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00 Writing ToolsI recently went out on a mission to find the perfect tool to manage my writing life.  But the journey ended up with my frustration at not being able to single out one app that fit my needs – the tool that can:

  • store notes and web pages from my research stage for offline view.
  • quickly create a to-do list and alarms out of assignments and tasks, and be able to be synchronized to iCal (then to my mobile) so I’ll always get reminders wherever I am.
  • access my email easily.
  • track and record my writing assignments and submissions.
  • post to blogs and also serve as a word processor – both in WYSIWYG and HTML view.
  • show the word count for each of my submissions.

The most important thing is the whole features should come free and in one package (as I’m a bit tired switching back and forth between applications).

Then I remembered about Firefox – the browser that can be transformed into almost anything that we want it to be, and wondered whether I can expand it to be THE writing tool I’m looking for.

The Hunt for the Add-ons

Everybody knows that one of the greatest things about Firefox is the wide range of add-ons available. What I did was search for the right writing addons for Firefox with the right features. I found too many options so I have to be super selective.

And the winners are:

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  1. Scrapbook –> This is the first writing addon for Firefox on my list. Scrapbook is like a storage house for all of your research materials. You can easily send any web page to be archived inside Scrapbook, either by dragging and dropping it into the Scrapbook sidebar (Option + K)

    01b Firefox - Scrapbook Tools-1

    or by right clicking on the page and choose “Capture Page”.

    01a Firefox - Scrapbook

    Add folders, sub-folders, notes, and organize them to your heart’s content by dragging and dropping. I could go on forever as I really love this tool, but there are still a lot to cover so I’ll just link you to our previous coverage on this nifty tool Offline Browsing Anywhere Anytime - Part One Offline Browsing Anywhere Anytime - Part One Read More .

  2. Scribefire –> Since most of my writing assignments are in the virtual world and need me to be familiar with HTML, I think I’ll just use this powerful blogging add-on to also serve as a WYSIWYG word processor. Scribefire allows its users to easily switch between rich-text and source editing.

    02 Firefox - ScribeFire

    To get a clearer picture on what this baby can do, check out the comparison between Scribefire and Deepest Sender ScribeFire vs DeepestSender: One Blogging Addon to Rule Them All! ScribeFire vs DeepestSender: One Blogging Addon to Rule Them All! Read More .

  3. Extended Copy Menu and QuoteURLText –> Sometimes you run into texts that need to be handled with more than just standard “Copy” feature.

    03 Firefox - More than copy

    These two add-ons provide Firefox users with the ability to go beyond that. Extended Copy Menu enables users to copy the selected text as plain text or HTML, while QuoteURLText will include Page Title, Location and copy date to the copied texts to be used as perfect quotes.

  4. Word Count Plus –> Another common thing about writing assignments besides time limits – a.k.a deadly deadlines – is dimension limit or more popularly known as word count. If you have to count your writing word by word, believe me, whatever reward you’ll get won’t be worth the hassle :). Imagine J.K Rowling counting the words in her books.  Scribefire is a writing addon for Firefox that has its own word count tool (right click –> View –> Word Count), but for other content – like website text – there’s Word Count Plus.

    04 Firefox - Count words

    To use it, just right click on the selected text and choose count words.

  5. PageZipper –> How many times have you encountered an article that spans to several pages? Some are so long that it can be turned into a book. Clicking “Next Page” once or twice is still bearable, but if the number goes into more than ten and you have to do it on so many articles, you’d better use PageZipper.

    05 Firefox - PageZipper

    This add-on will combine all the next pages into one and saves you the click. (please note that not all webpages are compatible with this tool) But the usage goes beyond that: if you’ve archived the combined pages using Scrapbook and done a light editing with Scrapbook’s tool – like Highlighter, Annotation and DOM Eraser – you’ll have a tidy document ready to be printed.  See here View A Multi-Page Article On One Single Page With PageZipper View A Multi-Page Article On One Single Page With PageZipper Read More for T.J’s in-depth look at PageZipper.

  6. Toodledo –> This is the add-on version of the online service with the same name. I chose this one among tons of to-do list tools because this one can easily synchronize with iCal and GCal. It means that there’s no way that I can escape from all of my writing assignments.

    06 Firefox - Toodledo

    Another reason is that adding a new task to Toodledo from Firefox is a snap, just hit Command + Option + A (Mac) or Control + Option + A (Windows/Linux) (or use the “Tools –> Toodledo –> Add task” menu). If you are curious, you can read more about Toodledo.

  7. Evernote –> If there was no 40 MB limitation on the online storage, this extraordinary service would be my choice of the ultimate writing tool. I filled up Evernote’s limit in less than a week, while my Scrapbook size has already passed 100 MB size and still growing. But that doesn’t mean that I would waste all of the great features. Evernote is a great tool to add, edit and share notes (text, voice, pictures) from any devices that you have from wherever you are.

    07 Firefox - Evernote

    My sudden muses will never go down the toilet again, I just make quick notes with Evernote, and then manage them all at home – make copies to Scrapbook and delete the originals from Evernote.

All in all, these writing addons for Firefox are the nearest thing to a perfect writing suite for me. But each person has his/her own preferences, so my choices could be different from yours.

Share your favorite writing-related add-ons using the comments below. If you know of another tool that could replace these combinations, you are welcome to share.

