Love it or hate it, Facebook has been rolling out a number of new features and changes that have some excited and others irritated enough to complain, loudly. As with any site or service, when changes are made, the most enterprising members of the community build tools to tweak it. This week we're going to look at five tools to customise your Facebook experience.
Beautify Facebook is a Chrome extension that lets you tweak and change the way Facebook appears in your browser. The add-on lets you add a custom background image to Facebook to hide the traditional white background, rounds off the corners of chat boxes and sidebars, adds emoticons to Facebook chat, and provides transparency settings so you can tweak the look of your news feed or the sidebars to fade into the background.
Better Facebook is a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, and a script that can be used with Greasemonkey. It adds tabbed news feeds for apps and status updates, lets you customise your Facebook news feed with themes and background images, hide posts and activity you've already read or liked, highlight new comments, customise the left-hand sidebar and more. The extension also has some of the most robust filtering options we've seen in any social tool. It's completely free, and probably the most richly featured tool in our roundup. It doesn't hurt that Lifehacker reader Matt Kruse is the developer, and we've mentioned the extension before.
FFixer is a user script, meaning you can use it on any browser that supports them (Opera, Chrome and Firefox with Greasemonkey.) The extension focuses largely on the layout and appearance of Facebook, allowing you to enlarge profile pictures and photos in your feed, disable Facebook's photo lightbox, load entire photo albums at once instead of forcing you to click next at the bottom of the page, and more. The script also lets you add custom CSS to change the page layout, and gives you keyboard shortcuts to navigate the page and Facebook's features. FFixer also lets you tweak what appears on your news feed, and lets you create "bookmarks" in the bar at the top of the screen so you can jump right to apps or pages you frequent.
Previously mentioned Minimalist Facebook is a Chrome Extension and userscript that tidies up Facebook's layout and interface to remove elements — like ads, suggested friends, events, and the new ticker — that you don't want to see. The extension also allows you to hide links to Facebook features you may not use, hide chat entirely, and switch to a full-width layout. Minimalist Facebook also lets you display true timestamps, filter out page, poll or questions from your news feed, hide Facebook's new "Top Stories" and more.
Available as a user script or an extension for Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera, F.B. Purity is another tool we've discussed before. While some of the other extensions focus on the layout and appearance of Facebook, F.B. Purity focuses more on your news feed. It can, if you toggle it, hide ads, suggested friends, the friend finder, and other right-sidebar elements, but its real power is in filtering your feed. You can hide almost anything easily: questions, polls, announcements when someone Likes a new page or group, starts a new game you don't have blocked yet, or made new friends. It also allows you to create text filters, so certain topics, words, or people are never seen in your news feed.
Honorable mentions this week go out to virtually every other social network available: a number of you said that the best fix for Facebook was actually Google+ or Twitter, and that you steer clear of it entirely. We can definitely respect that. Others pointed out that you prefer to use a middleman client to get your Facebook news feed, like TweetDeck or the RockMelt browser, both of which will give you a no-frills chronological view of posts as your friends and pages post them without the mucking around Facebook does with top and recent stories.
Did we miss your favourite utility? Have something compelling to say about one of the contenders? Share your thoughts in the comments below.