Upgrade your web-based workflow
What the Internet giveth with her ability to help us get real work done, she taketh away with an endless procession of cat videos that demand our attention.
Distraction is always a click away on the web, but productivity nuts know not to fall prey to the traps. Largely that’s due to a bevy of tech tools that can help keep you on task, while boosting the capabilities of the web browser through some clever engineering. If you’re part of the Firefox faithful, check out these 10 add-ons that can turbo-charge your productivity.
Getting a side-by-side look at multiple web pages usually means having to carefully arrange multiple browser windows in a haphazardly overlapping pattern on your desktop. Tile View fixes that with one click. Once installed, you can simply tap the Tile View icon to get a checkerboard multi-window view of all your open tabs. You can resize tiles to fit your needs or switch to different preset views that focus on just two, three, or four tabs at a time. Tile Tabs does about the same thing, but Tile View is far simpler to work with.
Calendar systems like Outlook are fantastic, but they require you to have the program up and running for your alerts to pop up. ReminderFox incorporates a simple calendar/to-do list/reminder system directly in your web browser. Alerts arrive in your browser window where you can’t ignore them even if you’re sucked in to a Reddit comment thread. Import your Google Calendar file into the tool for even more utility.
Just can’t stop yourself from obsessively-compulsively checking Facebook or Twitter every 10 minutes? LeechBlock is here to help save you from yourself, allowing you to selectively block whatever vices haunt you, letting you specify specific domains to nix, days and times when sites will be blocked, and whether you can manually override the webpage rejection. It’s a powerful tool to keep you focused on the task at hand, but it’s still fairly easy to master.
The Fox, Only Better
This plug-in doesn’t do anything new. Rather, it streamlines the way the Firefox interface looks and simplifies the way it works. The main impact is a radical slimming down of the toolbars and menus, squishing them all into a single bar along the top of the screen. This maximizes the amount of real estate devoted to actual content while keeping usability high. The Fox, Only Better also adds “Sky Lights,” information at-a-glance about the site you’re using such as whether any content is blocked or whether Flash is in use on the page.
Tab Mix Plus
Ever accidentally close the wrong tab and find that getting it back involves a convoluted hunt through your browser history? Tab Mix Plus fixes that issue by letting you recover closed tabs and windows. zit piles on additional features like a tab duplicator and the ability to specify what loads when you open a new tab (blank page, homepage, current page, etc.) and what order new tabs are opened in. Cosmetics like individual progress bars for each tab that’s loading make for clever extras.
Web screenshots get a big upgrade with this add-on. Screengrab lets you save an entire webpage (not just the visible portion) as an image. Just right-click the page and select the ScreenGrab! menu. Here you’ll be given options to save the full page, a portion, or just a single frame. You can also choose to copy any of the above so you can paste the photo directly into another application. It couldn’t be easier, but make sure you get the version (linked above) called “Screengrab (fix version).”
Sometimes a search result or hyperlink just looks too good to be true. Should you take the chance and click? Or shy away out of fear you’ll be inundated with pop-ups and phishing attempts?
Interclue offers a sneak preview of the page hiding behind any link you encounter. Just hover over a link, then click the “linkclue” icon that appears. A pop-up digesting the text and image contents of that link promptly appears, along with handy metadata about how many words and links are on the page.
One of the single most useful add-ons ever made for Firefox is Lazarus, a data recovery tool that any web regular will likely come to rely on.
Lazarus works because Firefox is so prone to crashes—usually at an inopportune time, when you’re typing a long treatise into a web form or content management system like WordPress. Lazarus keeps a running backup of everything you type, so when your browser abruptly quits, you can simply restart Firefox and pick up where you left off.
Mind the Time
Similar to LeechBlock, Mind the Time is an add-on that aims to dissuade you from wasting time on useless websites. Rather than explicitly blocking sites, it does the job by keeping a rigorous accounting of how many minutes you spend on each website on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, shaming you into staying away. Didn’t think it was possible to spend a full month of your life on Facebook? Think again. Then stop.
Highlighting junkies whose fingertips are permanently stained neon yellow can finally rejoice! Wired-Marker is the highlighter for the Internet you never knew you could have. While using it is more than a bit clunky (you don’t select a highlighter and then mark up text; you select the text you want to highlight then drag it to the color of your choice), it’s still a neat way to mark up text online—and have your highlights persist whenever you return to the page in the future.