Essential add-ons for Chrome, Firefox and IE
There are so many plugins, add-ons, extensions and toolbars available for the major browsers that it can be tempting to simply ignore them all in favour of a easy, uncluttered life.
Yet many of these add-ons can be incredibly useful, providing better integration with your favourite web services and plugging gaps in your browser’s functionality.
To save you the chore of wading through the Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer extension galleries, we’ve picked out 20 of the very best utilities you can get your hands on, and they’re all free to use. If you have any plugins of your own to recommend, do let us know in the comments.
Buffer’s primary purpose is to pad out your social media sharing across the day, letting you queue up tweets and Facebook posts. It also makes sharing across multiple networks easy and includes built-in analytics too.
With browsers now remembering your passwords automatically, you don’t need a separate extension… or do you? LastPass offers a huge number of features, including cross-platform compatibility and enhanced security.
3. Google Dictionary
On today’s modern web, spelling checks and word definitions are never far away, but the Google Dictionary extension for Chrome makes life as easy as possible. Simply double-click on a word to see a definition window pop up.
5. Wikipedia Visual Search
This extension adds another option to your list of search providers in Internet Explorer. Wikipedia Visual Search lets you see at a glance the encyclopaedia entries that match your search terms, including a thumbnail picture for easy reference.
Pocket is a place to save everything you want to look, but don’t have time for right now. Using the browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, and the bookmarklet for IE, you can save articles, images, videos and more.
If Pocket is a little too loud and flashy for your tastes, try Instapaper. Instapaper converts any online article into a cleanly rendered, minimal page. There’s an extension for Chrome, and a bookmarklet for other browsers.
Give your Gmail contacts a social media boost with Rapportive, which pulls in details from Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, Twitter and more to add extra information to the right-hand pane. Firefox and Chrome compatible.
9. RSS Subscription Extension
Google Reader may be gone, but the company’s RSS Subscription Extension lives on. Install this utility in Chrome to instantly access all of the available feeds on a page, without having to hunt around to find the relevant links.
10. Share on Facebook
Found something you just can’t wait to tell friends and family about on Facebook? Share on Facebook is an Internet Explorer Accelerator (a fancy name for an extension), which allows you to share a link or picture from the browser’s right-click menu.
11. Click & Clean
As you may have gathered from the name, Lazarus brings your work back from the dead. If you’re filling out a long form or document and your browser crashes, Lazarus can retrieve your data. Lazarus is available for Firefox and Chrome.
Almost every website out there is trying to track your activity and collect data on you. Disconnect (for Chrome and Firefox) shines some light on this murky practice, giving you more control and speeding up your browsing too.
Shopping online can be just as much of a chore as trailing down the high street, but InvisibleHand is here to help. It instantly compares prices across 600+ retailers, so you can always get the best price. For Firefox and Chrome.
DownThemAll is the essential tool for downloading everything at once from a particular page on the web. This Firefox add-on will scoop up links, images and other types of content. You can pick and choose what to save, or get it all with one click.
16. The Great Suspender
If you’re something of a tab hoarder you can quickly end up with dozens of websites open, and that slows your browser down. The Great Suspenderextension can temporarily suspend tabs until you need them and free up memory space.
17. Chrome To Phone
Shareaholic lets you instantly share anything you find on the web with your followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and many other networks. The extension is available for all the major browsers.
19. Save To Google Drive
Many of you who use Chrome will also use Google’s storage platform. The Save to Google Drive add-on lets you save text and images straight to Google Drive from your browser (you would never have guessed with a name like that). HTML pages can be saved as images or in a Google Drive format.
If the boss, your other half, your kids or your parents catch you looking at something you shouldn’t be, PanicButton hides all of your open Chrome tabs in a flash. There is a Firefox equivalent available from a different developer.
In 1989, Bart Simpson made his television debut, Danielle Radcliffe was born and Sir Tim Berners-Lee proposed an “information management” system that would allow people to access pages hosted on computers across the globe.
