Great Extensions for Firefox.

Image representing Firefox
Image via CrunchBase

Mozilla has created a robust ecosystem of extensions around their web browser Firefox. In this article I’ll take a look at a few of my personal favorites that I think you’ll find useful as well.

StumbleUpon

Choose topics you are interested in and then stumble away. StumbleUpon helps you find sites that are of interest to you and through rating the sites over time and building a network of like-minded friends you can tune StumbleUpon to a fine science. Really a great tool for finding useful sites and information.

*This tool is a must have for web developers and bloggers.

Alexa Sparky

Alexa is an old site – but still a good one. It allows you to gather information on specific sites – including other sites that are on similar topics to a site and also information about the amount and types of visitors going to a website.

Alexa Sparky integrates this functionality into the Firefox browser. You can quickly see Alexa’s ranking of a site’s traffic compared to other sites and also find related sites.

*This tool is a must have for web developers and bloggers.

Diigo

To some extent, the web has replaced/supplemented traditional literature (magazines, books, newspapers), but it hasn’t always been as easy to “mark up” the web as it is a physical copy of a literary work. Want to highlight some text for later? Yeah, using a highlighter on the screen doesn’t work – in fact, it is a fast way to destroy your computer’s display.

There are now a number of tools for “marking up” the web – my personal favorite is Diigo. Using Diigo I can quickly highlight sections of a web page and Diigo saves the information to My Library on Diigo for later viewing. Now if the website goes down or I want to search all my highlights – I can – from one central location.

Diigo can do a lot more than highlight – it also allows for annotations (notes), saving of entire pages, building of a social network around your information, collaboration, and so on. Its pretty nifty…I actually pay for the premium service (though they have a fairly robust free service as well) because I use it so much.

Zemanta

Zemanta is a must-have for bloggers. As you write a blog post it pulls up related content and links that take your posts to the next level. For example, you’ll get a whole slew of images to choose from to include in your post, related article links, key terms within your post that you can easily hyperlink, suggestions for tags, and so on.

ColorZilla:

Another great extension is ColorZilla. Ever see a color on a website and wish you knew what it was so you could use that specific color to create something else? ColorZilla makes this task a snap. You just choose ColorZilla and then put the eyedropper that appears over the color you want and instantly get the code for that specific color. This will be mainly useful to web designers and artsy types.

MeasureIt:

Similar to ColorZilla in some ways is MeasureIt. It makes it easy to measure the dimensions of objects in the web browser. For example, if you want to figure out how big a photo is or how many pixels the font is, or how wide the utilized portion of the screen is – MeasureIt is your tool.

MinimizeToTray Revived:

For computer power users the frustrations of a crowded taskbar are all too familiar. MinimizeToTray provides the ability to minimize the Firefox application to the tray, thus saving loads of taskbar real estate. This functionality should be included in Firefox natively!

Firefox Sync:

Okay, okay – this functionality is built into Firefox 4.x, no need for an add-on…and if you are using an older version of Firefox you should upgrade immediately rather than installing this extension – but I think it is worth highlighting this functionality. Essentially, it allows you to sync your session data (e.g. cookies, favorites, passwords) between multiple computers. It isn’t quite as slick as it should be…but hopefully it will get there soon (Google’s Chrome does a much more intuitive job currently). This a great tool for those who have multiple computers (e.g. home and work, or desktop/laptop and so on).

LastPass:

A password manager. The idea here is that you create one really robust password for LastPass and then LastPass stores all your other passwords. This way you can generate passwords automatically and not have to worry about remembering them – as long as you remember your master password.

See if you use the same password on all the sites, if one site gets compromised then all your sites get compromised…but with LastPass you can use randomly generated passwords and not worry too much if one account gets compromised.

Of course, if your master password gets compromised – watch out! LastPass recently had a security scare and some folks are staying away from these sorts of services b/c of this…my personal opinion is that the weak link is much more likely to be something you do or your computer than a third party service dedicated to protecting this information.

IE Tab:

I used to use this tab all the time…now I don’t need it much at all…but back in the day a lot of sites only worked in Internet Explorer, and if you didn’t have this extension you had to open up a IE browser window any time a site wouldn’t work correctly in Firefox. These days almost all sites support Firefox, so this isn’t nearly the problem it used to be…but still, a very useful extension. It allows you to view a site with the IE rendering engine even while looking at the site in Firefox.

What are your favorite Firefox extensions? What extensions did I forget that you can’t live without?

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