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20 must-have Firefox extensions

By Peter Smith
March 7, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Download Statusbar
You're probably familiar with that sometimes-pesky Downloads window that pops up whenever you download a file in Firefox. Download Statusbar suppresses that window from popping up, and instead provides you the same information in the status bar at the bottom of the browser window. (You can still manually open the Downloads window if you find you need it.)

You can roll your mouse over the filename and get a pop-up tool tip with some extra information about your download, too (where it's being download from, and where it's being saved to, the speed of the download, percentage complete and so on).

Get download information in a status bar pop-up. 
Get download information in a status bar pop-up.

An additional feature, still in beta, is to automatically run your virus scanner against downloaded files.

Pretty simple, but it helps to "clean up" the browsing experience. By the way, this is from the same developer as Download Sort, below.

Version reviewed: 0.9.4.5.1
addons.mozilla.org/firefox/26


Download Sort
If you find yourself doing a lot of "Save Link As" or "Save Image As" downloading, then Download Sort will be quite a timesaver. It allows you to file downloads by extension, or by a keyword or regular expression in the URL.

Here's how it works. After installing the extension, you set up filters. As an example, you might want any file with the extension .jpg to go into a Pictures folder and anything ending in .zip to go into an Archives folder on your drive.

Download Sort settings. 
Download Sort settings. (Click image to see larger view)

Now when you right-click on a .jpg image and choose Save Image As, the image immediately downloads into your Pictures folder without any prompting. Right-click on a link to a .zip file and choose Save Link As, and again, the file goes right into your Archives folder. You can optionally have the extension create subdirectories according to date, domain and a few other criteria.


20 must-have extensions


The big drawback here is that Download Sort doesn't intercept normal left-click downloads. It'd be great to see the developer add this capability.

Version reviewed: 2.5.7
addons.mozilla.org/firefox/25


Nuke Anything Enhanced
If you find yourself printing a lot of Web pages, this extension will help you save on ink. Once installed, it adds a "Remove this object" option to the right-click context menu. Place your mouse over information you don't need printed (menu bars, big graphical logos and so on) and use "Remove this object" to zap them temporarily. Clean up the page, then print just what you need.

A Mozilla Add-ons page, before and after removing the title with the Nuke Anything Enhanced extension. 
A Mozilla Add-ons page, before and after removing the title image with the Nuke Anything Enhanced extension.

It can be a little fussy, since you don't know exactly what you're hovering over. Images are pretty straightforward, but menus and other page parts can take some trial and error. There's an "Undo Last Remove" option in case you accidentally zap something you need. Or you can just reload the page to restore it to its original state.

One limitation is that you can't easily nuke Flash content, since when you right-click on Flash, you get its context menu, not Firefox's. Sometimes you can find the container tag that holds the Flash, but it can take some trial and error.

Version reviewed: 0.54
addons.mozilla.org/firefox/951


Information gatherers

Forecastfox
Forecastfox puts an up-to-date weather forecast in Firefox's status bar. Just click one of its icons to see the full weather report at AccuWeather.com.

A wide range of options gives you control over how much, or how little, information you want, including a radar image button, severe weather warnings and extended forecasts of up to eight days. You can set up profiles, each with its own set of options. Use these to get the weather in different zip codes if you're a traveler, or create profiles with lots of data for turbulent winter conditions and minimal data for warm, sunny summer days.

Forecastfox brings the weather to your status bar. 
Forecastfox brings the weather to your status bar.

The only downside here is that, as with all extensions that rely on data from external Web sites, if the AccuWeather.com site isn't responding, you won't get any weather updates.

Version reviewed: 0.9.3.1
addons.mozilla.org/firefox/398


 Helpful information from Answers.com. 
Helpful information from Answers.com. (Click image to see larger view)
Answers
This one's simple: Just hold down the Alt key (Option key on a Mac) and click on a word, and a window will pop up with information about that word from Answers.com. (You can have the results displayed in a full window if you'd rather.) There's a More button in the pop-up that'll open a new tab with the full Answers.com results page.

For phrases, you still have to highlight, right-click and choose "Look up on Answers.com" to get results in a new tab.

Version reviewed: 2.2.22
addons.mozilla.org/firefox/735





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