Firefox Add-ons for Higher Education Web

firefox add ons Firefox Add ons for Higher Education WebA while back I read a post over on SEOmoz about popular web browser toolbars and their value from a web developer or internet marketer perspective. It was a wonderful article that I highly recommend. This article had me thinking, this list is great but what about Higher Education professionals? I’ve been working on a list and actually had a conversation with Chris Strauber our Web Service Librarian about it. Somewhere deep down I guess I kind of feel like a web person putting together a list of Firefox add-ons that you use is sort of a requirement, right!? For the most part many of these are the standards that everyone has installed, but hopefully you will see something that that you just didn’t know about. So here is my list.

Search and Analytical Data Toolbars

  • Sparky - Alexa Toolbar for Firefox - Why do I include a toolbar that many say is adware? Because this toolbar is an absolute requirement for anyone who is a web developer or internet marketer. I’m sure everyone has heard about Alexa well this toolbar provides you with wonderful data about web site rankings AND counts your traffic. Alexa is a great system, but is known for it’s inaccuracies and bias towards the SEO and SEM community. None the less if by installing this add-on you can help your institutions website rank better in this index it’s a must. Also this isn’t proven, but I’m fairly certain that Google uses this data to help them update their index by crawling pages that are visited by Alexa users. ONLY Install the Firefox version. Alexa does have a Internet Explorer version of this toolbar and I still believe it still is adware.
    UPDATE: I actually wrote half this post a while back, but never got around to publishing so I’m just updating as I go.  Alexa has updated their algorithms to be more balanced and pull from more sources so this toolbar isn’t as powerful in helping sites you visit rank, but I still believe it is valuable for helping direct bots to where to crawl. Having it definitely can’t hurt your site rank either.
  • Google Toolbar - Most everyone loves Google so this nice little toolbar can save you some time in search results as you will never need to visit the Google homepage again. Also if you use Gmail this toolbar has extra value their. Knowing Page Rank of pages that your own also is convienent. Although all this is nice it isn’t necessary. Lastly when you install the toolbar there is an option to send usuage stats to Google. As a web person, YOU WANT THIS CHECKED! Why because similar to the Alexa toolbar you want your pages indexed quicker and you want your usuage stats tracked by the web powers that be. This isn’t black hat it’s simply keeping up with the Jones’ and really can make a difference in the search engines over time.
    UPDATE: I’m convinced that this is one of the additional resources that Alexa is pulling data for their updated rankings.
  • Compete Toolbar - Similar to Alexa this is a great toolbar for tracking traffic and web analytics. Also similar to Google and Alexa this toolbar helps Compete track your data better.
    UPDATE: Once again here’s another source I’m guessing Alexa is pulling for their rankings so double good.

The Social Bookmarking Toolbar

  • Shareaholic - This is the must have toolbar for submitting to Social Bookmarking sites. Not only is it clean and doesn’t take up much room at all, it also shows you how many times the page that you are on has been dugg or saved on It currently supports Digg,, Facebook, Friendfeed, Google Bookmarks, Magnolia, Mixx, Reddit, Simpy, StumbleUpon, Truemors, Tumblr, Twitter, and Bzzster. You can even customize it to only show the options that you want on the pulldown.
  • StumbleUpon - Stumbling is just a ton of fun and this toolbar makes it incredibly easy. Check out my Social Survey article about StumbleUpon if your unfamiliar with this site. With this toolbar it’s incredibly easy to surf the web, vote on pages, and share them with friends.
  • Zotero - This interesting toolbar quasi fits into this category but is something that is definitely worth inclusion. This toolbar help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. That’s right a toolbar that will help you cite and do research on the web. Definitely a researcher or librarian’s best friend! Really the features of this toolbar are so many and varied you just need to check it out.

firefox crop circle Firefox Add ons for Higher Education Web

Web Developer Toolbars

  • Web Developer Toolbar - This is definitely my favorite toolbar for site development. There are more features than can be menioned, but some of my favorite are instant access to speed reports, validate HTML, and disable all CSS. Those mentioned are also great SEO tools. You can also edit CSS and code live on the page!
  • Firebug - Firebug is similar to Web Developer. I know a lot of individuals who swear by this add-on, but I personally think it’s a bigger memory hog than web developer and it has issues with Gmail. Otherwise it’s definitely a great compliment for Web Developer.
  • FireShot - FireShot allows you to quickly and easily take screenshots of your browser window. You can even capture an image of the entire page even if it scrolls off the screen. It also has a photo editor, but usually I prefer to open the files in Photoshop to edit.

