15 Must-Have Firefox Add-Ons

Video Download Helper

Video Download Helper lets you download clips from YouTube (and many other sites).
Video sites such as YouTube and others are certainly entertaining, and at times even useful. But there's one problem with them: You can't download videos to your PC to play them later. You have to revisit the site each time you want to see a video.

Video DownloadHelper does away with this limitation. It will let you download videos from YouTube and many other sites and store them on your hard disk, so you can watch them whenever you want. When you're on a site, all you'll have to do is click the Video DownloadHelper icon and save the video. You can also do the same for graphics and audio clips.

Some video and music files can be quite large, so the program gives you the option of not downloading files over a certain size. It can also work with any video converter program that you may have installed to convert videos to more useful formats.

Download Video Download Helper | Price: Free

ColorfulTabs

ColorfulTabs enhances your Firefox tabs.
There's no two ways around it--Firefox's tabs are just plain dull. A bit like the Model T, they come in any color you want as long as they're the same shade of gray. If you'd like to dress up your tabs and make it easier to distinguish among them, you'll want this simple extension. You can either stick with the default colors, or choose your own color for each tab. You can even have the program remember the color for each URL you visit. You can control more than just the basic color of each tab. You can also have the colors fade, and you can even put a background color on each.

Will this add-on change your browsing life? No. Will it make it more visually pleasing? Without a doubt, and that's enough reason to give it a try.

Download ColorfulTabs | Price: Free

WOT (Web of Trust)

The WOT extension rates the safety of every site in search results.
It isn't news that the Web is full of innocent-seeming sites harboring bad intentions: Sites that host spyware or malware. Sites that spam you. Sites that scam you. Sites that invade your privacy, or that children shouldn't view.

Unfortunately, there's no simple way to tell the good sites from the bad. WOT, however, acts as just such a screener. It rates every site for trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy, and child safety, and shows you the results using simple, instantly interpretable colored icons (red for bad, green for good). When you do a search in Google or another Web site, you'll see the icons and know what you're in for if you visit. You can also visit the WOT rating for each site to see why it was given its rating.

It offers other protections as well. When you visit a site with a red rating, you first get a big warning on your screen. That way, you can either navigate away or click through at your own peril. And when you're on any Web site, click the WOT button in Firefox, and you'll be shown details about the site's rating as well.

Download WOT (Web of Trust) | Price: Free

Mini Map Sidebar

The Mini Map Sidebar lets you access mapping services wherever you are on the Web.
Google Maps and other mapping services are among the most useful sites on the Internet. But they do have one inconvenience: You have to visit them to get their information. Wouldn't it be nice if you could get mapping information no matter where you were on the Web?

The Mini Map Sidebar does just that. Open it as a Firefox sidebar, then drag and drop address names or links to it, and a map of them will open right in the sidebar. You have your choice of map services, including Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and others. You can then zoom in or out, get directions--in short, do pretty much anything you can do on the mapping site itself. In fact, you can do even more because Mini Map Sidebar includes some nice extras such as traffic information.

Download Mini Map Sidebar | Price: Free

All-in-One Sidebar

The All-in-One Sidebar lets you review your browsing and download history, provides info on the page you're visiting, and much more.
The Firefox sidebar is one of the browser's more useful tools, but most likely one of its least used. It serves plenty of purposes--you can browse your history and view your bookmarks there, for instance. And many add-ons, such as Sage-Too, use it as well.

This clever tool lets you quickly switch among all your sidebar panels, and gives you a great deal of information about your Firefox use. Want to see your entire download history in the sidebar? It can do that. It will also show you all of your add-ons with details about each, give you information on the current page you're visiting, and more.

If you don't regularly use the Firefox sidebar, give this add-on a try, and you might change your mind. And if you do use it regularly, this one will be a keeper.

Download All-in-One Sidebar | Price: Free

Last word: You can find most of the files in this story in this Editor's Downloads Collection.

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