Tag Archives: Firefox add-ons

How to navigate the web with your keyboard and gleeBox

I love keyboard shortcuts. I find using a mouse, menus and clicking to be an incredibly inefficient way of doing things. I spent a lot of time in college working with Adobe programs and using three and four character keyboard shortcuts to get things done faster. So when I found gleeBox and the amount of time-saving shorthand it had to offer. I was pretty excited.

GleeBox is a browser add-on available for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Once installed, pushing the G key will bring up the dialogue box. From here you can input a variety of commands as simple as opening a search page in a new window, to sharing whatever page you happen to be viewing with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail with the input of a simple command.

Pushing the period key will show a list of open tabs.

Pushing the Period (.) key will bring up a list of the current tabs you have open in your browsers. From there you can use your arrow keys to select the tab you want.

!share fb automatically shares your current page on your Facebook profile

There are also functions such as :wp and :tube that will allow you to search for a term on Wikipedia and YouTube respectively.

The amount of options available are endless due the ability to customize actions. This allows you to tailor gleeBox to do things that you typically do while browsing. I like to share websites with my friends on Facebook and the ability to share a link without having open up a different page and copy and paste the URL is really pretty cool for me. I am not much of a Twitter person, but the command that will automatically share whatever page you are on with a shortened URL would also seem to be pretty handy.

All in all gleeBox is a pretty cool and useful app. The amount of default commands available, and the ability to customize, means the sky is the limit.

Finally, here’s a link to a list of default commands: http://thegleebox.com/manual.html

Write Blog Posts From Inside Your Browser with ScribeFire

blogThat seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it? Blogging from insider your browser, I mean. That’s how most people do it — go to whatever blogging site they use, log in, and start typing.

But that’s not necessarily the best way. And it’s not the most convenient, either, especially if you have more than one blog. So, what is the best way? That depends on your needs. But a good choice is a browser extension called ScribeFire.

Let’s take a look at ScribeFire and what it can do.

A little about ScribeFire

ScribeFire ScribeFire is an extension for Google Chrome (it also works with Chromium, Chrome’s Open Source cousin), Safari, Firefox, and Opera. It adds a WYSIWYG blog editor to your browser that supports posting to most blogging platforms, including WordPress, Blogger, Movable Type, Posterous, and Tumblr.

Instead of logging into each blog, you can just pop open a ScribeFire window, type a post, and then publish that post with a couple of clicks. You can also save drafts on your computer to post later.

Now that all the background information is out of the way, let’s walk through how to work with ScribeFire.

Getting set up

The first thing that you’ll want to do is install ScribeFire. Just follow one of these links:

Once ScribeFire is installed, click the toolbar icon to open it. Then, click Add a New Blog. In the window that opens, enter the URL to your blog, select the type of blog it is from the Blog Type dropdown list, and enter your user name and password. After that, click Finish.

Adding a blog

Now you’re ready to go.

Writing posts

You’ve set up your blog or blogs. You probably want to start posting. To do that, select the blog for which you want to write the post from the BLOG list in the top-left corner. If you’ve only got one blog, then it’s already selected. Then, click Start a New Post. The WYSIWYG editor opens. Just start typing.

Editing a post

You can add various types of formatting to your post, like bold and italic text, indents, or highlighting. You can also add links, images, and YouTube videos as well as lists. You can’t add tables or actual headings in WYSIWYG mode, though.

But if you know some basic HTML, you can add a bit more formatting. Just click Switch to HTML Mode. In the HTML editor, add HTML tags (including the ones for headings and tables).

You can also add tags to your post by typing them in the TAGS field on the left of the ScribeFire window. You don’t need to do that, but it can help the folks who read your blog find posts on a specific topic faster.

Editing HTML

Once you’re done, click Publish to send the post to your blog. Or click Save Progress if you’re offline or still have some work to do later. ScribeFire saves your work to your hard drive and opens the unfinished/unpublished post the next time you start it up.

Moving your data between computers

If you’re using ScribeFire on more than one computer — say, your desktop and a laptop — and you have several blogs, it’s a lot of work to re-enter the information for each blog. Instead, you can back up your data. Click Transfer your ScribeFire data to/from another computer.

Transfer data

Then, do one of the following:

  • Click Export. A new browser tab containing some information opens. Copy and past that information into a text editor, then save it to your hard drive or something like your Dropbox account.
  • Click Choose File. Find the file that you saved, and then click Open. You’ll be prompted to close and then reopen ScribeFire.

ScribeFire is an easy-to-use and flexible tool for blogging. While it’s not a fully-featured as tools like BlogJet, ecto, or MarsEdit, ScribeFire is more than capable of handling most of your blogging needs. And you can’t beat the price.

