Enhance Firefox

Published Date
01 - Mar - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Mar - 2006
 
Enhance Firefox
Firefox, a browser from Mozilla, has been eating into IE's market share for a long time now. The browser has won over a lot of fans around the globe, and India is not an exception. It has an edge over IE in several aspects.

Firefox is a minimal download, and one of its much-touted advantages is that you can easily enhance its functionality by downloading and installing what are known as extensions. The process of installing extensions is straightforward, but not all extensions are safe-you can't completely trust something written by a developer you don't know about, can you?

Here, we attempt to tell you how to build up a wholesome browser for yourself. But before that, we should tell you that it's a good idea to upgrade to the latest version of Firefox-1.5.0.1 at the time of going to print. Some of the extensions listed below need Firefox 1.5 to run.

What Are Extensions?
Extensions are browser-specific add-ons. They are generally small in size, and can greatly enhance your browsing experience. What extensions you choose to install is a very subjective thing, which is one of the reason that Mozilla doesn't bundle them with Firefox. Another thing to remember is that many extensions come from third-party sites such as Firefox fan clubs.

Downloading and installing an extension is simple-Firefox has an inbuilt installer for extensions. All you need to do is click on the download link, and the extension organiser does the rest.

What Are Plug-ins?
Plug-ins are those add-ons to Firefox that are necessary to run functions embedded in Web sites: say a site has a Flash-based interface. To view it, you will have to add the Flash plug-in. Similarly, you will need the Java, Windows Media Player, and Acrobat Reader plug-ins, amongst others.

Adding a plug-in means installing the application itself. For example, you will have to install Flash Player from Macromedia, and during the installation, the program will detect the presence of Firefox and bind the player to it.

To download plug-ins for Firefox, go to https://pfs.mozilla.org/plugins/ ?application=firefox and choose the necessary plug-ins for your browser. It is advisable to have Flash player, Acrobat reader and Java. 

Must-have Extensions:
a) IE Tab
This one is our favorite! It loads Internet Explorer into Firefox tabs. Install IE Tab from https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?application=firefox&category=Popular&numpg=10&id=1419

Close and restart the browser once the download-and-install process is complete. There are more than one way to use IE Tab. Go to View > Toolbars > Customise; a dialog box with a few buttons appears. Drag the button that looks similar IE's "e" symbol and place it on the Toolbar as shown in figure.

Open a tab and click on this button to change the browser's engine to IE. If you want a few selected pages to open in IE automatically, then go to Tools > IE Tab Options. In the dialog box that opens, enter the site name as "http://www.website.com", for example, and click Add. Every time you key in this Web site in the address bar, Firefox will automatically open it in IE Tab. Great for all those pesky IE-only Web sites!

b) SessionSaver
Closing the Firefox window closes the tabs, and they do not re-open the next time you start Firefox. So do you find yourself bookmarking pages only so you can browse to them again the next day? If you do, you need SessionSaver. This extension restores the browser to exactly where you last left it.

Download-n-install the extension from https://addons.mozilla.org/ extensions/moreinfo.php?id=436&application=firefox

The settings can be altered from Tools > SessionSaver > Settings. Choose Expert mode for finer details, and put a checkmark next to 'Every startup from', 'Exisiting windows', 'And tabs', 'When restoring, join multiple windows into one', 'Save a session-backup on shutdown', and 'Allow me to "re-open" closed tabs'.

c) PDF download
Firefox takes time to respond, and sometimes even hangs, when you click on a link that opens a PDF document, especially if it's a large PDF. PDF download opens a dialog box that asks you if you want the link to open in the default PDF viewer, or download it to your hard disk, or view it as HTML. This is a great tool, especially if such options are not available on the Web page itself. To download-n-install PDF download, head to https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=636&application=firefox

d) DownThemAll
Firefox has an inbuilt download manager, but you've probably noticed that there's a bug when you try to resume a download! DownThemAll can be a solution-it can even resume downloads from previous Firefox sessions. To get this extension, go to https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=201&application=firefox

Clicking on any download link opens the 'Save as' dialog box; you will now also see DownThemAll listed in the dialog box. Choose it and provide a location on your hard disk to which you want to save the file.

e) FoxClocks
Want to know what the time is in Fiji? Just install FoxClocks! This extension shows the time in cities around the world by synchronising with a database of time zones and daylight saving. Head to https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=1117&application=firefox

FoxClocks displays a message asking you to choose from 100-odd cities. It then displays the current time at the chosen cities in the status bar. You can even use FoxClock as a toolbar in your browser instead of displaying the times in the status bar. 

f) ReminderFox
Using this extension, you can set To-Dos and reminders within the browser. Download and install this extension from https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=1191&application=firefox

After installation, you'll notice a ribbon-like icon in the lower-right corner of the browser.

Right-click on this icon to access your To-Dos and reminders. Right-clicking the icon also gives you all the options you'll need to add items, change settings, and so on.
 
g) FireFTP
If you regularly browse FTP sites, then you definitely need FireFTP, an FTP client that greatly eases file browsing and copying. You can right-click on an FTP link and then choose to open it with FireFTP. FireFTP opens your machine's file browser on the left pane and the FTP site on the right pane of the browser. You can drag and drop files between the two… it's as simple as that! To get the extension, go to https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=684&application=firefox

h) Flashblock
Flash-based ads can be very irritating, and also take up your bandwidth. Some of you may already have thought up a method to block them, but with Firefox, all you need is the Flashblock extension. Use this link to download and install this small extension: https://addons.mozilla .org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=433&application=firefox

The extension will appear whenever it detects and blocks Flash content. The blocked content is replaced with a play button, so you can choose to play Flash-based content such as an e-greeting (or even ads, if you actually like them!).

Last but not least-Themes
The default Firefox skin is mediocre, and it's boring to look at the same interface all the time. Add some excitement to your browser… pep it up with good-looking themes! Firefox has made this very simple by incorporating a theme downloader-cum-installer. Open the theme section at Mozilla's Web site: https://addons.mozilla. org/themes/? application=firefox.

Browse through the numerous themes and click on the download button for the theme you want to download. This will open the Themes dialog box. On applying a downloaded theme, you'll need to close and reopen the browser for the changes to take effect.

At the end of this exercise, you'll have configured a classy and complete browser. You'll honestly be able to say, "Firefox rocks!"




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