Essential Add-ons for Firefox #3: Netbook Edition

firefox_addons_poweruser_thumbIn the third edition of our Essential Add-ons for Firefox series, I’ll be showing you how to maximize your usable workspace in Firefox.  This is especially useful for netbooks, which have small displays and typically offer a very limited amount of vertical space.

The goal of this guide is to free up as much vertical space as possible and put a clear focus on the most important part of your netbook: browsing the internet.

Personal Menu

firefox_addons_poweruser_personalmenuPersonal Menu allows you to completely remove the standard Firefox menu toolbar which frees up valuable vertical space.  This add-on creates a series of buttons to the right of the address bar (similar to Chrome and Internet Explorer 7/8), which contain your bookmarks, history, and one fully customizable menu.  I edited my custom menu to contain standard menu items (File, Edit, View, Tools) and also a handy “Restart Firefox” item.


Tree Style Tabs

treestyletab_thumbTree Style Tabs converts your horizonal tab bar into a vertical column with a tree-style hierarchy.  Not only does this add-on give you great control over your tabs, you also save valuable vertical space by removing the standard horizontal bar.  If you want more horizontal space with this add-on, it can be set to automatically hide.



essential-addons-netbook-omnibarIf Google Chrome has shown us one thing, it’s that a browser doesn’t need a separate bar to perform a web search; it can be combined with the standard address bar.  The Omnibar add-on for Firefox does just that, and gives you intelligent results based on what you are typing into the address bar.


Smart Stop/Reload

essential-addons-netbook-smartstopreloadTo save some additional space in your browser’s toolbar, the Smart Stop/Reload add-on combines the refresh and stop buttons into one intelligent button (you can’t press them at the same time anyway, right?).



essential-addons-netbook-fissionQuite possibly one of the most useful add-ons on this list, Fission removes the status bar at the bottom of your browser and places it in the address bar instead.  The address bar will then display page loading status with an optional progress bar (Safari style) and can also display links when you hover your mouse over them.  Be sure to check out the settings for this add-on (under Tools -> Addons) and customize it to your liking.


Honorable Mention

autoHideStatusbar – This add-on can be used in place of Fission to automatically hide your status bar when it isn’t needed (like Chrome).  Please note that this add-on is still considered “experimental” and has not been extensively tested by the Mozilla community.

Tiny Menu – Similar to Personal Menu, Tiny Menu combines Firefox’s menu toolbar into one button on your toolbar.

Additional Browser Tips for Netbooks

Small Toolbar Icons – You can save quite a bit of space in your browser’s toolbar by making your toolbar icons smaller.  To do this, go to View -> Toolbars -> Customize and check the Use Small Icons button at the bottom.

Remove Bookmarks Toolbar – I know it’s handy, but those vertical pixels can be better used for browsing the internet.  With the Personal Menu add-on, all of your bookmarks (including your bookmarks toolbar) are available from a toolbar button.  To remove Firefox’s bookmarks toolbar, go to View -> Toolbars and deselect Bookmarks Toolbar.

Browsing in Full Screen – You can enter full screen browsing mode by pressing F11 on your keyboard or going to View -> Full Screen.  This will turn your entire screen into a browser window.

If you’d like to install all of the add-ons in the Techerator Essential Add-ons for Firefox #3: Netbook Edition pack, check out our Firefox Collections site.

For more great add-ons, check out Essential Add-ons for Firefox #1: Power User Edition and Essential Add-ons for Firefox #2: Socialite Edition.

Have any add-ons that improve browsing on your netbook or laptop? Share them with us in the comments!

Essential Add-ons for Firefox #2: Socialite Edition

firefox_addons_poweruser_thumbIn the second installment of Techerator’s Essential Add-ons for Firefox series, I’ll be covering add-ons that help unleash the social maven deep inside of you.  Whether you’re the core of your internet social circle or just want to use your email and Twitter better, this guide will give you the tools to use your browser to its full potential.


firefox-socialite-sociableShareaholic is the best add-on I’ve found to connect you to all your social networks at once.  Shareaholic allows you to send links to Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and over 50 other social networks (with the option to disable sites you don’t use).  This add-on can be set to display in your browser toolbar, your URL bar (my preference), and your right click menu, which keeps your networks just a click away.