  1. Harry Nguyen
    January 16, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    I suggest a word count extension that might help your writing if you use Chrome
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/word-count-tool/ibjgdahgcdkpdlbkadidojhfddflblcm
    or this add-on if you use Firefox
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/word-count-tool

    if you want a quick & reliable solution, you can go to its web version:
    http://wordcounttools.com

  2. Harry Nguyen
    December 12, 2014 at 2:58 am

    I suggest a word count add-on that might help your writing if you use Firefox:
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/word-count-tool

    if you want a fast & reliable solution, you can go to its web version:
    wordcounttools.com

  3. polly
    November 25, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    The ease of use and coordination of these tools with each other has created an amazing virtual assistant for me. I also added zotero this week. I am giving it a trial run to possibly eliminate the need for any others.
    Read it later: readitlaterlist.com/ is another addon I use several times a day, while doing research or site searches, I come across bits of information or an interesting site I want to look at for personal use, but I don't want to necessarily save it long term. I mark it to read later. When I have time, I open my list and enjoy a variety of reading material.
    WebMynd webmynd.com/html/ is also an excellent short term memory for me. If I am skimming pages and decide an article or website I scanned several clicks back was a better source,
    WebMynd is docked on the side of my screen. I open it and have a list or screenshots(if you prefer) of my recent searches for easy reload. A final favorite is Last Pass: I log in each day, and for the rest of my day, I will not have to log into any of my blog dashboards or member sites. It will also auto fill forms for me.
    All of these tools are time(and sanity) savers. Check all of them out to find out many more features that might fit your needs.

  4. Suzannah
    November 25, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Out of curiosity, can you explain how you "make copies" of evernote items to scrapbook? I am wondering if it could save me from multinote hell.

    and for the record - if you are using scrapbook a lot (as i am) dont forget to include Readability into your process. It strips the page of all the ads and comments and the like. Then you save it to scrapbook. This is not only helpful to lower the amount of space scrapbook is taking up, but it will also make searching in scrapbook easier. Before I started doing this, scrapbook was also searching all the sidebars and ads from the pages I captured, making a search take far longer, and having wrong results. Sometimes the search is too good! Stripping the page first can seriously help. :)

  5. Suzannah
    November 25, 2009 at 7:31 am

    Out of curiosity, can you explain how you "make copies" of evernote items to scrapbook? I am wondering if it could save me from multinote hell.

  6. Andy WIlliams
    November 11, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    ClipBoard Fusion by http://www.binaryfortress.com/ is a nice little freeware app that works to copy text. It can be set-up to either keep any formatting hen pasting - including associated HTML - or to strip it out, leaving virgin TXT. Has been really useful to me when copying text from one place to another when I DON'T want to also transfer formatting etc.

  7. Shanna
    September 11, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Wow - I cannot thank you enough for this article. As a writer, these add-ons are going to make my online experience a thousand times more productive. When I am doing research, I always have copious bookmarks and notes (in Notepard, Word, etc.), and now I have ways to organize them and keep them in a separate, easy-to-access place.

    The cut & paste add-on is a godsend!! I get so tired of always having to choose "Paste Special" and then "Rtf" or "Regular Text". Or, sometimes even, I have to paste text in Notepad and then where I want it to go (like in WordPress where there is no "Paste Special" option) Now I can choose that option at the moment I cut/copy, and that is going to save so much time & aggravation!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing these wonderful add-ons. Every one of them is going to prove so useful; I can't wait to get them all installed in my Firefox browser.

    • Aibek
      September 18, 2009 at 1:55 pm

      You're welcome Shanna!

  8. James
    September 11, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    It's not an add-on, but I recommend people get a Delicious bookmark account and add the bookmarklet to their browser. Using its tags it is very easy to collect sites for different themes without cluttering your machine or browser.

  9. Bill LaRue
    September 11, 2009 at 10:17 am

    In any list of writer's tools Zotero is a must have, IMHO. It is a phenomenal research toolset, allowing capture of web pages, random notes, and published resources in an unobtrusive addon to Firefox. If you add a book, say via an amazon listing, it finds the ISBN number, and also allows you to find the nearest library that has that holding. Absolutely genius! You can add notes to your reference entry and number of other things with the tool, like collaborate with others to create collections. The addin has deep roots, being pushed by library types and research organizations. There is also an addin that installs in MS Office that allows you to insert references from your stash via pushbutton and then create a bibliography/table of authorities with another click (all in a multitude of official styles to match your institution). This is a killer app for research and is rapidly becoming a standard in the academic world. And get this: it's free. Unbelievable.

  10. Jeff Janer
    September 10, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Check out http://springpadit.com While it's not completely the swiss army knife writing suite Jeffry is looking for, it's an online web application that makes it easy to collect, create, organize, access and use your content. Previously covered by makeuseof.com: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/organize-your-life-with-springpad/ (full disclosure - I'm a co-founder)

  11. Tomer
    September 10, 2009 at 5:11 am

    nice, but, evernote is 40 mb every month, no space constraints.

  12. Tom
    September 9, 2009 at 1:50 am

    Nice post, I think your tips are very useful. Thanks.

  13. Shim Marom
    September 8, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    What a wonderful post. I'm making my first steps in the blogging world and this is simply a treasure. Many thanks.

  14. Dan Murray
    September 8, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I'm stunned....you actually used one of my boring photos for a blog post...and it works with the post. :)

    • Jeffry
      September 8, 2009 at 9:30 pm

      Thank you for your willingness to share your photos to the world. :)

  15. Bradford Taylor
    September 8, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Nice list, I've used most of these at one point or another. Just FYI there is another version of Scrapbook that adds a few things and is more updated (I believe). It's Scrapbook Plus: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/8186

    • Jeffry
      September 8, 2009 at 9:22 pm

      Thanks for the info. I'll try it.

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