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Firefox Essentials: 10 Must-Have Extensions

There are some Firefox extensions that are good -- and some that are indispensable. Our expert tells why these are the add-ons you can't live without.

Editor's Note: This is the first installment of our "Firefox Essentials" series. Be sure not to miss the subsequent stories on understanding and managing your profiles and troubleshooting Firefox.

You probably know what Firefox extensions are and how they work. Here's the quick-and-dirty definition, from the Fox's mouth:

Extensions are small add-ons that add new functionality to Firefox. They can add anything from a toolbar button to a completely new feature. They allow the application to be customized to fit the personal needs of each user if they need additional features, while keeping Firefox small to download.

Firefox: Essential Extensions

•  Introduction

•  No More Ads

•  Flash Control Plus Three Tiny

•  Better Tabs, Downloads, And IE

•  Speed And Secrecy

•  Bonus: Search Plug-Ins

•  Quick-Click Chart

•  Image Gallery

The last time I checked, more than 970 extensions were available for download through Mozilla's official online source for All Things Firefox, also known as "AMO" to frequent visitors and lazy writers.

Click around AMO for a few minutes, and you'll get an idea of just how much creativity and hard work Mozilla has inspired among Firefox users. I won't bore you here with any lectures on the benefits of open-source software -- it's enough to know that you're looking at one of them, or rather hundreds of them, right on that site.

Picking your first extensions is a tough job; there are people who wandered into AMO's digital labyrinth months ago, and they're still in there. If you find it tough to eat just one potato chip, there's a good chance that trying to install just one extension will make your head explode.

Spare your sanity (and the curtains): Start with these key Firefox extensions that belong on every user's desktop. Even if you decide for some reason to run without them, knowing about these extensions is a matter of basic Firefox literacy -- and disabling or uninstalling them takes a matter of seconds.

(Hint: If you're an impatient sort, you can jump directly to our Quick-Click Chart to download without the details.)

Want More?

Believe it or not, this article barely scratches the surface of Mozilla's add-on architecture for Firefox. For an in-depth look at the latest, coolest, and lamest extensions, check out Scot Finnie's ongoing coverage of the Best Firefox Extensions And Customizing Tips. You'll also find links to useful Firefox-related sites and timely how-to content -- and best of all, Scot's site never dispenses advice older than the magazines in your dentist's waiting room.

For a basic guide to installing Firefox extensions, don't waste your time wandering the Web -- look no further than the browser's own Help menu, under "Customization: Extensions" in the Contents list. If things begin to get weird (they probably won't), Scot's brief tutorial on How To Install Firefox Extensions will get you back on the right path.

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