Firefox is still a strong browser and with Chrome getting heavier than ever, many are looking back to their old friend Firefox as an alternative. Plus, it’s still got one of the best, well-vetted extension libraries around. Here are the essential Firefox extensions you need to bend the web to your will.
The Lifehacker Pack is a yearly snapshot of our favourite, must-have applications for our favourite platforms. This list is the first pack we've done for Firefox.
Chances are, you come across so many links, blog posts and news stories in a day that you couldn't possibly read it all right then — especially when you're trying to get work done. Enter bookmark-and-read-later services: Enter bookmark-and-read-later services: Instapaper and Pocket are your big two options in this arena, as is Readability, which still works and has a devoted following, but hasn’t been updated in years. All of them send those links to their respective services, strip them of their ads and formatting, and give you a nice readable version to return to later on any device you own. Pocket is built-in to Firefox, and we do love Pocket, so you may not need another extension to get this job done.
Wunderlist is still one of our favorite to-do managers, and the Firefox extension makes it even better. With a click you can save any web content straight to your to-do lists, perfect for making those to-do lists detailed and actionable. It’s fast, free, and flexible, and even though Wunderlist was acquired by Microsoft last year, it’s still business as usual, and the Firefox extension was even updated in January 2016. For the record, my personal favorite goes to Todoist, which also has a Firefox extension, if you’re looking for an alternative.
If you install any extension, install this one. Ever write something in a browser window, only to have it crash and lose all your work? Lazarus is your lifesaver. When you’re typing in a form, Lazarus continuously saves what you’re doing. If your browser crashes, or you accidentally close the tab, you can get that text back just by right-clicking in the now — empty text box on that page. You may not think you need it now, but when that fateful day comes, you’ll be glad you had it installed.
If you’re an Evernote user and don’t already have the Evernote Web Clipper, you should definitely install it. If you’re using Evernote but aren’t using the Web Clipper, you’re missing out on one of Evernote’s best uses. However, if you’re an Evernote user who’s more than a little put off by their recent price hike and restrictions on free accounts, Microsoft OneNote is feature-competitive, and comes with a web clipper of its own that’s very much worth using.
In either case, instead of just jotting down notes about something in your notebook, the Web Clipper lets you save an entire article, page, or section of a page to your notes so you don’t have to waste your time. Then you can jot notes on that article, save it with other related notes for a project, and more.
Every week, at least, there’s a new hack. Unfortunately, your clever password tricks aren’t working anymore, and the only secure password is one you can’t remember — which is why you need a password manager to keep them all straight. LastPass is our favorite, but Dashlane is another excellent, easy to set up and feature-comparable alternative. Throwing all your passwords into a password manager isn’t as difficult as it sounds: it’ll create secure passwords for you, log you in automatically, and you can access them all really easily if you need to manually enter them yourself.
Both LastPass and Dashlane even have tools to change compromised passwords for you with a single click — without you even going to the site to do it. Check out our guide to LastPass to get started, and the alternatives if LastPass isn’t your speed. Of course, LastPass itself isn’t invulnerable, (far from it, in fact) and it was recently acquired by LogMeIn (not that that’s changed anything yet), but it’s far better than trying to remember multiple passwords for multiple sites, or even worse, using the same password for multiple services.
Using HTTPS is one of the simplest ways to secure your web browsing and protect your credentials from getting stolen. HTTPS Everywhere is simple: it forces your browser to use HTTPS on any site that supports it, so you never have to think about it (though you can whitelist certain sites if HTTPS Everywhere causes problems — which can happen from time to time). HTTPS Everywhere has been around for a while, but it’s been getting regular ruleset and feature updates. You can read more about it over at the EFF.
Look, we make our living off of ads here at Lifehacker, but that doesn’t mean ads are always a good thing. Some sites have overzealous ads that get in your way when you hover over text, and others have ads that are downright deceitful and make it difficult to find the 'Download Now' button you’re actually looking for. If you’re tired of ads getting in your way, uBlock Origin (or AdBlock Plus) is the solution. We prefer uBlock Origin because it’s a leaner alternative that will save you precious RAM and still block ads (and tons of other scripts and other irritating, memory-draining elements on the web,) and it can use all of the lists and rules that AdBlock Plus, which has been around longer, can use. On top of that, it gives you way more control to whitelist, filter, and dynamically filter elements as you see fit.
