This is the third and final post in a series about web browsers. In the first post we looked at the differences between browsers. In the second we looked at how to customise each one and in this one I’ll be giving a complete breakdown of my browser. From the theme I use, to the plugins I run and the layout of my buttons. So let’s begin.
Theme and Layout
Until recently I’ve kept the default theme for Firefox, thinking that the only available themes were from the Mozilla site. Then I discovered www.getpersonas.com which has a beautiful range of much more exciting and better looking themes. At the moment I’m using a nice and neutral theme called ‘LE – about that walk‘. But I’m sure it won’t be long before I create my own. I’ll keep you posted!
I currently have 34 add-ons installed, many of which are helpful only to web developers and designers. So instead of exhaustively explaining each one, I’m going to talk about just the ones that other people might find genuinely useful or helpful in some way.
All in one Gestures
All-In-One Gestures is a mouse gestures add-on that was built to increase your productivity. It’s very simple to use. You can assign functions to just about any mouse gesture. So, for example, you can right click and flick the mouse to the left and it would go back a page. Right click and flick it to the right and it would go forward. Right click and flick it up and down and it will reload the page. Sounds pointless, but once you’ve used it for a little while you’ll come to rely on it. It feels very natural to use and requires that much less concentration than aiming for a button.
This is a nifty little add-on that allows you to save and bookmark websites directly to your Delicio.us account without having to visit the Delicious website. It also lets you open up a sidebar from which you can manage all of your bookmarks.
Drag and Drop.io
Drop.io if a free online file hosting service that allows people to easily store and share files. It is an excellent service that allows you up to 100MB of free storage and unlimited accounts. With this add-on, you can drag files from your desktop onto the little Drop.io icon on your browser and it will automatically upload those files to your specified account. Beautiful.
Those of you that are regular Twitterers will know that there are countless Twitter services available to you. I use Echofon as I can quickly and easily post and read tweets and messages from an icon on my browser without needing to open up Twitter itself.
Facebook Toolbar is an add-on that allows you to post status updates from a little input form on your browser. Again, there is no need to visit the Facebook site. A sneaky little add-on for those of you who would do well not to be seen throwing sheep at people while at work ;)
This is a fantastic little add-on for those of you who regularly find yourself losing control of how many tabs you have open at any given time. Click the icon or both mouse buttons and a screen will open up showing you thumbnails of each tab you have open, offering a more natural way to view all of the sites you’re browsing. You can even customise the look and functionality of the splash screen.
Image zoom is a simple but useful add-on that gives you options to enlarge images when you right click on them. You can zoom in and out at will. Especially useful for graphic designers interested in the smaller details, but generally nice to have for all.
Instapaper is an online news bookmarking service. It lets you save articles from around the web in a simplified format for offline reading. Which is great if, for example, you spend a lot of time travelling and want something to read but have no internet connection. Instaright gives you the option to save articles directly to your Instapaper account with a single click.
A useful add-on for anyone. It’s thoroughly annoying when you want to take a screenshot of a website you’re looking at but only get the top half or only the bit that shows on screen, while the rest is cut off. Screengrab lets you take a snapshot of the entire page, a specific section or just the current view and copy or save it to your computer. No more multiple screenshots and stitching them together. Very helpful.
One area that the Bing search engine beats Google (for me) is the search preview aspect. Bing gives you a little thumbnail snapshot of each website whenever you perform a search. This add-on gives Google the same ability. I’ve always preferred Google as my search engine of choice, so this is a bit of a find for me personally.
Particularly useful if you ever share links on Twitter and find you’ve run out of characters. Shorten URL lets you shorten any link using a number of URL shortening services. Just choose your service and you can shorten any link within 2 clicks.
Tab Mix Plus
Tab Mix Plus is one of my favourite add-ons for Firefox. It gives you absolute and comprehensive control over your browsing ‘sessions’. From remembering all your tabs, to customising colours of viewed and non-viewed tabs, to setting mouse click actions to just about anything else you can think of regarding tabs and browsing.
I used to keep a Hotmail tab and a Gmail tab open just so I could keep an eye on what’s coming in over email. This add-on replaces both of those tabs with a little icon that flashes up a little message when you get a new email. Perfectly useful and unobtrusive.
Word count Plus
I already write too much in my blog posts so this little add-on will help me keep track of how many words I’ve written. Just highlight any text on a page and click the icon and it will tell you how many words you’ve selected. Hover over the icon and it will tell you how many characters there are. Simple but helpful.
I hope this series of posts has maybe expanded your view on ways you can use and interact with just about anything online. Just be careful you don’t go plugin crazy and add everything, as it will eventually start to slow down your browser. This is a list of just some of my current add-ons, but there are literally thousands to choose from. Whatever your interests or hobbies, I advise you to check them out. You might just find something you didn’t realise you couldn’t live without.
Check out the other posts from this series:
The Power of the Browser – Choose Your Weapon (Part 1 of 3)
The power of the Browser – Make it Yours (Part 2 of 3)