Photo credit: svilen001

Firebug add-on for Firefox is known to slow Gmail

Firebug is a free, open source add-on for Firefox that provides essential tools for web developers. If you have Firebug installed and have logged into Gmail recently, however, you’ll be greeted with an intimidating message that states:

“Firebug is known to make Gmail slow unless it is configured correctly.”

This message also contains a link to “Fix This”, but you will notice that Google only provides a few vague sentences explaining that you need to disable Firebug for Gmail, and if that doesn’t work you should disable Firebug altogether. That isn’t very helpful, so in this article I’ll explain the procedure with more detail.

First off, I don’t know exactly why Firebug and Gmail aren’t getting along. I’ve been running Firebug for years and have never noticed excessive slowness with Gmail, but apparently others have not been so fortunate.

The easiest way to disable Firebug for a specific site is to browse to the site causing problems and press Shift + F12. This hotkey automatically disables Firebug for the current website you are browsing.

Alternatively, you can open the Firebug development panel by clicking the small bug icon in the Firefox status bar (if your status bar is hidden, you can also press the F12 key to open Firebug). In the top left corner of the Firebug panel, click the orange bug icon and select “Deactivate Firebug for This Site”.

Firebug will continue to operate on other websites, but when you browse to sites you explicitly disabled, the Firebug logo will turn grey to indicate it is no longer working.

If you continue having problems after deactivating Firebug for Gmail, you may be required to disable the add-on entirely. To do this, open Firefox add-ons by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + A, locate Firebug, click Disable, and restart your browser.

Disabling the Firebug add-on in Firefox

 

Restore the old-style status bar in Firefox 4 with Status-4-Evar

Update: As pointed out in the comments, the Tree Style Tab add-on was causing Firefox 4’s status bar to display in the bottom right corner of the browser. Status-4-Evar fixes this problem, and allows for a high degree of customization of the new status bar.

One of the major changes in Firefox 4 was a completely new status bar – or lack thereof. The status bar has been renamed the “Add-on Bar” and is disabled by default. Taking a cue from Chrome, URLs and status information is shown in as-needed in a small bar that hovers at the bottom of the browser window.

If you want to restore the original status bar functionality from previous versions of Firefox, Status-4-Evar brings back some of the old features and lets you specify exactly how you want things to appear.

A simple fix with Status-4-Evar

Simply download and install Status-4-Evar, then restart Firefox. If you don’t notice anything different right away, you’ll need to enable Firefox 4’s “Add-on bar” by clicking the Firefox menu, opening Options, and selecting “Add-on Bar”. You can also press Ctrl + /.

By default, Status-4-Evar will make all the little things right in the world: URL information will appear in the bottom left, the loading progress bar will appear somewhere in the middle, and add-ons will appear in the bottom right.

Status-4-Evar can do significantly more than just move things around in your status bar too. To access its options, open the Firefox Add-on Manager by pressing Ctrl + Shift + A and click Options under Status-4-Evar.

You’ll quickly find the developer of Status-4-Evar put a lot of time into this add-on; you can change the position of almost all elements in the status bar and even move them to different positions within the browser like the URL bar. This allows you to move the progress bar to the URL bar, just like the Fission add-on I covered in my Firefox add-ons for netbooks article.

If you find yourself missing the extra space that the only-show-when-needed hover status bar gave you, you can set Status-4-Evar to automatically hide itself after a customizable period of time.

Were you bothered by the new status bar in Firefox 4, or am I completely off my rocker? Share with me in the comments below.

Score Great Deals on Woot.com with Firefox and Chrome Browser Extensions

If you don’t know what Woot! is, it’s a site sells a single item each day (usually at an exciting price).  There are several different versions of the site – selling things like shirts, wine, and stuff for kids – but the original Woot! is the place where most of the action happens.

Every once in awhile, Woot! has a “Woot-Off”, where they abandon their usual deal-a-day methodology and instead offer limited quantities of items, sold one at a time, with a new item appearing as soon as the current one is sold out.  Mixed into Woot-Offs are “bags of crap”, which are blind grab bags full of random goodies.  At times, these bags of crap (lovingly referred to as BOCs) contain really nice things, like HDTVs and Xboxes.  Needless to say, it’s really hard to get a bag of crap, and the woot.com website is usually completely unreachable when one comes up for sale.

If you enjoy the occasional impulse buy, you can use some extensions for your Firefox or Google Chrome web browsers to stay up-to-date on the latest deals (and even get a better chance at purchasing the fabled bag of crap).

