6 reasons to use Firefox as your web browser

Sometimes we instructional technologists get so excited about the next big thing (or Wave) that we forget to let everyone know about some of the really useful tools we use on a daily basis. Case in point – Firefox. Firefox is a free “open source community-powered” web browser developed through Mozilla. The Firefox website provides a good summary of Firefox’s key features. Some of my personal favorites include Firefox’s excellent use of “tabbed” browsing, the “awesome bar,” and the ability to zoom in and out of pages.

While it’s true that many other browsers (Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome) have also implemented similar features, one key Firefox feature really makes it worthwhile: Add-ons. According to Mozilla, add-ons are “little extras that customize Firefox.” With nearly 6,000 of these “little extras” now available, Firefox can be customized to fit most any workflow.

Here are six of my favorite Firefox add-ons that I use almost daily.

1) Easy YouTube video downloader

Ever needed to show a YouTube video at a conference, but didn’t have internet access? Or maybe you wanted to archive a clip for a research project? This add-on places a small set of links within a YouTube video’s page, allowing users to download the video in various formats. (Note: All applications that download content should be used in compliance with copyright law.)

2) Tab Scope

With the ability to open a link as a new “tab” instead of as a whole new “window,” tabbed browsing can really help keep things organized. However, it can also get out of hand quickly if you end up opening too many tabs at the same time. The Tab Scope add-on aims to help by displaying a small preview of the contents of a particular tab when you hover over it.

3) Delicious Bookmarks

This add-on integrates the social bookmarking tool Delicious with Firefox (see the CIT page about Delicious). Once installed, you can bookmark and tag pages and search your Delicious bookmarks from within Firefox. Any new bookmark or change is automatically synced to Delicious on the web – so you can still access the Delicious website from any computer to retrieve bookmarked sites.

4) Read it Later

Sometimes you come across a website, article or blog post that’s not perhaps valuable enough to bookmark, but that you’d still like to revisit and finish reading some other time. Read It Later was created for just such a purpose. Visit the developer’s website for more info.

5) Zotero

Zotero “is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources.”  For more information, see the blog posts in the Duke Library Hacks blog or go directly to Zotero.org.

6) Evernote Web Clipper

Evernote is a web notebooking tool that helps you collect web clippings, articles, pictures, screen-captures and more. Installing the web clipper add-on helps make copying and tagging content from the web into Evernote an even easier process. For more info on Evernote, see CIT’s toolkit page.

To learn more about using Firefox in general, see the Firefox tips page.

Shawn Miller

Author: Shawn Miller

Shawn leads and manages the Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) in its mission to develop and deliver services that foster innovation in the uses of technology for teaching and learning. website