How do you use your Firefox?

Daniel Pataki
Mar 8, 2009
Updated • May 26, 2017
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

Since I always go through a lot of 'phases' in the way I use software, I am really interested to know how you guys use your browsers. Basically in the beginning I knew nothing of addons and such, so I just used it as is (this was when tabbed browsing came in).

Once addons were popular I tried a few and I loved them, so I packed my Firefox chock full of them, which gave me load of functionality, but resulted in slower loading times, more frequent crashes and general slowness and clutter.

Since then I have decided that the minimalistic approach is best. I can visit Twitter's home page if I want to add a tweet, I can visit Gmail to see if I have unread messages, right now I only have the most essential stuff on. I feel more productive this way actually since I can focus much more on the page I am viewing (working on), as opposed to the eye candy/masses of functionality at my fingertips. Are you the person who enjoys a minimalistic Firefox, or someone who needs to have all the latest addons right now? Let us know!

Update: I'm also trying to limit the number of add-ons installed in the browser, and even deactivate some that I do not need all the time. This is for instance the case with an extension to download videos, or one that provides me with specific functionality on some websites that I visit every now and then.

I only have six or so extensions that I do not want to live without. I could however trim them down to one or two only that I do not want to use the browser without. My number one extension for the past few years has been NoScript for instance which I won't uninstall under any circumstances (Martin).

How do you use your Firefox?
Article Name
How do you use your Firefox?
Daniel wants to know how you use the Firefox web browser. Do you install a lot of add-ons, or make modifications to the interface?
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  1. szamba said on May 14, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    I would say the goals of Residence Management Software have been
    to reduce software and support charges.

  2. Peter Owen said on March 9, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I use several plugins, but I think I’ve found my satiation point for them. I posted about which plugins I use and why here:

  3. Daniel Pataki said on March 9, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Hi Idodialog!

    First of all, thanks for sharing that list, even though I use as few addons as I can, I am always open to new stuff.

    I also completely disagree about the addon quality part. Most of them are above excellent, and I don’t think many people use the ones which are not :)

  4. Daniel Pataki said on March 9, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Hi nessa!

    Mouse gestures are really easy :) You can go into advanced stuff and use them for a lot of things, but I mainly use them for navigation (back and forward).

    This just involves holding down the right button and dragging left or right, I think that’s pretty simple :)

  5. slapjimmy said on March 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    i used to use no addscript etc but i found them all too annoying. all it really does is teach you how to click “i agree”. if i infect myself i clean the infection. combofix is awesome btw.

    my fav addons are:
    quickdrag: to drag selected txt to google search
    tab new homepage
    ie7: new style tab button
    text link: fixes links that are embedded
    aging tabs: shows the tabs u clicked last in order of fading colour

  6. Idodialog said on March 9, 2009 at 11:10 am

    I use Chrome for minimalist but FF for all the heavy lifting, its my daily home. I entirely disagree about the quality of add-ons – most are excellent tho startup does take a hit, however I never have a crash and it runs fast and smooth and unlike Chrome can cope with lots of tabs started around the same time.
    I’m going to bare my soul – here are my add-ons most of which I refuse to live without!
    1. AdblockFilterset.GUpdater.xpi — Synchronizes Adblock with Filterset.G
    2. AdblockPlus.xpi — Ads were yesterday!
    3. AddBookmarkHere.xpi — Add a menuitem “Add Bookmark Here…” to Bookmarks Menu.
    4. AutoPager.xpi — AutoPager is a firefox/mozilla extensions to autoloading next page at backgrand.And you can use it an XPath generator too.
    5. BetterGmail2.xpi — Enhances Gmail with a compilation of useful features written by Greasemonkey user script developers. All scripts copyright their original authors. Click on the script homepage in the Help tab for more information.
    6. CompactMenu2.xpi — Duplicates the menubar on the toolbar as a menu of menus.
    7. Cooliris.xpi — Cooliris (formerly PicLens) transforms your browser into a full-screen 3D Wall for searching, viewing and sharing the Web.
    8. CustomizeGoogle.xpi — Enhance Google search results and remove ads and spam
    9. DownThemAll.xpi — The mass downloader for Firefox.
    10. DownloadStatusbar.xpi — View and manage downloads from a tidy statusbar
    11. FEBE.xpi — Backup your Firefox data
    12. FoxTab.xpi — Quickly switch between tabs using interactive tab switching modes.
    13. FoxmarksBookmarkSynchronizer.xpi — Synchronizes your bookmarks across machines.
    14. GoogleRedesigned.xpi — A complete redesign of popular Google services
    15. GoogleToolbarforFirefox.xpi — Take the power of Google with you anywhere on the Web!
    16. Googlepedia.xpi — Shows you a relevant wikipedia article along with your search results.
    17. IETab.xpi — Enables you to use the embedded IE engine within Mozilla/Firefox.
    20. PDFDownload.xpi — Allows you to choose what to do with a PDF file: download it, view it with an external viewer or view it as HTML.
    21. QuickDrag.xpi — Extends the function of the drag-and-drop mouse gesture so that it can be used to load URLs, do a web search of selected text on a page, or save an image on a page.
    22. RefractorforPrism.xpi — Create Prism applications directly in Firefox
    23. Stylish.xpi — Restyle the web with Stylish, a user styles manager.
    24. TabMixPlus.xpi — Tab browsing with an added boost.
    25. TextLink.xpi — Allows URI texts written in webpages to be loaded by double clicks.
    26. UndoClosedTabsButton.xpi — Add a toolbar and/or tab bar button to undo closed tabs
    27. UrlbarExt.xpi — Extends the Location Bar with set of commands to (Make Tiny URL,Copy URL,Search site,Go up,Tag pages easily ,Navigate through sequential URL’s,Unblock filtered websites and Surf anonymously using online phproxy servers)
    28. iterasiExtension.xpi — for

