Firefox has been steadily losing ground to Chrome and Opera in the past few years. I find this sad, as Mozilla were groundbreakers at the time and rescued us all from an IE-only world. I, myself, switched to Chrome a while back, but now that Firefox 8 is out, I decided to give it another chance.
But Firefox is not perfect (it’s OK, neither is Chrome). So why not make it better? Here are 5 excellent add-ons, which when combined, will revolutionize your Firefox experience. You can, of course, try only one or two, you’re still bound to feel the difference.
Mar Mod probably deserves an entire article of its own. This is an enhancement add-on that tweaks so many things, it might take you a while to remember all that it’s doing. Remember or not, you will feel the difference right away.
Just from this screenshot you can see that the orange menu has turned into a nice icon, a “Restart” option has been added to the menu, along with a new “Addons” menu which lets you access individual add-ons quickly and easily.
Another cool feature is the online translator. Choose your language, and translate any text you choose with two clicks. It’s really useful if you need to translate just a sentence here and there, and not the whole text.
Mar Mod does much more. From adding navigation to the context menu, to changing your icon set and controlling favicons, to adding download file size. It even offers backups.
This is a truly marvellous add-on, and one avid Firefox users will much appreciate.
If you often need to restart Firefox, but don’t want to tweak the hell out of it with add-ons like Mar Mod, you’re going to love Restartless Restart. This add-on adds only one new functionality, but a sorely missed one. The option to restart.
Besides adding it to the Firefox menu, the add-on also lets you set a hotkey. Now you can restart Firefox without even using the mouse. This is really useful if you tend to install and uninstall many add-ons. Restartless Restart doesn’t require a restart itself, which is an added bonus.
Desktop is an add-on which lets you create a custom speed-dial page where you can place sites you visit a lot and use them as clickable bookmarks complete with folders. You can even add a Google search widget to your page.
With Desktop, you can either add thumbnails, which are just a miniature form of your favorite website, add a custom image to the thumbnail to create icons like the ones for Facebook and Twitter you can see above, and also create folders. Folders are simply links to other “Desktops” where you create more custom widgets.
The idea behind this add-on is really good, but its not yet perfect. For example, I couldn’t find a way to name my folders. I also encountered some wallpaper issues. Despite this, Desktop is a useful little add-on and will help you create a unique starting page for your Firefox.
If you have to search webpages a lot, you might feel exasperated with Firefox’s native find option. If this is the case, you should try FindBar Tweak. This handy little add-on makes searching webpages so much better, you might find yourself doing it just for fun.
To start, you can tweak the find bar to open AND close on Ctrl+F. You can move it to the top of the page and change the button layout. You can make the search live, and add a counter for the number of times the word appears on the page. And this is not all!
FindBar Tweak also lets you decide what the highlights will look like. You can choose colors, decide whether all the matching words will be highlighted or not, add a highlights grid to the scrollbar and more.
In short, all the things Firefox’s Find has been missing come together in this helpful little add-on.
If you suffer from the “too many tabs” syndrome and self discipline doesn’t seem to cut it, CleanUpTabs is the add-on that will put you right. With CleanupTabs, you can set a maximum number of tabs you can have open, and the add-on will automatically close the unused tabs. Sounds harsh, I know. But don’t worry, you can tweak it some.
Aside for setting the maximum number of tabs, you can also specify websites that will never automatically close (adding too many is cheating, though!). You can also set it to never close tabs you haven’t viewed yet, and have it number the tabs (so you can keep track) and sort your tabs by most recently viewed (as opposed to most recently opened).
If you use it wisely, it could mean the end of 30 open tabs and sluggishly slow browsers. Give it a try!
I actually feel happy about Firefox 8. Load times are better, it’s responsive, and many of the reasons I switched to Chrome have been fixed. With some good add-ons, user experience can become truly excellent.
So do you know of some more such add-ons we should try? Please share them in the comments!