Column Reader for Firefox, better widescreen monitor reading

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 4, 2012
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

If you have to read a lot when you are working on the Internet you have probably encountered situations where you'd have to read through a large document or maybe even a book that was published on an Internet site. Browsers by default do not really work that well in this case, and while it is certainly possible to read the document or book using standard browser controls, most users may prefer a set of tools that makes the whole process more enjoyable for them.

Extensions such as Readability, Tidyread or Evernote Clearly remove the majority of page elements from a web page so that only the actual text that you want to read is displayed on it. Many change the font type and size as well to take advantage of the space that is now free to use in the browser window.

Column Reader is another Firefox extension that aims to turn Firefox into a web reader that improves reading comfort in the web browser. The extension turns articles that you select in a column layout that newspapers all over the world use.

Instead of having to scroll down once you reach the end of the visible page, you now scroll to the side. The extension makes available a set of tools for you to use to make scrolling and orientating a pleasant experience. When you move the cursor down to the bottom of the page, you will notice that all pages are displayed in miniature format there. Here you see where you are position-wise and  have options to scroll page by page or as long as you want by clicking or holding down the mouse while moving it to the left or right.

But the bottom navigation is only one option that the author of the extension is making available. You get a number of icons at the top that change behavior as well as the look and feel as well. As far as scrolling goes, you can switch between normal, fast, slow or stepped scrolling. One option here is for instance to click once to scroll forward or backward one column.

Layout-wise, you have options to change the number of columns to a value between one and five, and to switch from the standard layout to journal or book mode instead. Here you can also modify page margins, fonts and colors used on the page. The controls give you options to change a page's color scheme, invert the colors, or change the brightness or contrast gradually. Changes can be saved for individual pages or domains, with options to revert back to the default settings at any point in time.

Column Reader for Firefox is an excellent well thought out extension that can be especially helpful for widescreen monitor users who want to make use of the screen estate they have at their disposal.


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  1. CKT said on September 27, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    I discovered Column Reader a couple of months ago. I’d like to add to the review.

    The reviewer says:
    “Instead of having to scroll down once you reach the end of the visible page, you now scroll to the side.”

    Moving the columns sideways is only the out-of-the box setting of Column Reader: vertical scrolling is available just as well.

    When set in ‘Scroll mode’ the columns scroll proportional to the mouse wheel input. That is, when an image is cut in two, with the top half in one column and the bottom half in the next column, then in scroll mode you can scroll up or down to move the image to a single column. Personally I think the scroll mode is better than the out-of-the-box setting.

    In general the view that Column Reader provides is very configurable. A wide range of users is likely to find a combination that suits them.

  2. PageDown said on September 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    hmm… I think Evernote’s Clearly is better.
    (line width = 50em or more… perfect for wide screens)

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