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You’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, 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.
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.
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.
To find bookmarklets, check out the Marklets search engine, which we’ve covered in the directory.
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.
Check out UserScripts.org to browse for and install user scripts. You can also try the Greasefire extension 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.
To use user styles, you’ll need Stylish for Firefox or Stylish for Chrome. After installing the extension, check out to download user styles.
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 for information on creating your own user styles.
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.
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.
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