A website's layout and formatting may improve or reduce its readability. Black text on a dark background or distracting menus are just two of the elements that reduce the readability of a textual information.
The Firefox add-on Readable, a direct port of the bookmarklet Readable, falls into the same category of tools such as TidyRead, Paragrasp or Readability for the Firefox web browser. The basic principle is always the same. The script removes elements on the screen that are not necessary to access the core information posted on the website. Some do that automatically with barely any configuration options, others like Readable offer an impressive collection of options to create a custom solution best suited for each individual usage scenario.
The Firefox extension places an icon in the Firefox status bar that triggers the action. A click on the icon extracts the main text from the page and overlays a bare-bones version of it on the screen.
The main text, links and images are included in the new version, everything else is removed automatically.
A right-click on the icon opens the configuration menu with options to change the font type and size, the width of the overlay box, the inner margin and the color theme.
It can happen that the add-on is not able to extract the information properly. You can then highlight the information that you want to read first before you click on the icon in the status bar. The add-on will then process only the highlighted parts of the website and ignore all other web elements.
The bookmarklet offers the same functionality. Well, that's not entire true as it lists more configuration options than the Firefox extension.
Among the additional options are the inclusion of video contents, transparency settings, text line height and image alignment.
So what should you use: The Firefox add-on or the bookmarklet? The bookmarklet offers several advantages, mainly better configuration options, the fact that it is not loaded into memory during browser start and that is is compatible with other web browsers as well. The small downside of the bookmarklet is that its configuration page is not that easily accessible.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.