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Firefox 3 was released just this June, and many Firefox fans believe the new version is clearly the best browser you can get. You can make it even better with free add-ons, which integrate directly into the browser and offer loads of useful new features.
Want to increase your security and privacy, synchronize bookmarks among multiple PCs, dress up Firefox tabs, juice up Google, and more? Then I've got the add-ons you need. These 15 great downloads make the world's best browser even better--and, like Firefox itself, they're free.
Note: Most of the files in this story can be found in this Editor's Downloads Collection.
Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer
If you use Firefox on more than one PC, you most likely spend a lot of time trying to keep their bookmarks in synch, or else you've simply given up the attempt. Otherwise, every time you add, delete, or edit bookmarks on one PC, you have to remember to make the same changes on the others. Not a pretty picture.
The Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer solves the problem. Install this tool on each of your PCs, and then, with a click or two, you can synchronize any changes. In fact, you don't even need to click because you can set the program to synchronize automatically.
The utility offers other benefits as well. Your bookmarks are automatically backed up to a server, so if for some reason you lose them on your PCs, you can always restore them. You can also log into the Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer Web site and edit your bookmarks directly there. In addition, if you're using someone else's PC, you can use your bookmarks straight from the Foxmarks server.
Download Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer | Price: Free
If you often log into Web sites and forget or lose your password, Secure Login will be a great time-saver. It directly integrates with Firefox's password manager, and will log you into any Web site without you having to remember or look up the password. When you're on a page that requires a login, simply click the icon. Better yet, use a hot-key combination to log in faster.
Download Secure Login | Price: Free
Registering with a Web site often means making a deal with the devil. You give the site information such as your name, e-mail address, and potentially more private data such as your mailing address, phone number, and age. But what happens with that information? You may be inundated by spam, your name may be sold to mailing lists and advertisers, and possibly worse. But for many Web sites, if you don't register, you can't log in and use the site.
This add-on solves the problem. Go to a Web site, right-click in the user name or password field, and select BugMeNot. A valid user name and password will then be entered into the form. You can then use the site without having to register. The add-on works in concert with the BugMeNot Web site, which has many user names and passwords for multiple sites.
Download BugMeNot | Price: Free
Better Gmail 2
From my point of view, Gmail has one primary drawback--it gives you little that you can customize. Basically, what Google gives you is what you get and nothing more. This add-on changes that. It lets you customize Gmail in a variety of ways including skinning it to change its colors and appearance, customizing the sidebar (for example, hiding the spam count), adding HTML signatures automatically to your mail, and more.
Download Better Gmail 2 | Price: Free
Does it seem as if the Internet has become the equivalent of a digital Las Vegas with flashing neon ads wherever you look? Banner ads, ads that are placed willy-nilly, videos that start without your permission--these are just some of the things can distract you and make pages load more slowly.
The answer? Adblock Plus. This add-on blocks just about any ad, but still lets you view the content you want. It claims to eliminate 99 percent of ads on the Web, and that just might be true. When you first start the program, you have your choice of filters to use. If you're the extremely adventurous type, you can try to build your own, but you'll be much better off picking one that already exists. If you browse primarily English-language sites, just choose the EasyList (USA) option. If a banner somehow manages to make it through, right-click it, select Adblock from the context menu, and you won't see it again.
Download Adblock Plus | Price: Free