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Top 10 Greasemonkey User Scripts, 2009 Edition

The Greasemonkey extension is a marvel for customising your Firefox for a better browsing experience. But which Greasemonkey scripts really deserve your consideration? Check out our Top 10 and find out.

This list is a bit Google-heavy, but that’s to be expected—the search giant crafts all its web sites in the same kind of JavaScript that Greasemonkey works with, so geeks have the power to make Gmail, Google search, and other webapps much more useful and powerful.

All of these scripts run best on Firefox with Greasemonkey installed. (If you’re using Firefox and haven’t already installed Greasemonkey, you’ll need to do that before trying out the scripts below.) Some of them, however, can be loaded into other browsers, like Google Chrome’s dev channel version, Safari with Greasekit, natively with Opera’s user JavaScript tools, or apps like Trixie for Internet Explorer (which we haven’t tested with IE 8, so apologies for any confusion).

On with the user scripts!

10. Google Inline MP3 Player

Self-promotion alert! Adam wrote this one, but it’s not like it’s a big money-maker for him (there’s no money involved at all). All the Google Inline MP3 Player does is add a [Play]link next to any linked MP3 file you come across on the web, making it both easy to find them and super-easy to play them without having to wait for your browser plug-in, VLC, Windows Media Player, or whatever you’ve got on your system to load. It quickly inserts Google’s/Gmail’s player onto the page with the MP3 loaded for streaming, and you can hide the player again by clicking, well, [Hide Player] . Nice, simple, and works.

9. A Bit Better RTM

There are, to be sure, a whole lot of Greasemonkey scripts that tweak the AJAX-y interface of one of our favourite to-do managers, Remember the Milk. This one, though, is the most elegant and useful if you’re an RTM fan. It moves your lists to the left, where they’re more visible and accessible, and lets you hide lists you don’t normally examine (like, say, someday/maybe or shopping lists). It also adds more keyboard shortcuts that make RTM easy to get around, which is kind of a guaranteed fan-maker ’round these parts. All in all, a very helpful script.

8. Twitter Search Results

Apart from everything else you’ve heard about it, Twitter is a powerful, real-time search engine. With the Twitter Search Results user script installed, the top of your Google search results will also include the same results for that term you’d get from search.twitter.com, so you can see what’s being discussed before you take a look at what’s already been written.

7. Google Reader Absolutely Compact

If you’re a Google Reader user, chances are you value speed and reading space over fancy light-blue menus and drop-down widgets. This Greasemonkey script/Stylish style, crafted by Lifehacker reader Dustin Luck, isn’t for everyone, but it does compact as much information onto the Reader page as is seemingly possible (before jumping over to terminal-style, text-only reading). Other Greasemonkey coders have mined a similar vein, releasing the eye-catching Helvetireader and the Google Reader for Wider Screens tweaks.

6. Google Docs Download

For whatever reason, you can’t just select a bunch of Google Docs files and download them in your chosen format. That makes a theoretically convenient web-based work space much less convenient. Google Docs Download steps into the void, adding a right-hand menu that, after searching out and/or selecting the files you need, offers a handy, Down-Them-All-friendly download link for all the formats Google Docs supports.

5. TinyURL Decoder

They make long URLs email friendly and save Twitter users from overflowing their 140-character limit, but shortened links from services like TinyURL, bit.ly, and many, many others can be a pain to click, wait, and then be disappointed by. This script lets you see what’s behind http://tinyurl.com/abc123, http://bit.ly/lhrulez, and all the others (those were, by the way, random typing, not links we created). We’ve covered Firefox extensions and bookmarklets that do the same, but they require clicks or mouse-overs to activate; TinyURL Decoder clarifies the entire web for you automatically.

4. Gmail Unread Message Count in Favicon

A great little script that works in a tiny little space. Gmail Unread Message Count in Favicon does, well, what you might presume it does, but does it really well: It adds a number to the standard Gmail Favicon that gets brighter as more unread messages pile up in Gmail. It maxes out at “99+”, turns orange when you have a chat message, and changes to blue for the Google Apps users out there. Gmail offers a title bar tweak that puts just the number of unread messages in the front of your Gmail tab/window, but this little icon is far more intuitive and powerful.

3. Invisibility Cloak

Self-Promotion Alert Pt. 2: We made this one as well. It doesn’t alter how web pages display and operate; instead it alters how you operate your web pages. If you’re prone to more-frequent-than-necessary trips over to Twitter, Facebook, Fark, or any other time-sucking sites, just load them into Invisibility Cloak, and you’ll never see them before you hit that magic oh-well-work’s-almost-over-anyways time—3pm on weekdays, by default, but you can set any time that applies to your work flow.

2. Textarea Resize

Some web sites give you just one line of space to type out a lot of information, like an address, article comment, or other mini-post. Textarea Resize pushes on the downward edge of any typing area and makes it one line bigger whenever you hit Ctrl+Enter, and knocks it back down with a Ctrl+Shift+Enter. Take that, web sign-up forms!

1. Folders4Gmail

Move from traditional email clients to Gmail’s web interface, and the first thing you’ll likely ask is, “Where are the folders?” Folders4Gmail eases the transition and makes sense of Gmail’s clever, unique, but sometimes hard-to-grok labels. Create a folder called, for example, “Sports.” Next, create a folder named “SportsSoccer.” “Soccer” shows up nested under “Sports,” and you can get as multi-level as you’d like, assuming you’ve got this neat little script installed to show them all as drop-down, folder-like containers.

So ends another compilation of 10 tweaks we hope you’ll find useful in your day-to-day browsing. By all means, though, tell us the scripts you can’t believe we left off, and the better versions of the scripts we didn’t, in the comments.


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