2 Firefox extensions that might make you switch browsers

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know I can hardly stop gushing over Google Chrome.  It’s my favorite browser.  Back in 2013, I published my favorite Chrome extensions and I’ve been an ardent evangelist for years.

But does that mean we’re going to forsake our lovable little Firefox?

Nope.

There are a few Firefox extensions which I think are estimable and worthy of respect. Firemin isn’t exactly an extension but it certainly augments the browser and improves memory management.  And the beautiful LightBeam extension shows you which sites are tracking you and why you’re being tracked.

So today I want to show you two extensions that are unique to Firefox and worth checking out. Currently, you won’t find them on Chrome, Internet Explorer or Vivaldi.

1. Excellent Extension: The Fox

Yo, it’s time to say what’s up to the Fox.

So here’s the thing: the default Firefox theme is fine for insipid web surfers.

But seriously, I bet if you and I sat down for a 30 minute cup of tea (I don’t drink coffee) I would immediately discover that you’re way more interesting then you realize.  This is observation not adulation.  Flattery is for fools.  And that’s why your browser should reflect your unique personality.

Firefox makes this super easy with two tools:

  • The Fox extension
  • Themes

The Fox extension trims the weight off your browser, slims the navigation bar and makes it look really slick.

When you install the extension it immediately hides the navigation and location bars.  But don’t worry everything is still there.  Just push your cursor near the top of the viewport and all your controls will faithfully pop back into view.

The Fox extension for Firefox

And there are tons of settings available in the options panel.

I encourage you to play with all the settings here but to get you started I would immediately change the Animation property from “Roll out” to “GiT’s Hinge Effect”.

I won’t describe what this does; just do it and smile.

The Fox options screen

When you combine The Fox extension with the thousands of themes available in the Firefox marketplace, it becomes obvious why Firefox is still a valid choice for browser junkies.

The nice thing about themes, is that you don’t even have to download the themes to check them out.  Just click through the category lists in the left pane, and as you mouse over each theme, your browser immediately updates to show you a preview.  It couldn’t get any easier.  There are categories for:

    • Film
    • TV
    • Holiday
    • Abstract
    • Solid
    • Scenery

and too many others to list.  Check it out and feel free to infuse your personality into your browser.

I had loads of fun playing with mine.

FireFox themes

2. No Script

Let’s get real for a second: the web is teaming with people who simply want to make your life suck.

Sometimes it feels like there’s a bad site for every good site out there.  But fortunately there is one noble developer who really wants to protect you from malicious scripts.


By “malicious scripts”, I’m referring to XSS (Cross Site Scripting) where an unsavory hacker injects harmful Javascript code into a benign site that’s vulnerable to XSS attacks. So even if you white-listed the known trusted site, since it’s vulnerable to XSS attacks you could still have your valuable information stolen.


 

Giorgio Maone created an excellent Firefox extension that lets you explicitly choose how much risk to take on when surfing the web.

As you surf the web, NoScript furtively watches for bad scripts and blocks those that are obviously nefarious.  You can see how many were blocked in the bottom edge of the browser or take control of your scripts by clicking the little “S” icon in the upper right corner of the navigation bar.

NoScript blocks untrusted site

You can also completely block all scripts on the page by clicking Untrusted marking the site as Untrusted.

This will give you the best security; (short of not going to the site all together) however, you may lose core functionality.

For example, notice how none of the featured article images displayed after I blocked huffpo.com

NoScript being a little too aggressive

If marking the site as untrusted spoils your fun you can do the next best thing: only allow safe scripts to run from the specific site in view.

Use NoScript to grant safe scripts access

But let’s say your co-worker sends you a link to a website that you’ve never heard of.

Hey man, I just got this great program that lets me organize my Outlook calendar.  I downloaded from filehippo.com. It works beautifully – you should seriously check it out.

Since your Outlook calendar is a mess and you trust your co-worker, you check out the site but are immediately assaulted by a fusillade of popups, popunders and flashing lights.  This is obviously a bad sign – but if you want to know if the website is legit, click the NoScript icon again but this time hold down the Shift key when you click Allow filehippo.com.

You’ll see a Security and Privacy Info tab that displays scorecards from six reputable sites.  Now you can click each link to test the credibility of your co-workers link.

FileHippo Security and Privacy Info

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, Firefox is still a great browser.  Like most browsers out there, sometimes there are bad days when Firefox feels inordinately slow but overall I think it’s reliable.  And when you skin the interface with excellent extensions like TheFox, shop for custom themes in the marketplace and protection your web presence with NoScript, you can really regain control of the web and look good doing it too.

Do you have a Firefox extension you love that I should have mentioned?

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Posted in Mozilla Firefox, Web Browsers, Windows Tagged with: ,