November 29, 2008
I’m in the business of making my life easier. But really, who isn’t? It’s not often that someone is all ‘Hey, I want to make my life as difficult as possible! And waste lots of time waiting for things! And I strive to be as disorganized as I can be!’
Enter Firefox. On its own, Firefox is pretty great. But add to it all the gadgets and gizmos that Those Nerds develop (and I say ‘Nerd’ in the most affectionate, grateful way imaginable!) and it has quickly become something I cannot do without. Seriously. When I had to switch to using our old desktop for 3 weeks while my laptop was being fixed, the first thing I did was download and install all of my preshus Firefox addons because my skin was practically ITCHING without them. And yes, I realize that’s probably something I should take care of, preferably by seeking professional help.
So, you know what’s coming, right? A list! I love lists! But this one is better than what my kid has been doing lately, or what projects we have going on around the house, or what I’m doing this weekend. This one is a list of the Firefox addons I find incredibly useful and think that you might, too. I know, I’m such a giver.
Better Gmail 2
As with Firefox, if you aren’t using Gmail, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? I gave up my Hotmail account several years ago and haven’t regretted it a bit. Too many emails were disappearing (important ones involving clients! ack!) and I just got fed up. I heart Gmail. And now, with this Firefox plugin, I have all sorts of fun features, like hierarchical labels (a LIFESAVER for me and all of my work emails), turning off the annoying ‘Spam’ count (because who really cares?!), hiding the chat and invites box (because I HATE clutter.) and so so many more. It also has some skin features, but now Gmail has their own themes feature so I’m not sure how that will all fit together in the future. But overall, the Better Gmail 2 addon is a must for me.
My friend BurghBaby’s Mom told me about this one, and I SO wish I had found it sooner! I use Google Reader to keep up with all of my blog reading. And while I love how efficient it is, I will admit that I miss the ability to see the nice pretty designs and themes that everyone uses. With this plugin, you can view (and comment on!) your favorite blogs without leaving Google Reader, just by clicking on the post title. It opens right there like a normal page, with the Google Reader interface around it. Pretty slick. And it’s also nice because I can still give some page view lovin’ to my bloggy friends who have ads on their site :)
Foxmarks Bookmarks Synchronizer
This is one I just recently found and I will admit that I haven’t used it much- at least not actively. It does all its work in the background, uploading and syncing my bookmarks between multiple computers. I thankfully haven’t needed to test this one out yet, but from what I can tell, if I ever need to access my bookmarks from a different computer, it will be easy to do.
Greasemonkey isn’t a specific plugin, exactly. It’s more of a way to use any number of small scripts that are helpful or fun on other websites. The only one I’m using at the moment is the Flickr Buddy Icon Reply script, which gives me a link next to each commenter on my photo stream that allows me to include their little icon when I reply to them. (It also gives me the option to just use their name instead of their icon.) It’s not going to save the world, obviously, but it is a nifty little feature.
Remember The Milk (for Gmail)
OH MY WORD. This is the one I would be lost without. If you recall, I said I love lists. And sometimes, I NEED them. RememberTheMilk.com is a great ‘To Do’ list tool. But I will be honest- I have only ever logged into the main website once or twice. Everything else is done through the Gmail/Firefox addon. It’s right there in my sidebar, next to my Inbox, allowing me to just glance over quickly and see what I need to do that day. And it gives you all kinds of options for organizing- color-coded checkmarks for prioritizing items, dates, tags, locations, notes… very powerful. And in my case: very vital.
TwitterFox is a small, non-obtrusive Twitter application that integrates right into Firefox. I have tried just about all of the desktop PC apps for Twitter, and while they’re all pretty good, this one has fit my needs the best- mostly because it’s easy to use, easy to get to, AND it’s easy to ignore. It doesn’t ding or pop up in my face every 3 or 5 minutes when someone posts a Tweet. It separates my friend feed, my replies, and my direct messages for me, and I can see everyone’s buddy icon. And it keeps track of read/unread Tweets. Best of all, it’s right there in my Firefox window- which is great, because I keep Firefox open pretty much the entire time I’m on my computer.
Web Developer Toolbar
This one is a little more geeky than the rest, but it’s no less important to me! It allows me to do all kinds of things, like disable the CSS stylesheets on any page I’m viewing, or outline images and block elements (sooo helpful when I’m trying to position something ‘just so’). I can fill in all the form fields on a page automatically with sample information, which is extremely helpful when I’m testing forms and database functions. There are tools for HTML validation, window resizing… the list goes on. When I’m working on a site, I use this toolbar all the time.
ColorZilla and MeasureIt
Along the same lines as the Web Developer Toolbar, these two addons are useful while I’m working. With ColorZilla, I can take a dropper and pick out any color on any webpage, and it will give me the Hex code and RGB numbers. And MeasureIt lets me draw a ruler to get the pixel dimensions of any area on a webpage- also useful when I’m coding and trying to line things up properly.
And that’s about it. I’m always finding and looking for new Firefox tools to make things easier, or just more fun. Do you have any you can’t live without? Please share!