Over the next several days I’ll be giving you my list of must have Firefox Add-ons.
Election Day Bonus: Enhancing Your Google Experience with Firefox Add-ons
There are many Firefox extensions that can change your Google experience, but I think I’ve got it narrowed down to the three best.
This one really goes without saying. The Google Toolbar is probably THE must have extension for Firefox. If you don’t already have it, get it now! This essential add-on allows you to search all of Google’s web based tools instantly, allows you to search Google applications like Google Earth, Google Desktop, and Picasa, it also automatically fill-in forms, adds spell check to every web form, and even has a built in translate feature that shows the chosen translation for any word you hover the mouse pointer over. Like everything else in Firefox, it’s highly customizable.
This feature laden extension is like steroids for Google. This add-on removes advertising from your Google results, rewrites links from Google Images searches to point directly to the full size image, filters spam results from Google searches, adds numbers and favicons to your search results, and makes your Google preferences ‘sticky’. What this means is that you set your search preferences in CustomizeGoogle, and these preferences are applied to all Google searches.
Most amazingly, CustomizeGoogle allows you to ‘stream’ search results. With streaming enabled instead of getting the word Gooooooooooogle at the bottom of the page, CustomizeGoogle automatically queries Google for the next set of search results as you scroll towards the bottom of the page, so the results appear as one long web page. This is great for almost anyone who searches with Google.
Google Gears is a web API (Application Programming Interface) that allows for a richer experience for users web-based applications. So far there are not a ton of sites that use gears, but, as with most Google technologies, I imagine that will change very soon. For now, if you use MySpace, Picasa Web Albums, gmail, Google Reader, or Google Calendar you want Google Gears.
Google Gears also supports offline storage. Some web sites, such as Google Reader, Google Calendar, or Remember the Milk, will automatically sync news, appointments, or tasks to your desktop so they are available offline.
Last, but not least, is a simple little extension that can really make a difference in how long it takes you to get your answers. When you search Google, Googlepedia queries Wikipedia with the same search terms and returns the most relevant result to the right of your Google results in place of the advertising that would normally appear.