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Friday, July 18, 2008

Best Firefox Add-ons for Writers

In this recent post I talked about the new Firefox 3 web browser, and why I have been a Firefox fan for some time.

In that post I mentioned that one of the main reasons I like Firefox is the ability you have to customize it using add-ons (also known as plug-ins and extensions). In this post, then, I thought I'd share with you the add-ons I use myself, and then invite you to share yours via the blog's Comments facility.

As I mentioned before, one of my favourite add-ons is Morning Coffee. This creates a coffee cup icon on the main Navigation toolbar. When you click on this it opens your favourite websites (as entered by yourself) simultaneously in different tabs. I use this feature every day to quickly check my blog, forum and a few other sites I like to monitor regularly.

You can customize Morning Coffee to work in various ways, e.g. you can set some sites (perhaps work-related) not to appear at the weekend, or have some only open on certain days. Personally, though, I have all my sites open every day. Work and leisure tend to blend into one for us full-time freelances!

Another add-on I use a lot is Tinyurl Creator. As you may know, Tinyurl is a free service that converts long URLs into much shorter ones. I use it all the time when writing newsletters and articles that refer to specific web pages. The Tinyurl add-on gives you an icon you can click on any time; and it will then automatically create a Tiny URL for the page you are on and save it to your clipboard. It's a simple tool, but one that saves me constantly going back and forth to the Tiny URL website.

My next add-on is equally useful to me, though I don't use it quite as much. This is IE Tab, and what it does is allow you to convert any tab in Firefox into the equivalent in Internet Explorer. This is great with those (few) sites that don't work or display properly in Firefox.

In my case, I find that my Internet banking service doesn't work properly in a Firefox tab - I get error messages when I try to perform certain actions. So I just switch to Internet Explorer mode, and all runs smoothly. A small icon appears in the status bar at the foot of the page, and you click on this to toggle from one mode to the other.

Colorful Tabs is an indulgence, but I like it anyway. It gives all the tabs you are using in Firefox a pretty pastel background. All the colours are different, so it makes it a bit easier to distinguish one from another - but really, I just like it because it livens up my desktop!

TwitterFox is an add-on for users of the micro-blogging and social networking service Twitter. It allows me to see incoming 'tweets' any time I am browsing the web. It also lets me create my own updates, including (if I wish) the URL of the web page I am currently viewing. This makes it easy for me to fit 'Twittering' around my work. If I come across something I think would interest my followers, with Twitterfox it takes only a moment to circulate a quick note about it.

...Do feel free to follow me on Twitter, by the way!

My final add-on is the Text Formatting Toolbar. As the name indicates, this gives you an extra toolbar on your browser, but you can of course switch it off via the View menu when you don't need it. This toolbar lets you quickly format text in bulletin-board code, HTML or Wiki code. I use it mainly for formatting forum messages, but it's also useful for creating hyperlinks in blog comments, and in other cases where you need to create a quick bit of HTML on the fly.

So those are my favourite Firefox add-ons, but I'm sure there are many other good ones I haven't tried. If you're a keen Firefox user like me, why not post details of your favourite add-ons here? And if you're not yet a Firefox fan, perhaps I may have given you another reason to give it a try. Here's the download link for Firefox 3 once again.

Happy browsing!

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Anonymous Andrew E said...

For folks who like downloading, DownThemAll is pretty handy for grabbing more than one file on a page.

For those who need more distractions in their lives, there is the incredibly addictive StumbleUpon.

I also like Cooliris, which pops up a preview window of any link, saving you the hassle of going there.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Many thanks, Andrew. I forgot to mention StumbleUpon, but I do also have their toolbar installed. I've discovered some great sites using this, though it can also be a terrific time-waster!

Cooliris is an add-on I definitely want to check out. I'm not a huge downloader normally, but I'll bear in mind DownThemAll if that changes!

Anyone else got any suggestions?

11:57 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

I've just added the Google Notebook extension for Firefox. This is meant to make it easier to make notes from the Internet. You can select text, images etc. from any web page and save them to your Google Notebook with a single click. Could be very useful, though I don't know for sure yet. If you're interested, you can download it yourself here.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Christian-Mark Cawley said...

I don't know if you've covered this before, but for bloggers Scribefire is a superb Firefox add-on

6:58 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Agree with you 100%, CMC. I plan to write a complete post about Scribefire soon. I use it to write all my posts for this blog now.

7:28 PM  

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