How to improve your browsing experience

connor gerdes

Mozilla’s Firefox has officially become the most widely used Internet browser, but many people do not take advantage of what really makes Firefox click—the community. Firefox is an open-sourced program, where the community is encouraged to engage in their own additions to the browser—called addons. These addons augment the experience, allowing for a personal touch and added functionality.

Addons for the Internet layman

Cooliris: Takes image galleries found on Facebook and hundreds of websites and brings them into a seamlessly integrated 3D environment. A favorite amongst the creepers, it makes browsing images effortless and exciting.

Greasemonkey: Manipulates pages via user-created scripts to allow added functionality or a layout change. Want to download a YouTube video but not bother to find three individual programs? There’s a script that allows for one-click downloads in multiple formats. Another script is a (rather embarrassing) Facebook layout editor which allows for colors. Advanced users will be delighted to find there’s a wealthy amount of information to help people start writing their own scripts.

FoxyTunes: Integrates music players such as iTunes, Winamp, and even Pandora into the bottom bar of Firefox. View song information, album art, a bio of the band, or search for lyrics and tabs, all within a convenient click.

AdBlockPlus: Allows users to block any image on a website, removing obnoxious advertisements once and for all. The highlight here is that you can subscribe to a block list which a number of users contribute to, effectively ending advertisements on mainstream Web pages, all of which is done client-side. Web site owners have spoken out against its effectiveness.

NoScript: In the same vain as AdBlockPlus, this addon doesn’t allow any Java or Flash script to run without the user’s permission. It makes for a safer, much less cluttered browsing experience.

FlashGot with a Download Manager: FlashGot integrates a download manager such as Download Accelerator Plus into Firefox to download large files much faster, by breaking them down into a series of smaller ones.

Autopager: Eliminates the need for a “next page” button that plagues so many websites by preloading the following page at the end.

Foxmarks: For users who use Firefox on several computers, Foxmarks works in the background to keep all of your bookmarks together and accessible wherever you are.

SiteLauncher: For hotkey junkies, SiteLauncher offers a portal to any Web site you like within two keystrokes. Press ctrl-space to bring up your personal window, and then press whatever hotkey you assign to a Web site, and you’re loading.

Ctrl-Tab: Creates a window that offers a small image preview of all the tabs you have open. Useful for those of us who can’t have Firefox open without 15 tabs.