Woot! Watcher for Google Chrome

Chrome has a great extension called Woot! Watcher that gives you all the functionality you’ll need to grab deals on all of the Woot! websites.  This extension shows you deals from each website in a single window, and has optional notifications to let you know when new items are available.

woot-watcher-chrome

If a Woot-Off is going down (which is happening right now, if you’re lucky enough to read this article when it was posted), the Woot! Watcher icon turns into a flashing yellow siren.  You can set up optional Woot-Off voice alerts and notifications, and Woot! Watcher can even be configured to auto-buy bags of crap if they come up for sale (well, it doesn’t automatically buy it for you, but it will take you to the purchase screen to speed up the process).

woot-alarm

woot-settings

You will also see a percentage of how much stock the current item has left during a Woot-Off.

Woot BOC Purchaser for Firefox

The same developer of previously mentioned Woot! Watcher for Chrome makes the same extension for Firefox, but it is much less elegant and requires a giant sidebar window to display the daily deals.  I had preferred the less obtrusive Woot Watcher add-on, but unfortunately it hasn’t been updated since February 2010 and no longer functions properly.

Luckily, a different developer decided to pick up the abandoned Woot Watcher for Firefox add-on, fix the code, and add some new features.  You can download it at the Shopper Addon website, and to install it you’ll have to click Allow at the top of your browser window.

boc-1

boc-2

After restarting Firefox, today’s Woot! deal will be displayed in the status bar of your browser.  Clicking the item’s name will take you straight to Woot.com.  If a bag of crap happens to come up for sale, you will be automatically taken to the purchase page.

boc-3

Conclusion

With these extensions, you should be well on your way to blowing your hard-earned cash on impulse purchases.  And if you’re lucky, you might catch the Woot-Off that is going on right now.

Forecastfox Weather 2.0 Brings Weather Awesomeness To Firefox

If your job involves a lot of work in front of a computer, chances are that you don’t get outdoors throughout your work day.  You enter the office in the morning and it’s sunny, but when you leave it’s windy and snowing (which isn’t uncommon in my part of the world).  Even worse is if your computer isn’t located near a window, making it pretty much impossible to keep updated on the weather conditions outside.  But just because you’re in-front of a computer doesn’t mean that you can’t keep updated on the weather.

Forecastfox Weather is a great add-on for Firefox that can provide you with local weather information from AccuWeather.com right in your browser window.

Installing and Enabling Forecastfox

Step 1: Start by downloading and installing the add-on.  Restart Firefox when prompted to.

Step 2: Once Firefox has restarted, you’ll be directed to a new tab to configure Forecastfox for the first time.  If you don’t receive the settings tab, navigate to Tools > Add-ons > Extensions to open the settings tab.

Step 3: Customize your settings by entering your location, selecting your units, icons, and other options.

Using Forecastfox

Now that you have the add-on installed and enabled, take a look and see what it can do.  When you open Firefox you should notice some icons in your status bar.  What appears in the Forecastfox status bar is customized in the settings tab.  Hovering your mouse over the various icons provides you with a bit more weather information.

Hover over the green radar icon to see current radar information about your location.  The size of the radar image can be customized in the settings.

Hovering your mouse over the current day displays weather details for the remainder of the day.

Hovering over a different day provides you with both daytime and overnight weather information.

Forecastfox also allows provides you with severe weather alerts, custom icon selection, and the ability to move the weather information from the status bar to a toolbar.

You can also set Forecastfox up to pull information for multiple locations, which it can switch between every few minutes.

With the detailed information that Forecastfox provides, I no longer need to visit other weather sites for current information.  Give Forecastfox a try and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

How To: Create and Store Passwords Securely Using LastPass

Answer the following:

  • Do you use the same password for multiple (or all) websites?
  • Have you had the same password for more than 6 months?
  • Is your password strong?
  • Does your password contain plain dictionary words, or include personal information such as your name, address, or phone number?
  • Do you use your browser’s built-in password storing feature?

If any of these things are true, it’s understandable – nobody wants to memorize multiple passwords and make them overly complicated.  Unfortunately, it also means that your online security is compromised and could lead to you becoming a victim of identity theft.

Think of it this way:  if someone was able to access your Twitter account, they could potentially access your email if you had the same password for both.  Once your email has been compromised, an intruder could reset the passwords for the rest of your secure accounts (or even access something as important as your online bank accounts).

The solution to creating and managing strong, unique passwords across multiple websites is to use a password manager such as LastPass.  LastPass is an online password service that can be used with feature-rich plugins in Firefox and Internet Explorer, and can be used on any browser via unique bookmarklets or web access.

