10 Browser-Boosting Downloads

Firefox Add-Ins

One of the great benefits of Firefox is the enormous number of free add-ons available. You can find add-ons that do just about everything. Here are a few of our favorites.

CustomizeGoogle

How much time do you spend googling every day? Most likely, quite a bit. As good as Google is, though, it can be improved. The free CustomizeGoogle Firefox add-on lets you bend Google to your will. For one thing, it kills the text ads that appear on Google search results. It can also protect your privacy by blocking Google Analytics cookies, as well as by anonymizing your Google user ID and turning off "clicktracking."

In addition, you can use it to tell Google to link to the Wayback Machine, a Web site that archives old versions of Web pages. On both regular search results and image search results, it adds links to Ask.com, Wikipedia, Yahoo, and other resources. You'll also be able to customize Gmail, as well as to filter out search results from sites you don't want to see.

Any Google user--which means most folks--will want to take this download for a spin.

Download CustomizeGoogle | Price: Free

List.it

Plenty of people work almost full-time in their browsers. Sure, they use productivity applications, the operating system, and other kinds of software, but they spend most of their time on the Web. Does that describe you? If so, what happens when you want to jot down notes, particularly about information you find on the Web? You have to switch to a separate program (such as a sticky-notes app) or write the info down on an actual piece of paper--or else you simply forget what you wanted to note.

If you're a Firefox user, List.it offers a better way. This little Firefox add-on lets you jot down notes, thoughts, and ideas while you're still in the browser. To add a note, you simply click the note icon at the bottom-right corner of Firefox or press a hotkey. A side panel appears, and you can then type in a note and save it. You can also browse or search other notes you've typed.

If you use more than one computer and you have Firefox on each of them, you'll especially like this program, because it can synchronize your notes among those PCs. It's cross-platform as well, so if you're running Firefox in Linux or on a Mac, you can synchronize your notes with those machines too.

Download List.it | Price: Free

NoScript

The Internet is a dangerous place--and sometimes the best things about it are also the most vulnerable to attack. That's certainly true of many of the Internet's interactive technologies, such as JavaScript, Java, and Silverlight. Though they enable Web pages to offer sophisticated features, they can also let bad guys attack your PC.

By default, Firefox allows all of these interactive technologies to run when it encounters them on a Web page--it can't differentiate between the useful and the malicious. NoScript solves that problem neatly. It blocks JavaScript, Java, Silverlight, and various other technologies from running, unless you instruct it to let specific sites run them. That way, you can enjoy the features at sites that you know are safe, and turn them off everywhere else.

When you visit a site at which content is blocked, NoScript issues a notification, and you can then decide whether to let the content through, block it, allow it just once, or always permit it at that specific site. You can also fine-tune the permissions for scripts to a remarkable degree (something that only true techies will want to bother with). The freebie safeguards your PC in other ways as well, protecting against cross-site scripting attacks, for example. NoScript is an ideal tool for anyone concerned about online safety. Most people will simply set it and forget it, while the hard-core can fiddle with it to their heart's content.

Download NoScript | Price: Free

Tab Scope

Tabs in Firefox are missing one important feature: the ability to display thumbnails of their content when you mouse over them. If you frequently have many tabs open, finding the one you want to switch to can be difficult. That's where Tab Scope comes in. Simply hover your mouse over any tab, and you'll see a thumbnail that gives you an overview of that page.

You can interact with the thumbnail view, too. Buttons appear for back, forward, refresh, and to close the window; another button zooms in on the page so that you can see more detail. You can also click any link you see in the thumbnail and browse that way.

You get quite a bit of control over how the tabs look and behave, and you can change things such as the thumbnail size, the zoom level, where the thumbnail should appear, and how long the lag should be between the time you hover your mouse and the time the thumbnail appears.

Download Tab Scope | Price: Free

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