I’ve made a conscious effort to streamline the number of browser extensions I use of late, getting rid of the trash and keeping just the stuff I really need. I've always been slightly wary of too many extensions for their unpleasant tendency to absolutely trash the performance of your browser - in a ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ kind of way.
So, what extensions do I use regularly ?
Adblock - gets installed immediately with any fresh installation of Firefox & Chrome and is absolutely essential to happy and carefree web browsing. You only realise its true value when you suddenly don't have it (such as when using a friend or relative's PC and have to suffer trawling through web pages which are cluttered with ungainly ads).
Smooth Scroll for Chrome (I’m sure there’s an equivalent for Firefox). It's a kind of, 'what it says on the tin' kind of add-on!
Firebug - fantastic app used for tinkering with web design, allowing you to try out changes 'on the fly'. The lite version for Chrome is pretty useless but the Firefox version is superb.
LastPass – A fantastically useful add-on for managing passwords and completing forms.
Dictionary Lookup for Chrome – Double clicking on a word whilst holding down Ctrl brings up a definition with no further steps, clicks or mouse movements.
Feedly - a quirky alternative to Google Reader, it's a much better (and more attractive) means of finding and exploring content, but maybe not always as great for whizzing through as many subscriptions as possible to clear the backlog whilst keeping an eye out for interesting content.
I used to use Aardvark a few years ago to remove unnecessary elements from a page before printing and have recently discovered the Aardvark bookmarklet which works on any browser and works great. I found it useful for removing tell-tale elements from the BBC’s live commentary feeds for World Cup matches (and F1 free practice sessions) whilst at work.
In the past, I've tried xmarks to keep my bookmarks in sync across the various computers I use but found it to be problematic and despite constant tinkering and reinstalls, never fully resolved the problems. Knowing that I use Google Chrome 99% of the time - and knowing how damn well the built-in bookmark synchronization works - I've reverted back to that.
For what it's worth, I've tried a whole bunch of extensions over the past few years (who hasn't?) but most of them don't last long. They range from highlighting gizmos, scrapbooking stuff, so-called Gmail enhancements, to bibliography-enhancing add-ons for university work - you name it. The extension ecosystems for both Firefox and Chrome have grown astronomically and it seems there's an extension for just about anything.
Probably the worst example of extension gluttony, though, is 'nothing' from Chrome. Yeah, my self-respect for humanity dropped a notch, too, when I realised it does exactly what it says.
Worryingly, it's got great reviews:
If there are any killer add-ons out there you think would enrich my life, go ahead and feel free to shout out about them.