  7. nessa said on March 9, 2009 at 10:01 am

    @Rick (not the same Rick as above): Hey, Thanks for the advice. I have tried full screen but I like my taskbar too much, I have loads of windows open when I’m working or studying. Not found an alternative to the taskbar that I am comfortable with. :)
    @Daniel Pataki : I think I should look into mouse gestures now, was too wimpy or lazy to learn how to use them so far.

  8. Daniel Pataki said on March 9, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Wow. lot’s of comments here, it was interesting to read how you all approach addons.

    I was surprised that none of you mentioned mouse gestures which elliminate the need for back and stop and forward buttons completely, and can even replace bookmarks somewhat.

    Dante had a comment that many users who pack FF full of addons are like showing off geeks. I actually do think it’s true sometimes, but not too much. I do think for some people they think they’re somehow more proficient the more addons they have, but I don’t think this is the majority.

    All in all, addons are damn useful, if you need the speed and resposiveness though you’ll have to make compromises. Although I found that once I stopped and had 5 addons instead of 25, I didn’t really miss the others.

  9. Dustin C said on March 9, 2009 at 8:16 am

    My Firefox install comes with almost no addons. the only one i really use is tab to window.

    the only bar i have is my nav bar with the file menu stuff, nav buttons, url bar and the search bar all on one row, then my bookmark toolabar on the next row. everything is extremely small and very minimal. my bookmark toolbar is just favicons centered.

  10. mrogi said on March 9, 2009 at 5:27 am

    AdBlock Plus is the only must-have FireFox extension.

  11. Rick (not the same Rick as above) said on March 9, 2009 at 3:23 am

    Ben, David, nessa, and others who like a minimalist interface to save screen real estate: Have you tried full screen mode in various browsers? The F11 key makes it happen. Firefox’s full screen is great, it gives you an auto-hide tab bar and address/navigation bar.

  12. Diablo1123 said on March 9, 2009 at 3:17 am

    Few basic stuff.
    Adblcokplus NoScript and Downloadmanger is all i thinik
    And flashgot.

    Also use Shiretoko just for fun.

  13. Danny said on March 9, 2009 at 1:43 am

    I tried liking FF but there’s very little to like. Most add-ons are crap, the essential ones ought to be pre-built into the code, and the performance leaves a lot to be desired. In the end, no add-on was a real killer feature, so I moved on to Google Chrome. Less is indeed more.

  14. Terence Hill said on March 8, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    I keep my FireFox slower but full of features! With a minimal Firefox I’d lose more time doing many things that I can do easily with the installed addons.
    I have 40+ addons (some almost unused though, but ready to use) ;D

  15. nessa said on March 8, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    oh. P.S. I used Zotero while writing my thesis. But the database got too heavy for my normal browser with all the entries and research materials. I liked it so much that I installed it into portable firefox and I use that as a separate instance, a standalone zotero research powerhouse.

  16. nessa said on March 8, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Minimalistic for me. I have less than 10 add-ons but they speed up my work on the net considerably. Tab mix plus, Flashblock, ad blockplus, foxmarks, Fasterfox, Stylish, context search, Custom toolbar buttons and tumblrpost are essentials for me.
    I like to read so lots of space in the browser is good for me. I use personal menu to collapse the menu bar into a button and squish it with the navigation bar; bookmarks bar is hidden, and lots of tweaks with stylish. I use Full flat theme which is very minimal and seems to speed up a browsing (I feel :p)
    @ben: I think I use something similar for bookmarks in a list. (Am i allowed links?) You can make your own custom toolbar button at I think you can get dropdown bookamrk functionality and much more from the custom toolbar buttons extension. Just see if you find something you like. Very useful and customizable.

  17. archer said on March 8, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    dante, i’m sorry, but that’s an idiotic comment. i have no one looking over my shoulder that i’m trying to impress. i work alone. i find these extensions continuously useful.

  18. Dante said on March 8, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    I use the minimalistic approach to Firefox also. I only have 3 add-ons: Febe backup, NoScript and ShowIP. I found this to be as fast as Chrome withOUT the security holes that Chrome has.