Either will block ads on just about any page you come across (though we hope you’ll whitelist the sites you want to support). It’ll also protect your privacy across the web, block other sections you want to hide (like YouTube comments), and even block malware (check out this post for everything it can do). You can alternatively stop scripts from running on any page with NoScript — though we generally find that to be more of a pain than it’s worth, since it’ll break many sites you use.
Everyone's trying to track you on the web, and Disconnect is the fix. Disconnect stops ad trackers, social widgets, and other tracking elements before they load, speeding up your web browsing and keeping certain noses out of your web activity. The full desktop app goes further, including a malware and adware-blocking VPN, but the browser extension is powerful enough for most people, and it’s lightweight. Some of you may be using the similar Ghostery extension, but Disconnect doesn't have quite as much controversy surrounding it, so we recommend it instead.
Whether you use Gmail, Outlook, or another webmail app, learning to encrypt your sensitive messages is a must on today’s web, and Mailvelope is an easy to use, simple extension that’ll let you do it. It’s built on the widely-used and well-regarded PGP standard, and we have a whole guide to encrypting your email with it, including step-by-step instructions on how to set it up.
Greasemonkey and Stylish
Sometimes, you don't need a full-on extension to do what you want to do — sometimes, all it takes is a little well-placed script. They’re easy to install, easy to learn to write and give you complete control over the way you experience the web. Often, these come in the form of Greasemonkey scripts and Userstyles, whether they're fixing YouTube annoyances, improving the latest iteration of Gmail or organising your Netflix queue. Userscripts require the Greasemonkey extension and Userstyles require Stylish, so we recommend having both on hand. Don't worry, they don’t run or consume system resources until you actually need a script you have installed.
There are lots of ways to fix your YouTube annoyances, some of which we’ve already mentioned, but YouTube High Definition gives you a ton of control above and beyond those tools. This one add-on gives you the ability to choose the resolution all of your videos load at (for example, I have it set to always load videos at their highest available resolution), auto-play them or never play them until you press play, auto-mute them, and more. It extends HD video support to sites like Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter so you don’t have to manually change resolution, lets you tweak the video size to fit your browser, can disable annotations permanently, and more. Best of all, even though some of these features are available as toggles at YouTube proper, when you’re viewing embedded video elsewhere, it’s a tossup whether the video will obey your settings. YouTube High Definition makes sure they do, every time, anywhere on the web.
Tab Mix Plus is one of those extensions that is so great that it’s the only thing keeping some people on Firefox—and with good reason. It gives you complete control and customisation of Firefox’s tabs, from duplicating tabs, to controlling tab focus, deciding what happens when you click on a tab, and a ton more. If you don’t believe me, just look at its massive settings page. It can have an adverse effect on performance, but once you start using it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
DownThemAll may have been around since the stone age, but it's still one of the most essential Firefox extensions around (plus it's only available on Firefox). It completely changes the way you download files: you can download all the links, images, or other objects on a web page, download files matching a certain criteria in one click, automatically rename files, and even boost your download speeds. While you're at it, we also recommend grabbing VideoDownloadHelper — it will download videos from YouTube and other streaming sites right to your computer.
Firefox can already sync your bookmarks and open tabs between your computers, but Xmarks is a much more fully-featured syncing solution — plus it can sync between Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer as well, which is important if Firefox isn’t your only browser (and we’re willing to bet it isn’t.) You can create profiles (like 'Work' and 'Play') and decide which ones to sync to which computers, get information about a site from your address bar, and more. If you want more than Firefox’s Sync service can give, it’s worth a look.
If you use Facebook, you’ve probably complained about Facebook before. Social Fixer is the one extension you need to make Facebook infinitely better, by getting rid of obnoxious political posts, track people who unfriend you, and plenty more. If you want an alternative, check out FB Purity, but the developers behind Social Fixer point out that a pretty big update is coming soon that we're looking forward to.