My Favorite 4 Firefox Add-ons
( 9 min read )
The \"mosaic killer\" browser, Firefox, is my daily driver and has been for a long time. So it should be no surprise that I've accumulated a list of favorite Firefox Add-ons (or Extensions) over the years.
Everyone has their own favorite list, and don't think your favorite extensions aren't worthy if they aren't mentioned. But for me, personally I tend to focus on privacy and security more than your average user.
These add-ons are easy to use too, so you don't need to be a Pro-user of Firefox to use them. You could visit your Mother's place and install these on her computer and she wouldn't have to call you for help later after you leave because \"the internet broke\".
I'm going to also mention any drawbacks or \"gotchas\" to these add-ons. I want to very clearly state any cons or problems you might encounter when using these add-ons. I don't want folks to be upset that I didn't warn them with my glowing review of my favorite add-ons. I'll also do this for upcoming iOS favorites as well. Anyway, on to the list!
Why I love it: A free Ad-blocker that stops bad advertisements, malware sites, and more, from tracking you. You'll be amazed at how much faster your pages load when they stop the third-party trackers embedded on most pages from loading. Out-of-the-box, uBlock Origin stops most ads and trackers using some predefined lists. You can enable the advanced user mode to configure even more settings and lists, but most users won't ever need to. You can also disable uBlock Origin anytime for websites you wish to give \"full-access\" to third-party trackers. I do this from time to time to support news/blogs so they can earn money from ads.
This add-on is the single best protection against malware \"drive-bys\" that can infect your computer as well. Its not anti-virus software per se, but eliminating the third-party trackers and ads also eliminates the chances of downloading something you weren't expecting in the first place. So this add-on is privacy first, but with a hidden security benefit as well.
Gotchas: Sometimes uBlock Origin can break a website. And by that, I mean the content, images, videos, might not load. You'll also have a different viewing experience than other people, simply because the spaces that were reserved for advertisements are now blank boxes, or the other content on the page will shift around to fill in the empty space. This can be easily fixed by disabling uBlock Origin for the website by clicking on the blue power icon and reloading the page.
Why I love it: Another privacy-focused add-on? Yep. Its similar to uBlock Origin but using this add-on in addition to uBlock really helps seal any leaks with third-party trackers from bad advertisement sites. I won't say a whole lot about Privacy Badger, other than that its free and built by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) which also built the next add-on in my list. I highly recommend using this in conjunction with uBlock Origin.
Gotchas: As ad-blocking goes, this add-on can sometimes break a website. Content, images, videos, might not load. But just like uBlock Origin, there is a disable button to turn off Privacy Badger and load all the third-party trackers. You then don't have to re-enable it afterwards because its only being disabled for that specific website. In my experience Privacy Badger does break websites more often than uBlock Origin, and if it annoys you then its perfectly fine to just use uBlock by itself.
Why I love it: Another great add-on by the EFF, that's free too. HTTPS Everywhere helps automatically insecure HTTP connections upgrade to HTTPS ones if they are available. This clever add-on will rewrite requests when it detects that a website has HTTPS available. Why is this important? Because HTTPS connections use encryption to hide the payload of the request to the website you're visiting. This prevents packet-sniffing hackers from reading (or modifying) what you see in your browser. A great example is your online bank; they use HTTPS (hopefully) to secure user logins and bank transactions. This add-on is a must have and requires no configuration to use.
Gotchas: A request can only be upgraded if that website supports HTTPS. If the site is only available over plain-ole HTTP, then you're out of luck. You'll have to send a nasty email to the webmaster of that site and ask them to enable HTTPS if possible.
Why I love it: Ok now its time for something more security focused rather than privacy. Bitwarden is a free password manager. I've mentioned it before in my favorite iOS apps list and I'll mention it every chance I get! Its better than other services because its open source software, which means anyone can audit the code to verify its not malicious, or stealing passwords. Using Bitwarden with Firefox is simple and convenient. Even if you don't use the random password generator built-in for super strong passwords that are hard to guess, you can simply store your current passwords in Bitwarden and quickly fill out the login forms to frequently visited websites.
Gotchas: If you haven't used a password manager before, you'll have to get used to \"forgetting\" all the passwords it saves for you, and only remembering the Master Password to login to Bitwarden. Save that Master Password very carefully, because losing that single password could prove difficult to get control of your account back.
And that's it for now. Let me know what you think, or if you have a new add-on I should try out.
Published: May 15, 2018