My Favorite Firefox Extensions That You Haven’t Heard About

Posted Sunday, June 12th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Before you comment or email me asking how I could have left out AdBlock Plus, FlashBlock, NoScript, Firebug, or Chris Pederick’s Web Developer Toolbar: Please re-read the last five words of this post’s title. If it’s a well-known extension, it’s off-limits for this post. This is about extensions that very few people have heard of, but that more people should have heard of, because they’re so useful.

I’ve tested and made sure that all of these extensions work with Firefox 4.

Go to the next page in a multi-page or multi-part sequence, with a single keystroke (Ctrl-Shift-right arrow). Includes the ability to use any phrase or image found in the page to determine the next/previous URL. This one is pretty handy for dealing with the kinds of sites that break their articles into multiple pages, but it becomes super-useful when you’re trying to catch up on a webcomic. You no longer have to find the “next” link or button on every page; just keep pressing Ctrl-Shift-right arrow and reading new comics.
This makes a good complement to NextPlease!. Instead of trying to find links within the page to forward or backward, this one look at the page’s URL itself, and makes it easy to move up the directory tree. Press Alt-up arrow to move to the parent directory (or from subhost.domain.tld to www.domain.tld and then to just plain domain.tld), or press Alt-down arrow to see a drop-down list of available shortened levels. This one comes in handy when you follow a dead link and want to try to truncate the URL until you find something useful.
Lets you remap what keystrokes are bound to what actions. Since quite a few extensions try to bind to keystrokes, collisions are bound to occur if you have as many extensions as I do. Keyconfig allows me to resolve those collisions. Additionally, just hitting Ctrl-Shift-F12 will give you a dialog box that shows what all your currently active keystrokes are, with the collisions highlighted. Even if you don’t need to change any of them, just knowing what they all are can be seriously useful.
Fixes those silly pages that don’t automatically put the focus on the first text field in the form you need to fill out. Hit a configurable keystroke (Ctrl-I by default) to advance forward through all text fields and textarea elements in the page. Very useful on SquirrelMail’s “compose” window, where moving from the Subject field to the Body field would otherwise take 8 repetitions of the Tab key.
A wonderful in-browser Twitter client. It’s particularly useful if you have more than one Twitter account, because you can have your browser be logged into one account, and have Echofon logged into a different account. It’s also available as a native Mac application and a native app for iPhone and iPad.
Browser View Plus
For web developers who occasionally need to check out pages in other browsers, this one is way better than (the rather well-known) IETab. It lets you configure up to 5 other browsers to open things in, then lets you access any of them on your right-click menu.
Another one that’s useful for web developers. Puts a little icon in your status bar that provides a pop-up menu of all JavaScript and CSS files linked to by the current page. Hovering over any filename gives a tooltip with the full URL; clicking on the item opens the file as if you’d done “View Source”, and right-clicking gives you options such as “Copy file URL”, “Open in new tab” (either focused or in the background), or even “Open in external editor”.

The extreme power of some of Firefox’s extensions is a large part of why I haven’t become a Chrome convert yet. With the level of customization that all these extensions allow, Firefox feels like my browser. It obeys my desires much more smoothly than Chrome does. Sure, I have to restart it on occasion… but since Firefox (like Chrome) is a modern, sane application that makes restarts easy, that’s not much of a drawback.

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