LastPass stores your passwords in a secure online vault which can only be opened with a master password that they do not store or even have access to.  Instead of remembering dozens of complicated passwords, all you have to do is remember your master password and it will unlock the rest of your passwords.

While it may seem dangerous to have one master password that can unlock all other passwords, the idea is that since you only have one password to remember, you’ll treat it with the utmost safety and change the password often.  To protect you from keyloggers (programs designed to record keystrokes), LastPass provides a visual keyboard which allows you to enter your password via mouse clicks.

Getting Started

To get started, you’ll want visit the LastPass download site to get the appropriate client.  The main download (recommended) contains plugins for both Internet Explorer and Firefox, but you can download a Firefox-specific plugin here.  If you don’t use Firefox or Internet Explorer, don’t worry – I’ll cover how to access your passwords without the plugins later in this article.

The next step is to create a LastPass account.  This will be the information that safeguards your password vault, so make sure you use a strong password (and don’t forget it – if you are locked out of this account, there is no way to recover it!).

Once your account has been created, you will be prompted to import your current passwords.  While this step is optional, it is important to do because most of your passwords are stored insecurely on your local computer.  After importing, LastPass will give you the option to remove your insecure passwords (remember, if LastPass can find your passwords, what could a malicious program do?).  If you are concerned about the safety of your passwords, LastPass provides some additional security information about their service.

In the next screen, LastPass gives you the option of securely storing personal information for use in forms.  While this particular feature could be useful, I will exclusively be focusing on passwords for this guide.

Finally, you can choose whether LastPass should automatically log you out (for public or shared computers, more secure) or keep you logged in for two weeks (for private computers only, less secure).  I would also recommend setting the Homepage Preference to “Do not set LastPass Vault as my homepage”.  When you click Done, you will have the option to watch a short video on the LastPass service.

Now that LastPass is fully installed, you will have toolbar buttons in both Internet Explorer and Firefox.  Clicking these buttons gives you a host of options as well as the ability to manually log out of the service.

When visiting sites with a secure login, LastPass will function just like your browser’s password storing feature did by prompting you to save your passwords.  After clicking ‘Yes’, your password will now be securely stored in your vault which can be accessed via the LastPass toolbar button.  While saving your password, you’ll be able to give it a name, store it in a group, or make it a favorite.

lastpass_savepassword

The next time you visit a site with a stored password, it will automatically be inserted if you are logged into LastPass.

To access your password vault, simply click the LastPass toolbar button and select My LastPass Vault.  This will display a webpage containing details for your login information, and you can automatically login to a secure site by clicking its name.  To view any of your passwords, click the [Edit] button and then click [Show].

Changing Your Passwords to Strong Passwords

Now that your passwords have been securely stored using LastPass’s vault, you can change your existing passwords to something more secure.  The biggest advantage of LastPass is that it can keep track of an unlimited number of complicated passwords, so I recommend generating unique passwords for every website you use.

To store a new password, login to a website and locate the password change section.  LastPass will display an information bar at the top of the page and offer to enter your current password. You can then click the ‘Generate’ button to create a secure new password.  If you are not given the information bar, you can right click the password field and select LastPass –> Generate Secure Password.

lastpass_newpass

After clicking the Generate button, you can click the Generate button inside the resulting dialog box to create new random passwords.  When you’ve found a password you like, click Accept and it will be inserted into both the password and password confirmation boxes.

Password criteria and settings can be adjusted by clicking the ‘Show Advanced Options’ checkbox.  In here, you will be able to adjust the length of the password as well as what characters are used to generate it.  I highly recommend checking the ‘Special’ box because it adds characters like !@$%^&* which make your password much more secure.

Once you have submitted your password change, LastPass will notify you that it has detected a password change and gives you the option to save the new password.

lastpass_confirm

Accessing Your Passwords From a Different Computer or Browser

While the LastPass plugin is the best way to access your passwords, there are times when you need to access your passwords on a shared computer or a browser that doesn’t support plugins.  For these circumstances, LastPass provides convenient bookmarklets that can be launched from any browser or computer.

To use the bookmarklets, log into your LastPass account and click the Bookmarklets tab.  In the dialog box, you will be provided with several bookmarklet links and instructions on how to use them in different browsers.  Once you get the bookmarklets added to your browser, you can click the ‘LastPass Login!’ bookmarklet and you will be automatically signed in to any secure website you’ve saved a password for (as long as you are logged into LastPass).

You can also access your secure sites by logging into LastPass and clicking the title of any saved website.  You will be automatically taken to that website’s login page and logged in.

