Firefox add-ons

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Firefox is a popular free web browser program, which many Mac and PC users use as an alternative to the defaults e.g. Apple's Safari. Firefox can be customised in various ways, including the use of add-ons (also known as plug-ins). As Firefox is an open source product, anyone can contribute these. This page summarises some that have been used and recommended by authoritative commentators on security, or by CATUG members.

Security and privacy

In March 2010, an article in MacWorld (reprinted from CSO) recommended these to improve security and privacy. Some of these are free, some are shareware (suggested contribution US $10):

  1. NoScript which blocks and blacklists JavaScript, Java, Flash, and other plug-ins by default. Many websites rely on these plug-in technologies, so you have to whitelist sites for them to function. Using the NoScript status bar icon, you can whitelist on a temporary basis or add sites to your permanent whitelist. This preemptive script blocking tool is a must for any Firefox user.
  2. BetterPrivacy lets you manage flash cookies (see Wikipedia – these are an enhanced way of storing information about you and your online activities).
  3. Adblock Plus gives granular control over page elements such as ads/banners content in your browser experience. Although it does use a region-specific block list, you can configure filters with great flexibility, blocking or allowing content as you see fit.
  4. FoxyProxy, a feature-rich proxy management add-on.
  5. Firebug allows us to monitor, debug and edit the content of any website live in any webpage within the browser. It’s helpful in investigating websites that seem slightly fishy.

MacWorld readers added:

  • Flash Block which blocks all Flash items on web sites. It also has a white list for sites you want to see Flash, and if you want to see something that is blocked, just click on it and it will appear.
  • TrackMeNot protects users against search data profiling by issuing randomized queries to popular search engines.
  • Web of Trust (WOT) rates every link on every page for trustworthiness, and blocks bad pages (but can be overridden).

In 2012 Macworld added a recommendation for DoNotTrackPlus (DNT+) to block tracking cookies. It keeps an eye out for advertising companies and social networks looking to gather your personal information, and leaves you in control.

An alternative is Ghostery, which does a similar job to BetterPrivacy and DoNotTrackPlus.

CATUG Board member Jon Glass gave his priorities from the above in 2010:

  • "When I do a new install of Firefox I always install three extensions immediately without fail. The first two are AdBlock Plus and NoScript. I believe that with those two you are pretty set. Without Javascript I don't think Flash can launch. I do recommend using adBlock with care though. There are some really good and rather small sites that depend on ad revenue to survive; if you are a regular at one of these sites it is only fair to unblock such sites. For instance I unblock MacObserver."

Other useful add-ons

Jon Glass continues:

  • "The third extension I install is tree-style tab. Beats any other tab system hands down."

Marvin Robertson recommends:

  • Bible Toolbar, a great tool for anyone in ministry. It allows you to instantly open in parallel columns any two Bible versions or translations available on the Bible Gateway site. You can also use it for word searches in the Bible versions you have selected. Another plus is that you control the search right from your Bible Toolbar without having to go to Bible Gateway first.

Dan Stewart adds:

  • Xmarks (formerly FoxMarks), paid-for product, helps syncing bookmarks if you have multiple computers, also backs up bookmarks

Chris Howard says, "These are all free. There are more that I use, but these I would recommend as they work well, are usually quick about catching up with updates and have functionality that I use regularly."

  • Download Helper, downloads internet video, can convert it to different formats including .mov
  • Web Developer – as someone who does work with web design, this is an indispensable tool. Shows links, HTML, CSS, much more of any page, and if you're set up right you can edit these properties from within Firefox
  • Open with Photoshop – gives a choice in contextual menu to open images directly in Photoshop
  • PDF Download – more control over the opening and displaying PDF files
  • Clear History – adds "Clear History" to History menu
  • Download Statusbar – adds a few features on the bottom of Firefox window for managing downloads, including opening downloaded files
and his favorite:
  • Destroy The Web – diversion – or a statement on how you feel about a particular site

See also

External links


Originally contributed on Mac-Ministry by Marvin Robertson, Jon Glass and Dan Stewart, March 15, 2010. Added more from Chris Howard, October 2011. Marvin also recommended DNT+ in February 2012, and Neville Reid added Ghostery.