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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.

Tab Mix Plus
Firefox has spawned a whole category of extensions devoted to tweaking one of the browser's most popular and practical features: tabbed browsing. Yet this cornucopia hides more than its share of bad apples: Some tab-management extensions are notorious for breaking themselves, other extensions, and Firefox itself if you even look at them the wrong way.


Firefox: Essential Extensions


•  Introduction

•  No More Ads

•  Flash Control Plus Three Tiny
   Gotta-Haves

•  Better Tabs, Downloads, And IE

•  Speed And Secrecy

•  Bonus: Search Plug-Ins

•  Quick-Click Chart

•  Image Gallery


Tab Mix Plus sounds like a brand of cat food -- but believe me, your cat should have it this good. This is the first Firefox tab-management tool that really delivers the goods, minus any drama, rude surprises, or smoking craters where your profile folder used to sit.

My favorite feature, the ability to undo a tab you accidentally closed, even restores your tabs following a browser crash. This is a double bonus, since it provides an alternative to the migraine-inducing Session Saver extension -- a time-wasting pain in the butt I wouldn't recommend to anyone whom I wouldn't also encourage to try the salmon mousse.



Tab Mix Plus' tab-restore feature beats Session Saver hands-down.
Click image to enlarge and to launch image gallery.

Download Tab Mix Plus


Download Manager Tweak
Some extensions are so well-built, practical, and just plain smart that it's a pity they aren't built into Firefox itself. This is one of them: With Download Manager Tweak you can choose where the Download Manager opens, change the buttons that appear within it, and make other surprisingly handy changes. It's not flashy and certainly not complicated, but it may very well be the quintessential Firefox extension anyway.



Download Manager Tweak turns one of Firefox's least interesting features into a surprisingly useful and practical tool.
Click image to enlarge and launch image gallery.

Download Download Manager Tweak


IE View Lite
Sites that don't display properly on Firefox are getting scarce these days, and the best way to persuade the holdouts is to take your business elsewhere. But when you really need to see a site that requires Internet Explorer, IE View Lite provides convenient, one-click access to IE for a selected or the current page.

There is, of course, also the original IE View, and there's also a new IE Tab extension that does the same thing as a tab within Firefox itself. Both of these extensions use C++ code to do their thing, which means they use DLLs -- which means they're larger than the JavaScript-based IE View Lite and more susceptible to changes not only in Firefox but in Windows itself. Here, too, I think it's better to start small and then move up later, if necessary.

Also, remember: A site that is harmless to Firefox could spring some nasty surprises when Internet Explorer comes calling. Be sure your IE software is up to date, keep its security options properly configured, and use good judgment before sending your second-string browser into the game.

Download IE View Lite

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