[How to] Optimize Firefox with Addons and Extensions
In my previous post about Firefox, I wrote about useful Firefox addons for web-developers. Considering the fact that previously written post dealt with a specific set of users, I decided upon letting everyone know how useful and flexible this browser can be. Before I start lets have a look at some of its drawbacks.
- Memory leaks and sluggish start:
The biggest drawback for Firefox running on Windows platform is memory leaks and the ages it takes to start. Though Mozilla have done a lot to enhance it in past, it still is its biggest woe.
- Browsing Space:
Browsing on Firefox, specially on a net-book or a laptop is troublesome, as it has much less space to view the page content as compared to Chrome or Opera.
Firefox comes with separate search and address bars which makes it cluttered and look terrible. The reason that makes Chrome’s look supersede Firefox is its clean simple interface.
- Mouse Gestures:
Though most people don’t use mouse gestures, still they come as a package as in case of Opera. Opera purists have always given it to be a major reason for choosing Opera over Firefox.
- Ability to run UserScripts:
Both Opera and Chrome inherently support UserScripts and they can be installed without any hassle in them. Firefox lacks this major ability in its default build.
- Browser Information sync:
The ability to synchronize bookmarks and user-information has been a part of Opera (Opera Links) for quite some time, Chome has also added this feature some time back. Even though the latest beta builds of Firefox have this feature, it still isn’t available for stable builds.
Now, lets start with how we can solve most of the above mentioned drawbacks and further enhance browsing experience using Firefox addons or extensions.
- Memory Fox:
Firefox has much to take care when it comes to Memory usage. Usually while running Firefox on my system, I used to get an average memory usage as 400 mb. But after installing this addon the usage lowered down to as low as 90-100 mb.
Before you install this addon, I would suggest you to carefully note which processor or which operating system you are using. This addon has mixed response among users, but personally it worked like a charm for me. Also note that this addon is only for Windows platform.
This extension should take care of the memory issue of Firefox on Windows Platform.
- Flex Bar & Hide Captions:
My second challenge was to take care of the browsing space that was hindered due to a separate navigation bar, title bar, bookmarks bar and a status bar. I don’t really need the navigation bar much often and unless I wanted to type some specific address or refresh a page, navigation was of no use to me. Title bar was also much of a bloat. So I decided to get rid of them.
Flex Bar and Hide Captions just did what i wanted. Flex bar when installed, gives an option of putting these navigation, status or any other toolbar to auto-hide or completely remove. I put my address bar and status bar to auto-hide and rest i disabled. For back, forward home and refresh, there are buttons that show up on tab-bar. Next step was to remove title-bar, which was done using Hide Captions addon. After these tweaks, my browser was much neat and had ample space for me to browse.
Next thing on my mind was to remove the bloat on the address bar. Why to have two separate boxes for typing address and search. This only clutters the interface. The alternative was to use Omnibar Firefox addon, which does nothing but to remove the search box and give users choices to use various search engine using key-words, from the address bar.
FireGestures should take care of the Mouse Gesture problem. One can use this addon to do certain task on a specific mouse gesture and thus making the task of browsing much easier.
For instance, I use mouse gesture the most to move the pages back and forward. Just by holding right click down and dragging left and right makes the pages go back and forward.
- Greasemonkey & Stylish:
Lastpass has been my password manager for quite some time now, and I found no problem in managing my things and using it. It provides password syncing and auto-form fill-up. Also one can sync encrypted notes across browsers and computers.
- Xmarks or Google Bookmarks:
Finally we are left with the inability to synchronize bookmarks. One way to solve this is to use Google Bookmarks. Gmarks is an addon that adds a menu-item which synchronizes itself with Google Bookmarks. Another thing that can be done is to use Xmarks. It synchronizes the bookmark items across browsers and computers.
By using above mentioned addons we would be able to remove most of the drawbacks that Firefox has. Lets now divulge further and find out if there is anything more to add to that list.
Add Block Plus:
This addon blocks the unwanted content of a page. The advertisements can often be a trouble while browsing and it can worsen the browsing experience.
There are plenty of userscripts that provide the same feature as in case of this addon, but they are specific to site. This addon maintains a list of sites where they are applicable and automatically displays the next page of either the search result or any forum topic or anywhere the script is available in its database.
This addon disables the auto loading of flash content. Flash can be enabled by clicking on them and thus making it very useful when you want to save some bandwidth or you have slow connection.
Read it later:
Often while browsing you would want to save some pages to read it later. So as the name suggests it does the same by saving the page’s url and whenever you wish you can open and read it.
Tab Mix Plus:
Tab Mix Plus provides extensive tab management and provides you with lots of features like organizing the look and feel of tabs, how to open and close tab and where to do that etc.
Even this extensive list of addons is nowhere near full scale customization and personalization of Firefox. You can make Firefox look and feel as you want to. You can make this browser perform as you want to. Just think of a feature and look for it in Firefox addon gallery. You will be amazed by how much you can do.