Just how popular are add-ons to Mozilla Firefox’s Web browser? A usage survey taken by Mozilla as of one year ago revealed that one-third of all Firefox users—at least—use add-ons in some capacity. That’s a pretty big deal, but not quite as eye-opening a number as the raw statistics from Mozilla’s official add-ons page.
According to the company, more than two billion add-ons have been downloaded since Firefox’s started tracking statistics back in August of 2007. There are currently 125 million add-ons in use as of this article’s writing, with more than 890,000 registered users attached to Mozilla’s official add-ons directory. I won’t bore you with any more statistics; suffice, there’s a lot of neat stuff you can install into your browser. And it appears that many are indeed doing so.
Where does one begin?
These are both questions that hit to the core of the Mozilla add-on experience. Simply put, your browser is only as good as the extensions you choose to install, and trying to get a handle on the ever-increasing world of Firefox add-ons can be as difficult for a first-timer as it is for an experienced add-on enthusiast. So we’ll make it simple. We’ve scoured the Web to come up with a listing of must-have add-ons for any Firefox installation, period.
And, even then, did we mention that we’ve found twenty?
A lot can be said about Google Chrome. And most of it should come as no surprise to you, the die-hard PC user that likely has more browsers installed within your operating system than games on your hard drive.
That’s not intended to be a disparaging statement; it’s celebratory. You’re a geek. You want to get the best browsing experience possible, which often involves jumping from browser to browser depending on what extensions or add-ons you like using, how you like pages rendered, and other miscellaneous—yet important—facets of the many available browsers you can choose from.
Well, a lot has changed since Chrome’s debut in late 2008. The gap between Mozilla’s extension library and Google’s has narrowed considerably. In fact, you can pretty much replicate an identical experience in each browser—for the most part, you’ll find extensions to fit just about anything you want to do.
But that certainly doesn’t help you when you get to the brass tacks of it all: Which extensions should you use? On a new installation of Chrome, what’s the top-ten list of items you need to download before you run your first Google search; read your first Maximum PC article; chuckle at your first lolcat?
Browser extensions may seem innocuous from a security standpoint to most internet surfers, but as with any chunk of code it is a mistake to presume their harmlessness. It is a lesson that probably most of the people, who downloaded a Firefox add-on called Mozilla Sniffer, have learnt by now.
“Mozilla Sniffer has been downloaded approximately 1,800 times since its submission and currently reports 334 active daily users. All current users should receive an uninstall notification within a day or so,” Mozilla said in a statement on its blog. “The site this add-on sends data to seems to be down at the moment, so it is unknown if data is still being collected.”
Mozilla has also disabled another add-on, CoolPreviews, after a security escalation vulnerability was discovered in version 3.0.1. All previous versions of the add-on have been disabled along with the flawed version. However, a fixed version “was uploaded and reviewed within a day of the developer being notified.”
Security is important, yo. While a lot of sites on the ol' World Wide Web might support HTTPS connections, that doesn't mean that typing www.sitename.com into your browser will always pull up an encrypted connection between you and your final location. But don't take my word for it. Quoth the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
"Many sites on the web offer some limited support for encryption over HTTPS, but make it difficult to use. For instance, they may default to unencrypted HTTP, or fill encrypted pages with links that go back to the unencrypted site."
So how, then, do we address this problem? Step one is staring at the little lock icon within your browser. If the lock ain't locked, then you're not rocking a secure connection. Easy as that.
It's hard to deny the power of Google Docs, especially if you don't have the cash (or the wherewithal) to shell out for Microsoft Office. Sure, you could grab OpenOffice.org, but you would trade away the ability to edit your documents from any Internet-equipped location-one of Google Doc's important, Cloud-based features... as well as its ability to allow multiple users to simultaneously edit a document. You just can't get this kind of stuff in an offline word processor!
Of course, that's not to say that you can't use Google Docs offline. Nor are applications like Microsoft Word completely removed from the Internet-there's Microsoft Office Live for that, if you're so inclined.
Anyway, the point of this Freeware Files is not to confuse you in feature-lists or semantics. I'm here to show you just how easy it is to set up your system to use both offline and online word processing tools. Provided you're ready to jump into the wide world of Google Docs, all of the freeware and open-source applications listed below will do much to help integrate online editing and storage into your traditional offline type-type-typing.
One of Google Chrome's more useful features is its ability to display recently opened Web pages and your most-visited Web pages via a little visual table whenever you open up a new, "blank" tab. For the Web surfer with a limited range of interests or for those interested in a quick way to hit their favorite sites in one go, this functionality is miles ahead of Firefox's, well, blank tab. But here's the problem: You can't actually customize anything on Chrome's launching page. Or, rather, you can only pin and subtract.
