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customize browserYou’re probably familiar with browser extensions, but there are many other ways to customize your browser and tweak websites. The web isn’t a one-way, passive medium – you have the ability to remix websites you view on the fly, adding features or changing their look.

Each of these methods has its own advantages and drawbacks. Bookmarklets are ideal for small buttons you click occasionally, while user scripts and user styles are easy ways to modify the websites you view, adding features or changing their look every time they load.

Extensions

Extensions, also known as add-ons, are the most powerful things you can install in your browser. Extensions can do almost anything, from adding new features to your browser’s interface to modifying every webpage that loads.

customize browser

As extensions are basically additional programs that run inside your web browser, they take up additional system resources. Using many extensions can slow down your browser 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Install Lots Of Browser Extensions [Opinion] 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Install Lots Of Browser Extensions [Opinion] We all love our browsers, and we all love the extensions that you can install with them. We love browser extensions because they allow us to do what we want our browser to do that... Read More .

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Extensions and add-ons are easy to find. We’ve got a lists of the best Firefox add-ons and best Chrome extensions, or you can just browse the Firefox add-ons or Chrome extensions sites.

Bookmarklets

Bookmarklets are small bits of JavaScript What is JavaScript and How Does It Work? [Technology Explained] What is JavaScript and How Does It Work? [Technology Explained] Read More (the code that runs on webpages) that are stored as a bookmark. When you click the bookmark, the JavaScript code in the bookmarklet runs on the current webpage. Erez recently extolled their advantages Stop Installing Browser Add-ons - For a Faster, Leaner Browser Use Bookmarklets Instead Stop Installing Browser Add-ons - For a Faster, Leaner Browser Use Bookmarklets Instead Read More  – they don’t always run in the background, so replacing extensions with bookmarklets frees up system resources.

Some examples of bookmarklets include Share buttons, which share the current page on social networking sites when clicked, or a password revealer 5 Useful Bookmarklets for Your Web Browser 5 Useful Bookmarklets for Your Web Browser Read More , which runs JavaScript on the page to reveal a password that appears as ***** characters.

how to customize new browser window

Bookmarklets can’t replace all extensions, though. Bookmarklets only run when you click them, so they can’t automatically do something to every webpage you load. They also can’t add user interface elements, such as toolbar buttons, to your browser.

how to customize new browser window

To find bookmarklets, check out the Marklets search engine, which we’ve covered in the directory.

User Scripts

If you’ve heard of the popular Greasemonkey extension, you’ve heard of user scripts. Think of user scripts like bookmarklets that always run when certain webpages load – a user script can run on every webpage or only specific websites. User scripts straddle the line between bookmarklets and extensions – they’re just JavaScript code that runs on the current page, but they run automatically.

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To use user scripts in Firefox, you’ll need Greasemonkey installed. Chrome users can install user scripts as if they were extensions – Chrome converts the user script into an extension when you install it. You can also try the Tampermonkey extension for Chrome, which is a Greasemonkey-style user script manager that adds additional features scripts may require.

customize browser window

Check out UserScripts.org to browse for and install user scripts. You can also try the Greasefire extension Greasefire Shows Which Greasemonkey Scripts Work On Websites You Visit [Firefox] Greasefire Shows Which Greasemonkey Scripts Work On Websites You Visit [Firefox] Read More for Firefox, which shows you user scripts that work with the websites you visit.

We’ve covered lots of things you can do with Greasemonkey in the past.

User Styles

User styles are like themes for websites. A user style – usually associated with the Stylish browser extension – is like a user script, but it contains CSS style sheet code instead of JavaScript code. User styles can add additional CSS rules to a page, changing that page’s design – for example, you can install a user style that replaces the new Gmail look Gmail's New Look Is Finally Here, Now Available To Everyone [News] Gmail's New Look Is Finally Here, Now Available To Everyone [News] After giving us a preview several months ago, Gmail is now launching its brand new look and will automatically update all accounts soon. The new look is keeping up with other Google+ themed changes that... Read More with the old Gmail look. Unlike user scripts, user styles are focused on customizing the look or layout of a page.

customize browser window

To use user styles, you’ll need Stylish for Firefox or Stylish for Chrome. After installing the extension, check out UserStyles.org to download user styles.

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Because of the way Firefox works, user styles can actually customize and tweak parts of Firefox’s interface, too.

Check out our guide to Stylish How To Fix Small Annoyances On The Web With Stylish [Firefox & Chrome] How To Fix Small Annoyances On The Web With Stylish [Firefox & Chrome] Web designers have an almost impossible job. They need to come up with one design that pleases everyone. When talking about a service like Gmail, used by countless millions of people all over the world,... Read More for information on creating your own user styles.

Themes

Themes are an obvious way to customize your browser, but we can’t leave them out. They don’t add new features or modify webpages, but they do put a new look on your browser’s interface. Major browsers like Chrome and Firefox both support themes, which you can find on the Chrome themes and Firefox themes websites.

customize browser

Check out our complete guide to browsing with Chrome DOWNLOAD Browsing At Warp Speed: Your Guide To Chrome! DOWNLOAD Browsing At Warp Speed: Your Guide To Chrome! Learn everything you could hope to learn about Google's browser. It's all outlined in "Browsing at Warp Speed: Your Guide to Chrome!". This free manual, from author Lachlan Roy, covers the basics of using Google... Read More and our Firefox cheat sheets for Windows and OS X for more browsing tips.

How do you customize your browser? Do you stick with extensions, or do you use bookmarklets, user scripts, and user styles, too? Leave a comment and let us know.

Image Credit: Holding a glowing earth globe via Shutterstock

  1. Terafall
    November 6, 2012 at 4:38 am

    If scripts,for example Social Fixer,are also available as add-on/extension,which are better?

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Don't think it matters. Often they're just scripts wrapped in an add-on package.

  2. Do Huy Ngoc
    June 14, 2012 at 11:16 am

    monkey script is hard to use for a novice like me

  3. motsmanish
    May 19, 2012 at 7:53 am

    I am using social fixer from a long time, its awesome..

    • Chris Hoffman
      May 22, 2012 at 1:20 am

      What's your favorite feature in it?

      • motsmanish
        May 22, 2012 at 4:19 am

        "Mark as read." amd "Hide ads and left side column"

  4. Laga Mahesa
    May 18, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    No love for Opera? :(

    • Chris Hoffman
      May 22, 2012 at 1:19 am

      Opera should support everything listed here too, although I didn't mention it. I know Opera supports extensions, user scripts, and user styles -- definitely bookmarklets. Maybe themes, too.

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