If you ever want to view any of your passwords, you can click the ‘Edit’ button on a saved site and then click the [Show] button near the password field, which will allow you to copy and paste it wherever you like.

More Information

Check out the LastPass website for additional information including a feature list and several videos/screencasts.  As with any online service, make sure you trust the provider before using their service.

How To: Make The Most Of Your Bookmarks In Firefox

Bookmarks have evolved from the static entries they once were, and with the right Firefox add-ons you can get the most out of your bookmarks.  Listed below are a couple add-ons that will get you started with improving your bookmarking experience in Firefox.

rss-iconLive Bookmarks

Often an overlooked feature, Firefox’s Live Bookmarks feature allows you to subscribe to RSS feeds and have bookmarks updated when the feeds are updated, removing the need for an external RSS reader.  By default there is no notification of new feed items, and you must manually check.

You can easily subscribe to RSS feeds with Live Bookmarks by clicking any RSS icon on a webpage or the RSS icon in the Address Bar.

LiveClick

LiveClick is a Firefox Bookmark add-on that adds several features to Live Bookmarks.  Added features include:

  • New bookmark notification
  • Bookmark previews
  • Display site’s Favicon instead of the regular RSS icon.
  • Live Bookmark homepage access.

Another handy feature of LiveClick is it’s ability to mark differently which Live Bookmarks have been read and which are unread, making it easier to keep track of your Live Bookmarks.

xmarks

Xmarks

Xmarks (previously known as Foxmarks) is an add-on that allows you to synchronize your bookmarks and passwords with multiple computers.  Xmarks also allows you to view your bookmarks from any computer by visiting http://my.xmarks.com.

Another feature of Xmarks is that it allows for multiple profiles.  For example, this would allow you to have different bookmarks on a home computer as you would have on a work computer – with each profile backed-up on the Xmarks servers.

What are your thoughts on these bookmark enhancers?  Is there another bookmark add-on you’d like to recommend?  Let us know by commenting below.

Firefox Tip: How to Easily Save Websites for Later Reading

I’m constantly running across interesting articles and posts I want to save for later reading.  Bookmarks work well enough, but I don’t need to save these websites for long-term use – I want to be able to quickly check them out later when I’ve got free time.

Read It Later is a free add-on for Firefox which allows you to eliminate bookmark clutter with sites that are only of one-time interest to you.

When you first launch Firefox after installing Read it Later, you’ll have the option to log in or create a free Share It Later account.  Creating an account lets you synchronize your saved paged with any computer or device that supports Share it Later, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and  Android-based phones.

Creating an account isn’t mandatory though, so if you don’t need synchronization just click the Use Read It Later without an account link.

After you’ve created (or not created) an account, using Read it Later is simple.  When you come across a website you want to save for later, simply click the icon in the toolbar.  This adds the site to your reading list.

To view sites you’ve saved, click the Read It Later button in the toolbar.  If you’re looking for a specific link, you can use the search box to filter by URL, name, or tag.

If you plan on traveling or going somewhere without an internet connection, you can click the arrow icon to go into Offline mode.  This will save any sites in your Read It Later list to your local computer.

Once you’ve read a link in your Read It Later list, just click the red check mark to mark it as read and it will be removed from the list.

Read It Later works great for me because it gives me an easy way to save article leads and information for later and doesn’t fill up my bookmarks folder.  [Read It Later – Firefox Addons]

How To: Quickly Open Accidentally Closed Tabs in Firefox

undoclosedtab2

Firefox only:  Tabbed browsing in Firefox is incredibly useful and can improve your entire browsing experience; recovering an accidentally closed tab, however, isn’t particularly intuitive.

Firefox does keep a record of your recently closed tabs (which are available under History –> Recently Closed Tabs), but this guide will show you how to recover a closed tab with a single click using a handy toolbar button.

Head over to Firefox Add-ons page and download the Undo Closed Tabs Button add-on.  This feature will be enabled as soon as you restart your browser.

Once you’ve restarted your browser, the Undo Closed Tabs add-on is activated but still needs to be added to your toolbar.  Select View –> Toolbars –> Customize… as shown below.

undoclosedtab3

Scroll through the list until you find the Undo Closed Tab button, and drag it anywhere you like on your toolbar.

undoclosedtab4

Now whenever you close a tab, you can easily click the Undo Closed Tab button on your toolbar to reopen it.  This button also contains a dropdown list of all recently closed tabs (and removes it from the obscure location under the History menu).

undoclosedtab5

Note:  If you’re an avid keyboard shortcut user, Firefox’s built-in tab restoration can be triggered by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + T.