What I mean by that is Chome lacks the ability to let you pick, from the start, exactly what you want to appear on your "new tab" page. If a site happens to make its way across your "most viewed" list and you want to stick it there, you can pin said side to your page by hovering your mouse over the image until its blue configuration frame appears. You use the same process to prevent certain sites from ever appearing on this page--I'm not going to ask what those might be. Other than that, you're stuck--unless you start refreshing a particular page to the point of annoyance just to get it to appear, you have no way to actually predefine or shuffle around these sites.
The Chrome Extension Speed Dial is your solution for complete and total customization of your new tab page in Google's browser. It's not perfect, but it's a welcome addition to any Chrome-tweaker's arsenal. Find out about all its features after the jump!
We've been treading in the waters of Google Chrome extensions since their "official" release to the browser's beta channel a few months back. With the number of legitimate Chrome extensions now pushing the 1,500 mark, it's about time for this relatively new soldier on the Web browser battlefield to get its own spotlight. Chrome extensions are here to stay--as well they should be. A number of excellent carryovers from Firefox's extensive add-on library have joined forces with a fresh batch of Chrome-only extensions to create a sizeable number of tweaks, hacks, and plug-ins for your enhanced browsing pleasure.
The inaugural extension in the weekly "Chrome Extension of the week" series does its part to reduce your daily repetition with whatever Web tasks you frequent. Sound confusing? I'd hate to spoil the story by saying that this extension allows you to record and play macros for whatever it is you do on the Internet, but I guess I just kind of did. The extension's called iMacros for Chrome, and its name does an excellent job of conveying just what this helpful little add-on does to your general browsing experience. Quickly fill out Web forms, perform usability testing, run a ton of searches, login to Web sites... the possibilities are limited only by your imagination!
Click the jump to find out how this extension works!
It's always a curious enterprise when a company elects to deliver a fully-functional, nag-free version of a piece of software alongside a paid-for, "professional" or "super-bonus" edition of the same program. And it's not always easy to separate the freeware from an app's costly "real" version. Companies tend to do all they can to promote the latter-and with good reason-instead of delivering as much face-time and promotional effort for the freeware versions of their products. You might find an errant link to the inexpensive app on a download page... and that's it.
Such is the case with VS Revo Group's popular Revo Uninstaller application. I had been meaning to check out the professional version of this wicked uninstallation application for some time now, as curiosity was killing me. What's the big difference between the $40 edition and the freeware version?
It's been exactly a month since we last visited the topic of Google Chrome. With both Windows and OSX beta versions of the browser now supporting add-ons, and with nearly 1,500 possible extensions flooding the Chrome Extensions "marketplace" since December 8, 2009, it's about time to take another look at the overflowing mass of Chrome add-ons. Why? To build the perfect browser, of course. Allow me a moment to monologue:
I've been a Mozilla Firefox user for a long, long time. Simply put, I love extensions. Being able to build new elements into my browsing experience, from Cloud-based bookmark synchronization to Sudoku puzzles, has been one of the more awesome elements of using this piece of software. If only it was that easy to enhance or extend the usefulness of any program one installed!
I've been hesitant to switch to Chrome for this very reason--without add-on support, I'm missing out on 50- to 75-percent of the awesomeness I've build into my admittedly slower and more memory-hogging browser, Firefox. But that's an argument that's slowly dying away. A number of Firefox's best add-ons have made the conversion over to Google Chrome, and that's exactly what I'll be exploring in this Freeware Files roundup.
These extensions are the crème de la crème. The best. The add-ons you should rush to pack into any new installation of Google Chrome, period. But that's not all--I'm also going to take a look at some apps that interact with Google Chrome or, in some cases, replace Google Chrome entirely... you'll see what I mean when it comes to interesting alternatives!
Boo. That's exactly what the various advertising networks on the Internet are saying to one another as they possess your browsing experience without your knowledge. Okay, so the situation isn't that grim--it's not as if the various Web tracking services and advertising networks are typing strange messages into your search boxes or sending you off to arcane locations via your address bar. Still, nobody likes the feeling like their activities are being looked at.
And that's where the Firefox add-on Ghostery comes into the picture. Like Casper, this friendly little ghost-themed program does an excellent job of showing you exactly who's tuning in to your Web activity. But that's not all--this extension does a bit more than just notify you of the fellow spooks in the room.
Click the jump to check out the rest of Ghostery's feature-set!