After installing Shareaholic, click the green Shareaholic button in your browser’s toolbar and select ‘Manage Your Services’ to get started.  You can also control where Shareaholic is displayed by clicking the ‘Appearance’ tab at the top of the Services window.


Gmail Manager

firefox-socialite-gmailmanagerIf you use Gmail, Google’s free email service, Gmail Manager provides great access to multiple accounts simultaneously.  Even if you just have one Gmail account, Gmail Manager alerts when you receive new messages and lets you preview your inbox (by hovering your mouse over the statusbar icon).

If you only need notifications when you receive new email, check out the Gmail Notifier add-on.


Better Gmail 2

firefox-socialite-bettergmail2Another add-on for Gmail users, Better Gmail 2 is a fantastic collection of former Greasemonkey scripts combined into a single Firefox add-on.  Better Gmail 2 provides features that Gmail probably should provide (and many times Gmail has adopted features used in the add-on).

The most recent version of Better Gmail 2 lets you display your unread message count in Gmail’s favicon, highlights message rows on mouseover, displays icons for specific email attachments (like images or Word documents), and adds Folders4Gmail (which lets you create hierarchical labels which behave like the folders shown in the picture).



firefox-socialite-twitterfoxTwitterFox gives you full access to your Twitter feed right in your browser’s statusbar.  This add-on features notifications of new tweets (which can be disabled for less distractions), support for multiple accounts, two color schemes, and typical Twitter functionality like replies and retweets.  I use TwitterFox the most when I’m away from my home computer (in lieu of installing a full Twitter client), and it provides a great way to stay connected to your network.



firefox-socialite-stumbleStumbleUpon helps you discover new and interesting websites based on your personal tastes, and is a great way to ensure you’re never bored while using Firefox ever again.  After picking categories that interest you (I chose topics such as “video games”, “internet tools”, and “science/tech”) and creating an account, you can click the “Stumble!” button in your browser toolbar to be instantly taken to a website that fits the criteria you selected.

StumbleUpon lets you vote whether you liked or disliked the site (using the thumbs up/down controls in your toolbar) and lets you share your discoveries with your friends.



firefox-socialite-deliciousDelicious (formerly is a free service that lets you synchronize and share your bookmarks online, making them accessible anywhere you have an internet connection.  The Delicious add-on for Firefox gives you access to your bookmarks and lets you easily share, tag, and bookmark new websites from within your browser.  If you’re new to Delicious, the add-on lets you import your current Firefox bookmarks to get you started.



firefox-socialite-tabooIf you like tabs as much as we do, then you’ve probably found yourself with dozens of tabs open and not enough time to view them all.  Taboo lets you save a list of your currently open tabs (with screenshots of each site you have open) so you can easily access them later.  This add-on also features a search feature which helps you quickly find your saved tabs.



firefox-socialite-yoonoYoono is the ultimate add-on for a true digital socialite.  It combines almost every social network and instant messenging service in your Firefox sidebar, letting you set your status and share links across Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and many other services all at once.  Yoono also includes a website discovery feature (very similar to StumbleUpon), so you’re almost guaranteed to be kept busy with this add-on.

Yoono does duplicate functionality of several add-ons featured in this guide, so you may want to disable them if you suddenly find yourself being overwhelmed by social networks.


If you’d like to install all of the add-ons in the Techerator Essential Add-ons for Firefox #2: Socialite Edition pack, check out our Firefox Collections site.

For more great addons, check out Essential Add-ons for Firefox #1: Power User Edition.

Do you have any add-ons for the socially-centered that we missed?  Share them with us in the comments!

Essential Add-ons for Firefox #1: Power User Edition

firefox_addons_poweruser_thumbOne of the most useful features of Firefox are add-ons, small applications that can add new functionality to the browser or change its appearance.  Unfortunately, there are literally thousands of add-ons available, meaning that many of the good ones get lost in the noise.

In part one of our featured Essential Add-ons for Firefox series, I’ll be covering add-ons that I feel are vital to getting the most from your browsing experience.

