Internet Explorer® may be the most common Internet browser used, but it isn’t the best. I’ve found that most people use Internet Explorer because it came with their computer, not because they actively chose it (see What’s the Best Web Browser for You?). Anyone reading this post that doesn’t use Firefox® should take a look at it. It is more secure than Internet Explorer and there are hundreds of add-ons that allow you to customize Firefox to fit your needs.
Here are some Firefox add-ons I think no one should be without:
If you have ever felt like you’re going to go blind reading the small print of websites, No Squint is an answer. It allows you to increase the text size of all websites you visit as well as customizing the text size for particular websites. I keep my default text size at 125%, but a few websites get wacky at that size so I set each one to whatever size works best for me. No Squint remembers my settings for each website.
Google Toolbar is another must have add-on. It makes it even easier to search Google, my preferred search engine, by offering instant suggestions. It also spell checks online forms, which can come in handy if you’re a lousy typist or speller.
Tabbed browsing is one of the great timesavers of recent Internet browsers. When you click on a link and it opens a new tab in your browser window you still have easy access to whatever you were looking at before. However, sometimes, the best thing to do is open a entire new window, like if you are going to start another series of searches on a new topic and need to keep it separate from your previous work. Here’s the rub, you may have pulled up a link in a tab only to realize you need it in a new browser window instead. Tab To Window add-on to the rescue. It lets you move or copy a tab to a new window or combine multiple windows into one quickly and easily.
Fast Dial is a visual bookmark add-on. Just add to it the websites you visit regularly and they will appear as thumbnails every time you open a new tab. It’s much faster than searching through your list of bookmarks.
Do you find that you constantly are getting lost in the numerous tabs you have open? Firefox Showcase is an add-on with the answer. One click of a button and it will display all of your open tabs as thumbnail images so you can easily see all of the websites you have open in tabs.
Shareaholic allows you to share links with social networking and social bookmarking services like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious, etc. It’s a must for social networking and bookmarking enthusiast.
CoolPreviews allows to to preview links without leaving the page your on. No more clicking on a link only to find out the page is not what you want.
After you’ve tried out these add-ons there are plenty more to choose from at: https://addons.mozilla.org/. Installing and uninstalling is a quick and painless process, Firefox is designed to let you experiment without worrying that your browser will be crippled by cranky add-ons. I generally try add-ons one at a time, and then uninstall them if I don’t like them.
This is an updated post from October 2008.