I’m shocked companies still use Internet Explorer as their standard browser for business. I’m not about to go into a rant about how Firefox is more secure or how it wins in the speed tests, but if those reasons haven’t convinced you to switch your browser or your company’s browser to Firefox, then I have one more reason:
Just THINK about how many hours you spend every day, every week, every year of your life at a web browser. Almost literally every minute you are on a computer. That’s a lot of hours, and that’s a lot of time that’s wasted by inefficient hand motions, loading times, and bad habits.
These extensions below help solve those problems and making browsing the internet more useful. Period. If you’re the head of a company and reading this, I’d require that these extensions be installed on every computer and your people trained in their use. Two hours of training is going to turn into hundreds of hours of saved time.
I’ve come up with a list of 18 Firefox extensions that perform a variety of uses. I went for a breadth of extensions that covered many facets of your browsing experience, from email to search. There’s tons of others that do a great job helping you gather information and accomplish tasks faster, but these stand out of the crowd.
I’ve categorized the list for easier browsing!
So without further ado, 18 Key Firefox Extension that Improve Online Productivity:
General Functionality Improvements
- 1) DownthemAll: Have a page of images or powerpoints you want to put on your computer, but don’t want to click and save them all? Want to just grab the Mp3s from a webpage? DownthemAll can do it in one swift motion. Grab a group of images for your future use with one or two clicks.
- 2) Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer: Bookmark Synchonizer allows you to access your bookmarks from everywhere. If you have a different computer at work than you do at home, this is an absolute must. Anytime you add a site to your bookmarks at work, it adds it to your home computer. In addition, you can access your bookmarks from ANY computer. Never leave home without your favorite websites.
Why it improves productivity: Bookmarks can be transferred to work, personal, or public computers with absolute ease, allowing you to access all of your important websites from anywhere.
- 3) InterClue: Preview links before you click them. The moment you hover over a link, you’ll know what website the link directs to, how many words/characters are on the page, be offered a preview and statistics on the site, and have the ability to email or copy the link. It has even more features you can add as well.
Why it improves productivity: Allows you to preview links before clicking. Knowing the source of links allows you to skip needless link clicking to find information. Also great at gathering information.
- 4) Text Link: You’ll find, especially on message boards, that people will post links but not make them hyperlinks (aka make them clickable). Text link fixes that. Double click on any URL, and it’ll take you there. Very simple, very effective.
Why it improves productivity: No need to copy and paste links ever again.
- 5) FireGestures: Firefox takes on new meaning with FireGestures. With some mouse commands, you can do everything from open new tabs to opening scrollable tab menus to printing pages. Right click and move the mouse up and down and the page reloads. Hold down left click and then press right click and you’re taken to the next tab. Hold down right click and scroll the mouse wheel down and a list of all your tabs appears in a simple pop-up. With the ability to create your own gestures and commands, your browsing experience becomes not only faster, but smarter.
Why it improves productivity: Removes needless clicking. Once you get the hang of it, browsing goes by in a flash. By far the best way to browse in Firefox.
- 6) AdBlock & Adblock Filterset.G Updater: The golden standard in Firefox extensions. This is what will cut down on your spam, on your pop-ups, and on your damn annoying screaming ads. You can block any ad you want by clicking the “block” watermark that appears on almost every ad. Combined with FilterSet.G, your AdBlock will always be updated with the latest definitions. Hell, this should be bundled with Firefox in the first place.
Why it improves productivity: Less ads = Less load time, less annoyances, less pop-ups, and faster browsing
- 7) Autofill Forms: It does exactly what it says – it autofills all of those forms you keep on filling out every day. Just input the information within the extension and every time you go to a web form, press Alt + J. It’ll fill out your name, address, and all of the junk you hate typing out. With added features such as extra profiles (if more than one person uses your computer), it’s a huge time and headache saver.
Why it improves productivity: Seriously, how many times have you filled out webpage forms? Who wants to type that crap over and over?
- 8) dragdropupload: Need to attach a file to Gmail? Instead of clicking “browse” and finding the damn file in all of the folders, all you have to do is drag the file from your desktop an drop it on the “browse” button, and viola! The file’s attached! It works on any uploading page, too. Never again go through that crap when you can just drag, drop, and upload!
Why it improves productivity: You often have the folder with the file you want open anyway. Instead of going through it all over again, just drag and drop. The time you save adds up, especially when uploading lots of files or sending a lot of attachments while at work.
Why it improves productivity: Allows you to download many items at once, thus saving time.
Web Page Improvements and Enhancements
- 9) Greasemonkey: Greasemonkey is basically a platform for mini extensions within Firefox. It allows you to make small changes to your favorite websites to make them more usable via “scripts” you or others write. For example, I use the Facebook Fixer script to make profile pictures bigger when I browse, and I use several FriendFeedscripts to improve my use of FriendFeed.
- 10) Better Gmail 2: This extension compiles some of the best scripts ever written for Gmail and combiens them into one little package. The result? Hierarchical labels, new skins and designs for Gmail, customizable signature support, and more. It makes labels work more like folders (my favorite), adds more keyboard shortcuts, displays what type of attachment is in each email via icons, and allows for HTML signatures. There’s many more useful things this extension does for your Gmail.
