Since its launch to the public in 2004, Mozilla Firefox has steadily spread across the Internet, becoming the second-most-popular Web browser, behind only Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Although early versions of Firefox incorporated lots of then-innovative features such as tabbed browsing and a skinnable interface, it was and continues to be its extensions that set it apart -- and above -- other browsers.
These add-on programs written by third-party developers integrate functions into Firefox for doing everything from sending a tweet to radically altering the way online applications like Gmail look and function.
With thousands of extensions available in Mozilla's add-ons directory, though, discovering useful ones can be time-consuming. So we've explored the options and picked out 10 of the best for business users that add features for social networking, file exchange, task automation and more.
Install these extensions to transform your Firefox browser from a means of watching LOLcats videos into a huge part of your daily workflow. (You can still watch LOLcats videos too. We won't tell.)
Drop.io is a great service for sharing large files or groups of files with colleagues, clients and contractors over the Web. While the service offers several ways to create "drops" (online file repositories), the best approach for really large files is to use the online interface.
Drag & Drop.io makes this easier and quicker by allowing you to drag and drop single or multiple files and folders directly from an Explorer or Finder window or your desktop into Drop.io, rather than making you select each file individually. Clicking the ".io" icon in the lower-right corner of the Firefox window brings up a menu from which you can create new drops, bookmark frequently used drops, define a default drop, and assign a default password to use for new drops.
Drop.io is free for drops up to 100MB (you don't even need to register); premium accounts start at $19 a month for 10GB, or you can increase the size of individual drops for $10 per gigabyte per year.
What Facebook is to your social life, LinkedIn is to your business life: a way to connect with colleagues, industry experts and potential employees; keep up with the latest news in your industry; build your brand; and learn from the experience of your peers. The LinkedIn Companion adds several features to your browser to help you leverage the wealth of information on LinkedIn.
The extension adds a LinkedIn menu to Firefox, allowing you to quickly search companies and people. You can also add people to your network as you surf the Web, see recently updated profiles in your network and quickly share resources on your LinkedIn page. Another nice feature is the Web mail InfoBox, which adds a LinkedIn icon next to the "From" line in most major Web mail interfaces -- click it to see an overview of the sender that's drawn from her LinkedIn profile.
Got a business trip coming up? Gliider is a data storehouse for travelers that lets users collect all the information they need about a trip in a single place.
Click the Gliider icon next to Firefox's address bar to open up the Gliider interface within whatever page you're looking at. There, you can drag and drop any piece of information you have highlighted (Gliider calls them "clippings") -- flight information, restaurant reviews, hotel descriptions, anything relevant to your upcoming trip.
Once you've created a new destination, Gliider can search for deals on hotels nearby; click on a deal, and you can book a room instantly. Trips can be shared as well, so an assistant or travel partner can add information or see what you've added.