Yes, Harry Potter is (almost) the same age as the World Wide Web, which turns 25 years old on March 12. (Radcliffe turns 25 in July). Before Berners-Lee and the release of Mosaic, the first popular Web browser, the Internet was a very different place.
“If you weren’t technologically sophisticated, you couldn’t really use it, because you had to use all of these arcane tools and commands,” Donna Hoffman, co-director of the Center for the Connected Consumerat George Washington University, told NBC News.
The Web and Mosaic, she said, “opened up the world of the Internet to anybody who had a browser and a mouse.”
To be clear, the Internet existed before 1989. In-the-know people might connect through a bulletin board system (BBS) or, later, through an email or forum with a service like CompuServe, but the idea of pulling up a website was foreign.
Berners-Lee, who received a knighthood for his work, changed that. He released his code to the world for free in 1990, turning the “Internet from a geeky data-transfer system embraced by specialists and a small number of enthusiasts into a mass-adopted technology,” according to the Pew Research Center’s “The Web at 25” report, released on Thursday.
In 1993, Mosaic, the first popular Web browser, was born. Hoffman, then a business professor at Vanderbilt University, loaded it on her Unix-based workstation and immediately thought, “My God, this is going to change the world.”
“I turned my entire research career around to focus on it,” she said. “At the time, people thought I was insane.”
She was, of course, right to get excited about the impact that the Web would have. Over the next two decades, the Internet grew at an amazing pace.
Fun fact: In 1995, 42 percent of Americans had never heard of the Internet. Of the 14 percent of Americans who had Internet access, only 2 percent were using the top-of-line modems that reached the then-blazing speeds of 28.8 bytes per second.
It would be hard for an 18-to-29-year-old to grasp that idea today, especially considering that 97 percent of them use the Internet. It turns out that most people think that the rise of the Internet has been a positive development.
In fact, today more Americans think it would be “hard or impossible” to give up the Internet (46 percent) than television (35 percent).
Back in the mid-to-early ‘90s, Hoffman said, most big companies did not see this coming. They thought about the Internet as another avenue they could control to reach consumers, she said, like television or radio. They had no idea it would completely change how business in America was conducted.
The same thing, Hoffman said, is happening now with “smart” devices like watches and refrigerators that talk to each other and the cloud.
“I have that same tingling sense now about the ‘Internet of things’ that I did in the mid-90s about the Web,” she said. “It’s going to be revolutionary.”
Microsoft released an emergency software fix for Internet Explorer on Tuesday after hackers exploited a security flaw in the popular Web browser to attack an unknown number of users.
The software maker said on its website it released the software, known as a “Fix It,” as an emergency measure to protect customers after learning about “extremely limited, targeted attacks” that made use of the newly discovered bug.
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To enable it, type about:config into your URL bar, which should bring up a warning. After dismissing it, type plugins.click_to_play into the search bar, then right-click on it and select Toggle. After restarting Firefox, you should see the image above in place of videos.
To do the same thing in Chrome, type chrome://chrome/settings/contentinto your address bar and find the Plug-ins section.
Now, all you have to do is select Click to play. You can also set permissions for specific plug-ins by clicking Manage exceptions.
In Safari, you can download a few extensions to disable autoplay.ClickToPlugin disables all plug-ins from launching content without your permission, and it can replace a lot of media players with HTML5. If you only care about Flash content, you’ll want ClickToFlash instead.
According to Microsoft’s support page, you can use ActiveX filtering to prevent autoplay in IE. Just go to the Tools menu and select Safety, then enable ActiveX Filtering. Now, when you visit a site with ActiveX content, you’ll see a little blue icon in your address bar to let you know it’s being blocked.
To play the blocked media, click on the icon. A menu will pop up, where you can turn off the filter for that site. Once you’re done watching, you can turn it back on by clicking the icon again.