Posted by: reformedmusings | September 2, 2008

Recommended Firefox 3 extensions

I was asked about recommended add-ons/extensions for Firefox. So, here are my thoughts:

In the following discussion, I will link to each extensions location on the Mozilla’s add-on pages for those which are updated there. This is the easiest place to find add-ons and from which to install them. I recommend installing and enabling MR Tech Toolkit first and disabling the delay timer immediately. That will speed up installation of the rest of the extensions. The most important add-ons for security/privacy are AdBlock Filterset.G Update, AdBlock Plus, Flashblock, NoScript, Permit Cookies, Perspectives, PopupMaster, Redirect Remover, and Stealther.

For plug-ins to play media content in Firefox under Linux, I only had to install mplayer, Java (IcedTea), and the Adobe Shockwave plug-ins. MPlayer is free, but only works in Linux and is best installed through the package repositories. If you are running Firefox under Windows, then you should either pitch Windows and install Linux (the recommended option), enable Firefox support in your current media players, or install/reinstall the base programs like RealPlayer, QuickTime, etc., just as you’ve done for Internet Explorer. They will then install the Firefox plug-ins because they will detect Firefox on your system, or you can select Firefox support when you install the programs.

So that’s my core list of must-haves for privacy, security, and playing web content. A few others that I consider essential to my browsing experience are All-in-One Sidebar, Connect to address, DownloadThemAll!, Mouse Gestures, Search Everywhere, Tab Mix Plus, and UpDown. Firefox has its own built-in RSS feed support, but if you want something fancier, I recommend Sage-Too. For the ability to lookup/search/etc. things you highlight in the browsing window through a context menu, try Hyperwords. However, I do not recommend allowing Hyperwords to copy text directly to the clipboard upon highlighting it (i.e., you should disable that option). You’ll find later that this idea sounds better than it is in reality, especially if you post to forums a lot or blog. To print from any popup window, try Print. I use some others for various reasons. You can do almost anything you can imagine with Firefox through extensions. Here is my complete list, this time with links to their actual homepages and current versions as of this post:

Enabled Extensions: [35]

This list does vary over time as I find new toys or cease to need old ones. The complete list of my installed media plug-ins, available from the Mozilla plug-in page, are:

  • Default Plugin
  • Demo Print Plugin for unix/linux
  • DivX Browser Plug-In
  • GCJ Web Browser Plugin (using IcedTea) 1.0
  • mplayerplug-in 3.50
  • QuickTime Plug-in 6.0 / 7
  • RealPlayer 9
  • Shockwave Flash
  • Windows Media Player Plugin

That seems like a lot of plug-ins, but in reality, the DivX, mplayer, QuickTime, RealPlayer, and Windows Media Player plug-ins are all part of mplayer. So I only had to install mplayer, Java (IcedTea), and the Shockwave plug-ins under Linux as I said above.

You can also apply one of a large variety of themes to Firefox to obtain virtually any look that you prefer. I personally use CrystalFox Modern.

One word of caution about extensions: Most problems that people encounter with Firefox are actually caused by poorly-written extensions. The ones I list here all work just fine individually and together. If you encounter a stability or functional problem, simply disable or uninstall the last extension you installed. It may have interfered with another add-on you already had running, or may just be a problem by itself.

Hopefully this post has given you just a small idea of how powerful and flexible the Firefox add-on API is. No one else comes close to this kind of power and customization. Best of all, it’s free and open source, with great help available from a large community through the Mozilla support forums. Happy browsing!



  1. […] the Internet, Ubuntu ships with the excellent and secure Firefox browser. Firefox is incredibly customizable with extensions. Transmission BitTorrent enables users to access a wide-ranging variety of files. […]

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