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1/25/2006
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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.

Fasterfox
Since its earliest days, Firefox has included the ability to tweak its networking settings, including some that are either inactive or set below their maximum capacity, depending on the version. Changing some of these settings, in the right combinations, can make Firefox noticeably faster at rendering pages.

Fasterfox allows you, with one click, to make all of the changes required to boost page rendering speed -- in relative terms, from slowest (the default settings) to the fastest possible results.



Speed up your surfing (but not too much) with Fasterfox.
Click image to enlarge and to launch image gallery.

Why not simply peg these settings at "warp speed" and forget about them? Because some of them, such as prefetching, can sometimes overload Web servers, saturate a site's bandwidth, and turn a site admin into someone you don't want to meet in a dark alley. Although very few sites will try to ban or even scold users with over-aggressive Fasterfox settings, use your power wisely -- pick one of the more "polite" middle settings, and spend the karma you save on a nice parking spot.

Download Fasterfox



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


PasswordMaker
The Firefox password manager is acceptable, but you can do better -- thanks to an extension based on some high-powered applied mathematics. The fact that PasswordMaker delivers this cryptographic complexity in a package even a head-injured monkey could use just makes it even more impressive.

What does that mean to you? In the words of its developers, PasswordMaker "creates unique, secure passwords that are very easy for you to retrieve but no one else. Nothing is stored anywhere, anytime, so there's nothing to be hacked, lost, or stolen." Once you've set up a master password with this extension, it performs a mathematical operation using your master password and the URL of the site being managed, which in turn generates your unique password for that particular site.

Better yet, you can use PasswordMaker to log into sites anywhere, on any browser, courtesy of an online version of the product. All you need is your master password.



PasswordMaker uses your master password and the URL of the site you're visiting to create a unique password for that site.
Click image to enlarge and to launch image gallery.

If you want to know more about the extension and the science behind it -- and you really should, it's your passwords we're talking about here -- the developers do a great job explaining how it all works. As far as I'm concerned, either you're using this extension to manage your Firefox passwords, or you're cruisin' for a bruisin'.

Download PasswordMaker

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