7 Hard-to-Find Internet Explorer 9 Add-Ons

Internet Explorer has never had a robust community of developers, but we searched far and wide and did find seven useful add-ons for IE9.

Internet Explorer 9

Microsoft's just-released IE9 offers many improvements, particularly in the area of security. On the other hand, none of the new features blew us away. One unfortunate thing about Internet Explorer is that it has never had the robust community of developers that you find with Firefox or Chrome. Nevertheless, we searched far and wide and did find seven useful add-ons for IE9.

No. 1: Xmarks

This is the first add-on we'd suggest plugging into IE 9, if you haven't already been using it. Xmarks keeps your list of bookmarks (or, as Microsoft prefers to call them: "favorites") automatically synchronized across the Web browsers you use on other computers -- and this service is cross-compatible. Xmarks also has versions for Firefox and Chrome, which means it can download and update your bookmarks on any of these three browsers, keeping the list among them identical.

Xmarks requires that you sign up for a user account, but the basic version of the service is free.

No. 2: Speckie

Speckie provides a feature that Microsoft's developers failed to put into IE 9, which has been in Chrome for a long while now and which users have come to find very helpful when composing their Webmails, reader comment rants, and Facebook status updates: an automatic spell-checker, which flags your writing for possible mistakes as you type. You can look up the spelling of a word by right-clicking on it to search for it on Wikipedia or Merriam Webster, and change the spell-check dictionary to another language within this right-click context menu, too.

No. 3: ZoomInto

ZoomInto enables you to zoom in on almost any image on a Web page. This add-on can be handy if you want to download a large picture displayed on a page but want to crop it first. When you mouse-over an image, a magnifying glass icon appears on the upper-left of it. Click this icon (or you can also right-click on the image in question, and choose "ZoomInto" from the context menu) and a new smaller browser window pops open showing you the image and tools to crop it or magnify it. You can save the altered image to your local hard drive, or print or e-mail it to someone.

No. 4: Mouse Gestures

This add-on gives IE 9 a mouse-gesture user interface, which lets you use the mouse (or touchpad) to "draw" shapes or perform other motions with it to control functions of the Web browser. For example, you activate mouse-gesture control (by clicking on the right mouse button) and move the mouse in a circular motion to make the Web browser load up your designated start page. Mouse Gestures comes with a default set of pre-programmed gestures that control various aspects of IE 9, and you can customize these or program your own.

No. 5: WOT

WOT (for Web of Trust) is a service where a community of users rate Web sites, and the ratings (separated into the categories "trustworthiness," "vendor reliability," "privacy" and "child safety") for the current site you are visiting are readily accessed by clicking the WOT icon. The WOT add-on will also alert you if you click a link to a site that a majority of the community has deemed as possibly unsafe, yet still letting you pass through to it if you are willing to take the chance.

No. 6: Enterra Download Manager

IE 9's download manager is much better than IE 8's, but you can still install a better one. There are several alternative download managers for IE, but we have come to like Enterra's. Its download status window is set along the bottom of the IE browser page, listing the URL from where a file is downloading, its file name, size, download progress, elapsed time, time remaining, download speed -- in other words, all the stats to keep those of us who love to watch such details (and all of them neatly laid out) while we wait for our downloads to complete. Enterra Download Manager also lets you download from FTP servers.

No. 7: Advanced IE History Bar

This really handy add-on gives you a side panel set to the left side of the IE 9 browser window which lists the history of sites you've visited. You can sort the list by URL, title, date visited and number of times you've viewed the link. There's also a search box to help you find that specific link to the page you regret not having bookmarked.

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