Your 2009 Top 10 Firefox Extensions

Each Top 10 entrant is linked to the page where Firefox users can install them from. See if you can’t find something new for your browsing routine below.

10. AutoCopy

As bloggers, we’re having to quote and copy links and code every day, but anyone who does a fair amount of copying to and from the web will dig AutoCopy. The basic use: It copies anyt text you select on the web as soon as you select it—no Ctrl+C necessary. For pasting into text forms, you simply hit the middle mouse button rather than Control+V. If that’s all it did, hey, we’d recommend it to anyone who writes, copies, or pastes a lot, but we also have to point out that it fixes really long, wrap-broken URLs automatically. Three cheers for fewer pinky-finger stretches!

9. Google Gears

It’s a bit more technical than most browser extensions, but for all intents and purposes, Gears is an easy-to-install add-on that unlocks an entirely new world to the internet. Primarily, it takes Google apps offline—Gmail, Google Reader, Docs, and Calendar—but a handful of other apps make good use of its mini-database powers, including Remember the Milk and PassPack. Still, given the kind of impressive implementation Offline Gmail received, we’ve only scratched the surface of the potential in them there gears.

8. Personal Menu

Personal Menu is kind of a next-generation version of the much-loved Tiny Menu, accomplishing the same basic but totally great effect: Giving the web content you’re actually looking at more space to breath. It does this by stripping the screen-wide menu bar at the top of Firefox’s windows and converting it into a single drop-down menu, then lets you choose which of those menus show up in it. Keyboard shortcut ninjas can enable an option to temporarily bring back the menu bar when Alt is pressed, and the extension auto-adds a history and bookmarks button to the main toolbar to compensate for the two most active menus.

7. Better Gmail 2

It’s not a revelation that Gmail functionality is one of our pet obsessions. Better Gmail 2 fixes or answers a lot of our Gmail complaints and wishes in one neat package. You can individually enable or kill any of Better Gmail’s more than a dozen fixes and improvements, and whenever a great new Gmail user script hits the Greasemonkey realm, you can count on seeing it added to Better Gmail by our own Gina Trapani.

6. DownThemAll!

Not a tool you need every day, but really useful when you want it, DownThemAll is a selective, powerful download manager. It makes short work of snatching all the images on a page (including those links to the “bigger” or “zoom” versions), all the MP3s off a music blog, or any other kind of filter you can set up. Gina’s showed us how to do some smart tune-grabbing and Flickr downloading with her guide to supercharging your Firefox downloads with DownThemAll, but her walkthrough should work for any types of files and any page. Incidentally, DownThemAll isn’t just one of our favorites—it’s also the most popular download manager among Lifehacker readers.

5. Tab Mix Plus

Remember browsing before tabs? We kind of recall a faint smell of kerosene and words like “dubloon” still in use. In all seriousness, browser tabs are the key ingredient to how many of us multi-task on the web every day, and Tab Mix Plus is a master key for everything you like or loathe about tabs. It controls which links open in a new tab, new window, or same window to an OCD-friendly level, adds key features like italicizing the text on tabs you haven’t viewed yet, and super-powers Firefox’s undo closed tab feature. It gets way, way more intricate than that, but even for just the bare basics, it’s totally worth the install.

4. Automatic Save Folder

This one is technically an experimental, non-Mozilla-approved download, but with the positive reaction it received in our experimental extensions round-up, and experimental extensions no longer requiring a sign-up and log-in, it’s more than worth stepping out on the ledge. It’s the smart-downloading companion to DownThemAll, placing the files you download in a certain folder on your system based on the file extension or the site you grab it from. So if you always want the .xls spreadsheets you grab from Gmail to go into your Reports folder, but an .xls you grab from anywhere else to show up on your Desktop like everything else, you set the rules. JPG files from your friends’ Flickr page, versus photo downloads off the rest of the net? Tell them where they should go. It keeps your folders and desktop clean, and sets up rules you shouldn’t have to tweak much after one go—truly an extension after our own geeky hearts.

3. Adblock Plus

You were wondering if this would be here, didn’t you? Ad-blocking can make the internet a more tolerable place to look around, and AdBlock Plus does this with a powerful ad-blocking feed subscription you can pick at start-up. Alternately, any ads you find particularly distracting (“ONE RULE TO A FLAT STOMACH: OBEY”) can be right-clicked on and killed in perpetuity with “Adblock Image.” Ads can be brought back if you’re feeling curious, but as many a commenter (and AdBlock-loving editor) has said: After getting used to AdBlock Plus, you forget what the internet truly looks like until you turn this extension off. Lifehacker is, of course, an advertising-supported site, so we’d love it if you kept our ads displaying, opting instead to individually kill only the ones that make your eyeballs itch.

2. Greasemonkey

For Firefox changes that require deep browser integration (like adding a new button to the browser’s chrome), there are extensions. For everything else, there’s Greasemonkey. Greasemonkey is a difficult extension for the uninitiated to wrap their heads around, but once they do, it’s a breeze. In essence, Greasemonkey is a meta-extension of sorts. It does nothing by default when first installed; the power lies in Greasemonkey user scripts developed by JavaScript-wielding geeks fed up with under-performing sites or interested in bringing more power to the sites they already love. If you don’t like seeing labels on your Gmail messages, but wouldn’t mind seeing them when your pointer hovers over them, there’s a fix. Want YouTube to acknowledge your bandwidth and load high-quality clips by default? Same deal. Those are just a few recent examples, but the list goes on, and the fixes keep getting better. You can find Greasemonkey scripts all over the web, but if you’re just getting started, you may also want to check out Userscripts.org—sort of like Mozilla’s add-ons site but for Greasemonkey scripts.

1. Foxmarks/Xmarks

Foxmarks is gradually rebranding as Xmarks, but what we really like about Fox/Xmarks remains the same as the last time it claimed the Must-Have crown: It’s nearly seamless at keeping your bookmarks and passwords synchronized between browsers on any platform, and stores them on a site you can visit from any browser where you can’t install an extension. If you’re not down with the cloud, you can even tell this extension to store your stuff on your own server. Foxmarks is also available on IE and Safari, and you can separate your work bookmarking from ooh-cool life stuff with selective bookmark profiles. It’s the tool that lets you keep fleeting thoughts, IM links, and other ephemeral web stuff all together, so of course we dig on it. The transition to Xmarks adds a few semi-nifty, social-y features to your searching and bookmarking, but if you’re not keen on those changes, you can easily disable them in the Xmarks preferences.

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