    One thing that I have found with folks who put on a tonne of add-ons: they’re like the geeks who loads up their belt with gadgets until it looks like Batman’s utility belt. They have an insane desire to impress others who don’t really care, but would definitely chuckle at them behind their backs.

  19. archer said on March 8, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    man, once you’ve used firefox with extensions, how do you stop?

    my usage is very similar to rick#2. i use chromium (not google chrome) for sites that i’m constantly using. i set up what chrome for some odd reason calls “application shorcuts”, which are like prism; dedicated to one site.

    but i can’t see doing without sage, download them all, greasemonkey, no script, adblock, scrapbook, fireshot, archview, flashgot, all in one sidebar, bbcode, easy drag to go, faviconize tab, organize search engines, pixlr, taboo, text link, ubiquity, inform enter, and i’ve left out some.

    load time is slower, but i only need to load it one to three times a day.

    why can’t someone come up with the perfect browser? one that had all the positives of firefox, opera, and chrome, and with the ability to handle those damnable sites that insist on i.e.?

    for now, firefox with extensions, including i.e. tab, is as close to perfection as is attainable by my experience.

  20. MK said on March 8, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    I love minimalism too, so I use Opera ;)

    But I do open Firefox once in a while for web development. Firebug + Web Developer Toolbar is the only add-on I have on my Firefox.

  21. shane said on March 8, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    I used to get all caught up in all the Firefox add-ons, too. And then along came Google Chrome. I had to try it when it came out, but never intended to switch browsers. Now I am addicted to it’s simple (and ridiculously fast), no add-on’s interface.

    If I ever was to switch back to Firefox, which is unlikely at this point, I would definitely go the “less is more” route. Most of the add-ons are unnecessary and don’t help to increase productivity, with the possible exception of Greasemonkey.

  22. rruben said on March 8, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    The addons for firefox are a blessing and curse at the same time, because the addons make firefox start up slower. It’s not my primary browser anymore, but I can’t live without it either. I use firefox with a lot of web developer addons and the seotoolbar from Aaron Wall. So Firefox is my work browser.
    For just daily browsing and research on the web I use Chrome because it’s so incredible fast and lightweight.

    Just love them both for different tasks.

    And almost forgot Opera for banking ;)

  23. Rick (not the same Rick as above) said on March 8, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    My Firefox is the swiss army knife/sledgehammer of my browser toolchest. It’s got addons appropriate for some difficult jobs I do, such as downloading embedded media or figuring out POST queries on sites that refuse GET queries.

    My Opera is my general purpose browser, with a minimalist skin, a couple UserJS scripts (similar to Greasemonkey), and not much else. It does have a lot built-in.

    I’ve got Chrome for when I need a quick browser to do something small without my usual cookies getting involved.

    Then of course I have IE for sites that require it.

    I don’t have any use for additional browsers but I have tried QtWeb (as posted on gHacks) which was nice and fast but too raw, and I’ve installed Safari at work but haven’t needed it.

  24. Geoff said on March 8, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    First thing I do is start the profile manager & put my profile on my second hard drive once I done that install all extensions that I use & all ways back up that folder as when reinstalling I just point Firefox to the folder with the profile manager & all data is there I all so do the same with Thunderbird.

    All so if you want to test out an extension just make a new profile so it doesn’t mess with your main profile

  25. David Dashifen Kees said on March 8, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    While I like a minimalist interface, I use many, many extensions to create a browser that tells me everything from the weather to the state of javascript on the page, allows me to analyze color settings of sites, and gives me powerful debugging tools. In short: Firefox is, too me, one part browser and one part personal data service.

  26. Paul(us). said on March 8, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Hey Rick, Which dictionary for (dutch) spell check do you have? Would you be so kind to give me a name or internetsite adres?

  27. Rick said on March 8, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Same for me. I’m using Firefox mostly with default settings. Only some add-ons I often use, like foxmarks, web developer toolbar, dictionary for (dutch) spell check and ietab.

    In the beginning when I started using Firefox I installed a lot of add-ons, but some add-ons, or a combination of add-ons, make FF slow and unstable. So be careful with add-ons ;)

  28. Paul(us). said on March 8, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    I like to keep it minimalistic (with a few perks) as possible exept for main security. I use noscript, adblock with elementhelper,autohidestatusbar, update notifer, url fixer, tab mix plus, surf canyon, stumbelupon, snap links plus, screengrab, ramback, QuickWiki, localrodeo for firefox, hostname in titel bar, greasmonkey (only the absolut save and absolut necesary ones), free download manager plugin,cooliris

  29. Ben said on March 8, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I keep things very minimal, and love it
    only adblock plus w/easylist and easyprivacy
    dont show the tabbar unless theres more than 2 tabs
    no bookmark bar
    combined the stop/refresh buttons with userchrome.css
    i would hide the menubar as well, but havent figured out a way to make a bookmark button that shows the list of your bookmarks instead of opening the sidebar

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