Tree Style Tab

treestyletab_thumbThis add-on quickly skyrocketed on my of “Things I must have in Firefox” list.  Tree Style Tab changes your horizontal tab bar into a vertical bar with a tree hierarchy, which can give you more vertical space on a widescreen monitor.  Although it takes a little getting used to (I still instinctively look to the top of my screen), you will be able to manage many more tabs at a once.  Tree Style Tab is very customizable and works well with other tab modification add-ons.  Check out our full guide to Tree Style Tab.



lastpass_genpassLastPass is the ultimate in cross-platform, cross-browser password management.  This add-on securely stores your passwords in an online vault and locks them with a password that only you know.  This allows you to create dozens of complex, random passwords without having to remember them.  Since the vault is accessible online, you can access your passwords on any computer or browser (using a JavaScript bookmarklet in browsers without plugin support).  Check out or full guide to LastPass.


IE Tab

firefox_addons_poweruser_ietabWindows only: Let’s be honest – there will always be a few websites that only render properly in Internet Explorer.  We can hope that web developers follow best practices when creating websites, but in the mean time IE Tab allows you to render any website in Internet Explorer from within Firefox.  You can even set it to automatically render certain websites, which works great for * domains.



firefox_addons_poweruser_rightclicklinkOccasionally, I’ll encounter an unclickable link.  Normally, a person would copy and paste (or type) the address in the URL bar, but Right-Click-Link allows you to right click the dead link and open it without the extra work.  This is a great example of the “little things” that can be improved with add-ons.



firefox_addons_poweruser_locationbarHighlighting URL roots was popularized in Google Chrome, and now Firefox users can add this feature with the Locationbar² add-on.  This add-on highlights the root domain of the website you are browsing to help identify phishing or spoofing in URLs.  Even better, it makes subsections of the URL clickable when you hold the CTRL or ALT keys, so you can click directly to the root of a website.


Multiple Tab Handler

firefox_addons_poweruser_multipletabsMultiple Tab Handler adds one of my single favorite features: Close Other Tabs.  This allows you to right click a tab (or tabs) you want to keep open and close all other quickly.  It also adds features to close, reload, and duplicated selected (or all) tabs.  This add-on doesn’t work perfectly with Tree Style Tab yet, but the developers appear to be working together to improve this.



firefox_essentials_poweruser_greasemonkeyGreasemonkey allows you to install small scripts which can dramatically change the way a website looks or functions.  This add-on is one of the single most useful on this list, and many Greasemonkey scripts eventually work their way into independent add-ons.  Greasemonkey can help you manage multiple gmail accounts, turn you into a Facebook power user, and let you automatically watch YouTube videos in high definitionCheck out our full guide to Greasemonkey.


Personal Menu

firefox_addons_poweruser_personalmenuPersonal Menu can save you some serious space in your browser (which is great for netbooks).  This add-on lets you remove Firefox’s standard menu toolbar and replace it with highly customizable buttons.  You’ll have an independent button for history and favorites, as well as the Personal Menu button which can contain any of the menus present in the standard toolbar.



firefox_addons_poweruser_xmarksXmarks (formerly Foxmarks) is a great way to keep all your bookmarks synchronized across multiple computers.  This add-on provides seamless synchronization between your browser and the Xmarks servers, allowing you to access your bookmarks anywhere.  Xmarks has the unique ability to sync bookmarks from Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari, and also provides a secure password sync (but I recommend sticking with LastPass).  Check out our guide to making the most of your bookmarks.


Download Statusbar

firefox_addons_poweruser_downloadbarThe default download manager window in Firefox is clunky and can get in the way.  Download Statusbar replaces the standard download window with a small, sleek toolbar that exists at the bottom of your browser.  This add-on is incredibly customizable (with more features than the standard window) and can be set to auto-hide to save space.


URL Fixer

firefox_addons_poweruser_urlfixerThis great little add-on will automatically correct typos in your URL bar.  If you accidentally type techerator.con it will automatically suggest (and the notification can be disabled for seamless correction).  URL Fixer works for common misspellings of .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, .mil, and many other URLs.



firefox_addons_autopagerAutoPager will make it so you never have to click ‘Next Page’ on a website ever again.  When you reach the bottom of a page (such as Google search results), the next page will automatically be loaded seamlessly with the current page you are viewing.  AutoPager supports hundreds of popular websites and will dramatically improve your browsing experience.  Note: AutoPager includes advertisements by default, but they can be easily disabled by following this guide.


If you’d like to install all of the add-ons in the Techerator Essential Add-ons for Firefox #1: Power User Edition pack, check out our Firefox Collections site.

For more great Firefox Add-ons, check out Essential Add-ons for Firefox #2: Socialite Edition.