Technology

10 Extensions That Make FireFox A Killer App

Everyone these days seems to have a particular application which they label their killer app. As I depend on FireFox more and more to get things done, I have come to rely upon a set of extensions which really enhance my productivity. Here are the extensions which I consider to be the ones that give FireFox the title as “Killer App“.

Built In FTP Client – By using the FireFTP extension, I have access to the various FTP servers of the sites that I write for at the click of a button. Having an FTP client built into the browser means I can get things done faster as acquiring links to files is a matter of switching tabs rather than application windows. If you would like to learn more about this particular extension, please see this article. (FireFTP – The Best FTP Client I Have Ever Used)

Easy Access To Google Services – Despite the funny name, Gbutts is a FireFox extension which provides easy two-click access to the majority of services that Google Provides. I am only two clicks away from Google Docs, Gmail, Google Earth, etc. The extension can be configured so that only those services that you use, appear in the drop down menu. Since I routinely access Google Docs and Google Maps, this is yet another time saver.

Measuring Pixels – If you do any design work, you’ll know that at times, it can be time consuming to figure out the pixel size of an image. Thankfully, the MeasureIt extension takes the guess work out of the equation. MeasureIt provides an easy interface to measure things within the browser window by pixels. This extension saves time because you no longer have to open an image within an editor to figure out its dimensions.

Keeping Tabs On Forums – I’ve noticed in my own self monitoring that I spend a lot of time checking out the newest posts on the Hive and on various other forums I participate in. Intead of visiting the forums, I’ve since installed a RSS FeedReader for FireFox called SageToo. SageToo is a continuation of Sage with additional functionality. Essentially, it is a feedreader for FireFox. I use this tool to check out the latest forum posts on multiple forums from a sidebar rather than having to view the actual forum. This saves time because I tend to click on other things once I reach the forum and before I know it, I’m a long ways away from where I started.

Multi Blogging – Long time readers of Performancing will recognize this next extension called ScribeFire. Although I’d like to think that I don’t have any time to publish articles on my own blog, ScribeFire changes that by allowing me quick access to a blog editor which if configured correctly to take advantage of the XML-RPC features of WordPress, I can quickly write an article, place it in a category, tag it and then publish it live on my blog, all without thinking about it.

Page Rank And Alex Rank Without Searching – Ever come across a cool site within your niche and wondered what their Alexa rank or Google PageRank values were? Typically, you would have to use a tool and type in their domain name to figure out the values. With the SearchStatus extension, that information is provided to you within your browser. You can even check out the Compete rankings with this extension.

Creating Screen Captures – One thing every blogger has in their toolbox is a service, program, or extension in which they use to capture images. In my personal toolbox, I use a piece of software known as SnagIt by Techsmith. Although I don’t use the specific software by itself, having the software installed gives me access to the SnagIt Extension. This extension has saved me a boat load of time when it comes to creating images since I can create them on a per pixel basis within the browser window, edit them within the SnagIt software, and then save them to the desktop. Although the full version of the software is not free, this is the best screen capturing tool I have used. As an alternative, you can use Jing Project which is a project sponsored by TechSmith.

Creating TinyURLs In Seconds – Long URL’s are a pain in the rear to send someone whether it be in an email or a message that can only contain 140 characters or less. Navigating to the actual TinyURL web page to create the tinyurls can be time consuming. That’s why I’ve included the TinyURL Creator extension. This bad boy makes it as easy as a few mouse clicks to create a tiny url from a page or from a specific url. When created, the url will automatically be saved to your clipboard leaving you the only step of pasting it into the desired location. Definitely another time saver if only convenient.

TwitKit – I don’t care what anyone says, Twitter is a great service for networking and conversation. However, using Twitter through the actual website is a time consuming and mundane process. It’s much better to use a third party application such as Twhirl or in this case, TwitKit. Now, I typically use Twhirl for all things Twitter but when I want to quickly share a link or publish a quick thought, accessing Twitter through a sidebar in FireFox is a time saver.

Real Time Monitoring – Often times, I have no idea if my blog has received a major spike in traffic through the likes of Digg or Stumbleupon until after the fact. Watching these types of traffic spikes in real time is exciting and an amazing boost of confidence, even if the feeling only lasts for ten minutes. Whos.Amung.Us is a service that has been around awhile which is used by many to keep tabs on who is browsing their site in real time. After registering your site with the service, they provide you with a unique 8 character key which you then plug into their FireFox extension. The extension will then display the number of concurrent visitors on your blog in real-time and upon clicking on the number, you’ll not only be able to see the number of people browsing your site, but the URLs in which they are viewing and the number of people per URL. Woopra, and Pmetrics have this LIVE capability but having it built into my browser is convenient and notifies me of when I am in the middle of a traffic storm.

Conclusion:

FireFox is an awesome piece of software but the extensions for it are even better. The motto for FireFox used to be, “Take Back The Web” and that is exactly what the browser enables you to do. I tend to think that FireFox is a cockpit and each extension is like a gage or control that I can use as I navigate the web. With the extensions I have listed within this article, you are sure to save time and become more productive. Just be sure to disable that StumbleUpon toolbar during working hours!

If you have any FireFox extensions that are either alternatives to the ones listed above or, that solve a particular time sync which makes you more productive, please share them in the comments.