Why it improves productivity: It better organizes your email, allowing you to sift through it faster and more efficiently. Also improves the interface with new skins.
- 11) Better GReader: If you are a fan of RSS feeds and blogs, you are most likely using Google Reader to absorb all of your news. But Google Reader isn’t perfect, and that’s where Better GReader steps in. It comes with the same type of approach as Better Gmail 2, compiling some of the best scripts into one. Its two best features are previewing posts (see blog posts and partial feeds within the Google Reader frames instead of a new tab) and Auto Add to Reader, which bypasses the pesky screen where you choose between iGoogle and Google Reader. It also comes with skins with minimalist interfaces and displays website favicons.
Why it improves productivity: It takes away hundreds of clicks and dozens of headaches you otherwise would have had by implementing a myriad of useful features. Preview post alone saves you tons of time when reading partial feeds and news aggregates.
BONUS: Go visit Userscripts.org to find a large repository of Greasemonkey scripts. Just search for your favorite website and see what’s available!
SEO and Social Media
- 12) Shareaholic: A lot of users of my site come from social media/bookmarking websites (a fond hello to the Diggers, Stumblers, and Reddit users of the world!). And likely, a lot of these wonderful users visit your site as well. Well, there’s a tool that’s great for both social media users and website owners. Shareaholic will reveal statistics about the popularity of a website (i.e. how many bookmarks on del.icio.us it has or how many Diggs a page has received) and gives you quick links to add any page you’re on to Digg, StumbleUpon, Mixx, etc. Makes social media so much easier.
- 13) SearchStatus: You’re surfing on the internet and you come across an interesting website, but you’re not sure about how legitimate it is, or how many people rely on it for information or products. The answer? SearchStatus, an extension that displays the Alexa, Compete, and Google PageRank of any website. Basically, in 3 seconds you’ll know whether a website is one of the top 1000 websites, spam, or an up-and-comer. It also comes with a myraid of neat tools like checking for backward links to a webpage, finding meta tags, and calculating keyword density. Great for those in SEO or internet marketing.
Why it improves productivity: Know the rank and legitimacy of a website immediately; Quick access to a website’s statistics and SEO information allows for faster information gathering.
NOTE: SearchStatus does send some of your browsing information to Alexa (that’s how they figure out the website rankings), so be sure you’re comfortable with data being transmitted to alexa or don’t mind disabling the extension when necessary.
Why it improves productivity: Quickly know the “buzz” behind a web page in social media; faster and easier to add pages to social media/bookmarking websites.
- 14) InterNote: InterNote is basically sticky notes for Firefox. Add notes to any webpage on anything. Put down shortcut keys, print out your research notes for a website, write down contacts, etc. It comes with a great management system and extra features as well.
- 15) ReminderFox: ReminderFox is the best task and to-do list management system within Firefox. It is a very simple extension that allows you to organize your to-do tasks and gives you reminders when you need them. Great for those who aren’t used to task management systems.
Why it improves productivity: You’re going to actually remember to do shit! Reminders are very, very good things.
NOTE: I suggest eventually upgrading to Remember the Milk. It is a web service that integrates with Google Calendar, Gmail, and can send IM, Twitter, and Text message reminders of all of your appointments. If you’re looking for something more feature-rich, use Remember the Milk.
- 16) BlueOrganizer: This is the smartest Firefox extension I’ve ever encountered. It helps you save books, movies, music, and other products you continually encounter and visit. When you visit Amazon.com, for example, it adapts and allows you to do things like compare prices on Barnes and Noble or add to your amazon wish list. You can save pages and it also, like shareaholic, helps you share pages via digg, stumbleupon, etc, though it also comes with Twitter and TinyURL support. Basically, the more you use it, the smarter it gets. Creepy? Perhaps. But really, just plain awesome.
Why it improves productivity: Adapts to your habits, helps you compare products, helps you save products and items without using bookmarks, and more features than you can shake a stick at.
Why it improves productivity: Sticky notes on the websites you visit allow you not to forget anything important. Putting down shortcut keys for your favorite sites is a beautiful thing.
- 17) Scribefire: This is the ultimate extension for bloggers. Blog from ANY webpage by pressing F8. This will bring up a split-screen that allows you to write as your browse or read other blogs (useful if you are reporting on what other blogs are saying on a specific subject. Uploading videos, links, quotes, and images via FTP, YouTube, flickr, and more. Write notes, share posts, and cut HOURS off of your blogging. With this tool, you’ll almost never visit your Blogger or WordPress administration interface.
Why it improves productivity: Allows for blogging while surfing. Removes the need for the administration panel of blogs, allows for immediate blogging with just F8. It simply revolutionized my world.
For Web Developers
Why it improves productivity: Faster researching and faster information. It’s easier to check the code of other websites, to test your own code, or to check for errors.
If you use these extension, there’s going to be a dramatic difference in how you browse the internet. All for the better.