My Favorite Firefox Addons, Part 1

I say that you should use Firefox because it is the most secure out there, but the real reason that I’m not about to switch browsers is because of Firefox’s extensibility. There’s a whole range of addons and plugins out there that can open up a lot of new uses and functionality in your web browser. Plus, it seems that most every new featured added to a competing browser is quickly duplicated and sometimes improved by an addon to Firefox.

I thought I would share the Firefox addons that I personally use. Some of these make Firefox a little more useful, and some you really shouldn’t be browsing the web without.

In part 1, I tried to concentrate on the four addons that I felt were the most crucial to my web browsing and security. In part 2, I’m going to look at addons that make the Firefox a little (or a lot) easier and more useful.

Adblock Plus
This addon just makes web surfing better, period. It does what it says – it blocks most every web ad out there (it blocks primarily banner ads, as Firefox itself has a built-in popup blocker). With no ads to load, pages come up quicker, and there are less annoyances surfing around in general (if there’s one thing that web ads have gotten great at, it’s being annoying). You can set permissions for certain websites for the rare occasion the Adblock is interfering with something. For dealing with ads that are served using Flash, there are other addons available such as Flashblock, but I don’t use these because they usually disable all Flash on a webpage and there are a lot of Flash-dependent websites out there. One important thing to note: when installing for the first time, make sure you select a database for the program to use (the first one listed is usually fine). One time, I forgot to do this, and the program had no reference for which to block ads.

Web of Trust (WOT)
Web of Trust helps make browsing the internet safer, and for that reason everybody should be using it. WOT places an icon in the browser that is green, yellow, or red depending on how safe the page is. It will also stop you from going to a really dangerous page unless you confirm you’re sure. The application will even put a colored icon next to Google links, so you can make sure you’re not clicking anything misleading. The app uses user feedback to determine which sites are safe, so the more people who use WOT, the more safe the internet will be for everyone. WOT does require you to register an account, but it’s quick, painless, and free. There is an Internet Explorer version of the app available too, so not having Firefox is not an excuse to not browse safely.

DownloadHelper helps you download embedded content on the internet, most notably videos from YouTube. There are a lot of applications out there that do this, but DownloadHelper is one of the most popular and most feature-packed. Not every embedded video or audio clip out there can be downloaded, but that’s a universal trait with these apps. DH works on a fairly good number of sites though. DH has a lot of features, but one I find handy is that the addon itself can convert downloaded video from .flv format into a more useful format.

Lazarus: Form Recovery
Lazarus remembers what you have entered into forms, so that if the form is lost you can recover your work. It has saved my life a couple of times, especially when filling out online applications. Thankfully, you can password protect Lazarus so others can’t access the saved data. Even though it is saving and storing information in the background, there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable hit in browser performance and the app is unobtrusive. You shouldn’t notice it’s there until you lose that important form.

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