Author: jeffc

22 thoughts on “10 Extensions That Make FireFox A Killer App

  1. My favorite extensions are:

    Autofill forms: Makes filling out web forms a lot easier.
    FEBE: Backs up your Firefox data.
    Session Manager: Saves your web sessions.
    Tab Overflow Scrollbar: Makes moving from tab to tab easier.
    Tabs Open Relative: Opens tabs to the right of the current one.

    These are my must have extensions.   FCC GROL license test

  2. I didn’t include Firebug because it is a web developers toy and is not really required for bloggers.

  3. I can’t believe this plugin hasn’t been mentioned…. or has it and I just missed it? It’s one of the preeminent web developer plugins!! Quickly inspect your code, make edits in real time, check image sizes, and a whole lot more that is best explain at the website: http://getfirebug.com/

  4. I am going to look at the snag it plug in but have any of you seen the FireShot plug in? I use this one for screen shots and it works great!! Something to check out if you get time. Great list btw, I got some new links to go check out now…..

  5. Good post as I had heard of most all of these apps except the Snag It extension. I have Snag It installed, but had no idea that there was a FF extension for it. I just installed it and what a time saver that will be. Every time I need a screenshot, I’ve going into Start=>Programs=>ETC so this will save me some time and every little bit counts in a workday.

  6. I too use colorpicker. Boy has that little gem saved me some time! It can also be used to search out various CSS bits on a webpage.

  7. I hadn’t heard of whos.amung.us. I’ve bookmarked that for a closer look. I have the oldbar extension, because FF3 is a pain without it (nope, the new url bar will never win me over). I also like color picker, which lets me look at the color code of any color I see on a webpage.

  8. Thanks for sharing. These are some great plugins and I use several of them on my browser and for my sites. I especially like the built in FTP software. This thing rocks and beats installing another ftp client.

    Peter

  9. I heard about this GreaseMonkey addons, It’s a firefox extension right? Well i surfed the internet and found out that greasemonkey can embed price comparison. Whoa! this is great…

  10. @Mike D: I’ve heard quite a bit about ubiquity but I have yet to play around with it. Glad to hear it is working for you. Anything interesting within those translated spam messages?

    @Ganja: Sounds like a complicated setup. Any chance you could link us to a screenshot of your Firefox in use?

    @PHP Tut: I have been very reluctant to go to FireFox 3 due to extension incompatibilities. The other day though, I finally made the plunge and was thankful that all of the extensions I depend on were compatible.

    @The Adventurist: Speed Dial sounds like a feature Chrome has built in. I’m not much of a visual guy and prefer to click on links or type a few letters into the address bar and quickly get back to where I’ve been.

    @carlC: Ahh, Greasemonkey. Definitely a tool worth having in ones arsenal. Although I don’t use it, I’ve heard how extensible it can make Firefox beyond what it can already do.

    @Hart: I thought about using Foxmarks for awhile but have since substituted that extension with my use of delicious. Twitterbar was the first extension I used which tied twitter into FireFox but now Twitbin has taken over.

  11. Ones that I’ve grown to appreciate.

    Aardvark
    Foxmarks Bookmarks Syncrhonizer
    Fireshot
    Shareaholic
    Twitterbar

    (among other stuff you have or listed above in the comments)

  12. Customize Google is a pretty awesome one – it lets you do all sorts like anonymise your searching, automatically change to HTTPS for mail, click straight through to the image for image search and so on.

    Also, the best one ever is GreaseMonkey which allows you to run any JavaScript on a page. It’s like a plugin system in a plugin. There are thousands of scripts written by people to slightly improve the browsing experience on particular sites. UserScripts has an archive of them, for example this one which “Loads older tweets endlessly when you’re scrolling on the Twitter timeline.”

  13. You have mentioned some pretty good applications for Firefox 3. I am a fan of Scribefire and have used it for quite some time. It really makes blogging in more than one place easier to handle.

    Another application that I was at first a bit reluctant to try out is Speed Dial. This takes a snap of your most visited sites and let’s you click the image and go straight to that page. In the past two years, this has become one of the great time saver apps that I use constantly. It really saves an enormous amount of time by not having you type in a new address every time you want to get someplace.

    Nice article and thanks for the tips!

    Jason A. Hendricks

  14. I use a combination of All-in-One sidebar, Twitbin, and Rightbar. In my All-in-one sidebar I dropped the icons for FireFTP, Scribefire, Twitbin and the Web Developer Toolbar. In the status bar I have FoxyTunes, TwittyTunes, Greasemonkey, AdBlock Plus, Foxmarks and FoxyProxy. I’m also a big fan of Lifehacker’s Better Google Reader and Better Gmail extensions. On my bookmarks toolbar folder I’m using a ton of bookmarklets. IS.GD!, PressThis, GmailThis, FacebookChat sidebar, and View source sidebar. To top it all off I use Yubnub address bar for my searches. I virtually use Firefox as my operating system.

    BTW, the View source sidebar bookmarklet was something I put together myself. It will allow you to browse the source and the originating page in a slit window. Add a bookmark to your toolbar, put the follow code in the Location, and check the box that says “open in sidebar”.
    javascript:void(window.open('view-source:'+window.location.href));

  15. I have been playing around with Ubiquity, and it has quietly turned into my natural way to do a quick search (usually Google, but it works the same with Yahoo, though I have not tried MSN Search), post to Twitter.

    The best part, it will do a decent translation of the Chinese spam that has been arriving lately (yes, it started arriving before I installed Ubiquity).

Comments are closed.