The best Internet Explorer add-ins

No need to be jealous of Firefox's plug-ins, because you can get cool add-ins for IE, too

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Probably more than you'd like, or more than you even know. Here's a simple solution -- get ieSpell. It's a simple-to-use spell checker that integrates directly into Internet Explorer.

It works just like the spell checker in a word processing program and lets you add your own words to the dictionary. Also, ieSpell works anywhere you type in text, including forms, blogs, Web-based e-mail and more.

In addition to checking your spelling, it also will look up definitions in Merriam-Webster online or link you to Wikipedia. You can even integrate the spell checker with your Microsoft Office spell checker so that they share the same custom dictionary.

Leech Video

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Right-click the link at the bottom of the pop-up, and you'll be able to download the video you're watching.

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Frustrated that you can't download and save videos from video-sharing sites such as YouTube, or from other sites such as CNN? Then get this simple add-in. Leech Video installs as a button on your tool bar. Play a video, click the button, and a pop-up appears (shown nearby). Right-click the link toward the bottom of the pop-up, choose Save Video and you'll be able to download and save the video. Note that you'll have to tell Internet Explorer to allow pop-ups or Leech Video won't work.

StumbleUpon

Find new Web sites with StumbleUpon.

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This add-on combines two of the Internet's most popular activities -- finding new Web sites and connecting and sharing with others. Install the tool bar and tell it what topics you're interested in, and when you click on the Stumble button, you'll be sent to a Web site that matches your interests. Every time you click the button, you'll be sent to another site related to your interests. For each site you visit, you can click a button saying whether you like or dislike it, and StumbleUpon learns from that and fine-tunes the sites to which it sends you. In addition, as you surf the Web on your own, click a button saying whether you like or dislike the site you're visiting on your own, and StumbleUpon learns from that as well.

You can also recommend sites you visit to others, connect with those who have similar interests to you and visit Web sites others have recommended. All in all, this is one of those add-ins that you'll either hate or love. If you like social networking sites and discovering new sites in a leisurely fashion, you'll enjoy it. If not, you won't see its point.

del.icio.us

Bookmarking a page with del.icio.us.

You've probably heard of the del.icio.us site -- though you may not have a clue what it's about. Like StumbleUpon, it's a hybrid that combines Web surfing with social networking. At its most basic level, it lets you bookmark sites and apply tags to them, so that they're later easier to find by searching or browsing through keywords. The bookmarks and keywords are stored online, rather than in Internet Explorer, so you can access them from any computer.

You can also share bookmarks with friends, family and co-workers and see bookmarks they share as well. And you can also see what sites have been bookmarked most frequently by other visitors to the site, as a way to find new and interesting sites. In addition, you can browse through sites that have been bookmarked based on tags -- for example, see the most popular sites tagged with the words Internet, Java or politics.

McAfee SiteAdvisor

McAfee SiteAdvisor warns you when you're visiting a site that may distribute spyware.

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If you're looking for an all-in-one security add-in for Internet Explorer, this is the one to get. It's particularly useful if you want to make sure you don't visit potentially dangerous Web sites or sites that may host spyware.

Whenever you visit a site, the SiteAdvisor button turns green (for safe), red (for dangerous) or yellow (possibly dangerous). Click the button for details about the site's rating. In addition, when you do a search on a site such as Google, a red, green or yellow button appears next to each individual result. The add-in does more as well, including a warning about potential phishing sites.

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor at Computerworld.com, and the author of more than 35 books, including How the Internet Works.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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