SEO Toolbars

  • SEO Quake - SEO Quake provides so much information that it is easy to get overwhelmed. It provides instant information about PageRank, backlinks, Alexa Rank, site age, Whois, and much more. There is even a version for Internet Explorer.
  • RankChecker - This relatively new add-on is a ton of fun. Combining it with keyword data pulled from Google Analytics or other tools you can easily and quickly know exactly where your site stands in the SERPs for certain keywords across multiple search engines.
  • SEO Link Analysis - This fun little add-on gives you a wealth of additional information when you’re inside Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo! Site Explorer, or Microsoft Webmaster Portal about the links to your site. It provides PageRank, linktext, and nofollow information about links to your website. A little limited, but it is great for exactly what it does.
  • SEO for Firefox - An add-on that provides extensive information about a site within SERPs. Despite that what I like most about this tool is it’s quick access to plenty of other research tools including keyword, traffic estimator and trends.

Other Great Add-ons

  • Video DownloadHelper - This add-on allows you to download videos from sites like YouTube. It also enables you to encode the downloaded video into any format you could desire. Do I really need to describe any more?
  • WASP - WASP will show you which analytics tracking code, if any, is on a page. Can be useful if don’t have master templates and trying to track down pages without code. Also kind of neat for when your surfing the web to know what tracking your favorite sites are using.
  • Greasemonkey - It’s not so much that this add-on does anything it’s simply the framework to run bits of javascript on sites throughout the web. To give you a hilarious example take a peak at this video. Maybe you saw it a while back over on the Case Web Development Blog, but it’s definitely worth watching again.

So that is my list of Firefox Add-ons. I know everyone has their own list, so what are your favorite add-ons that you can’t get by without?  Oh and be warned that the more add-ons that you install the more bogged down Firefox will become.  Sometimes you don’t want every add-on enabled why you perform basic search.

Finally I don’t pretend to be the final word. Here are some other lists of Top Add-ons from other power Firefox users.

  • How did I get by before Firefox? - fellow BlogHighEd blogger Heidi Cool recently gives us picks
  • Firefox Add-Ons I Use - Web ManagerRichwalsky over at HighEdWebTech continues Heidi’s list
  • The Top 12 SEO Firefox Extensions
  • 16 Must-Have Firefox Add-ons

25 Responses to “Firefox Add-ons for Higher Education Web”

  1. Says:

    You should consider adding the Mozilla/Firefox Accessibility Extension from the University of Illinois (, Yellowpipe’s Lynx Viewer ( and the LORI (Life-Of-Request Info) extension ( to your list of Web Developer Add-ons.

  2. Says:

    Hey Kyle. Glad to see my list of The Top 12 SEO Firefox Extensions could help you out. I’m also excited to try out a few of the other extensions on your list that I haven’t used before, specifically Fireshot and SEO Link Analysis.

    You mention at the end of your post that the more extensions you have, the slower Firefox will be. This is absolutely true, and one of the ways I’ve found to get around this is to set up 2 separate Firefox profiles, one for casual browsing and one for SEO/web development work. To ease the transition between profiles I use an (unverified, sadly) extension called ProfileSwitcher.

    You can find the link for that here

  3. Says:

    Hah, and I forgot the close bracket on my last link in my comment…feel free to edit that and make it pretty. That’s what I get for trying to comment too fast and not checking my HTML.

    Cheers! :)

  4. Says:

    I currently use Pearl Crescent Page Saver Basic to grab full page screenshots in Firefox, but FireShot definitely looks more robust!

    Some of my other fave Firefox add-ons not already mentioned, with the most vital to my workday asterisked:

    Add to Netvibes:

    **Clippings (picture copying and pasting from a text file via an organizable right-click context menu - I could never keep up with e-mail responses without this one! has export and import functions.):

    Extended Copy Menu 1.5 (handy for copying text as plain text):

    Fetch Text URL (handy for navigating to non-hyperlinked URLs, or bypassing tracking for e-mail newsletters that include visible urls):

    FoxyTunes (note that it can be dragged to the menu bar):

    **IE View Lite (useful within a Windows instance; there is something similar for switching to Safari rendering for a Firefox tab, as well): (There might be a better add-on for this functionality - I haven’t searched in a while. One that could grab different versions of IE installed would be useful.)

    Morning Coffee (if you want to open certain Web sites in tabs on Tuesdays, for instance, with less thought than simply having those tabs open, selecting “Bookmark All Tabs” and saving the bookmark as “Tuesday”):

    **Tab Mix Plus (better tab control. highly customizable, and settings can be exported and imported):

    I currently have MeasureIt (pixel ruler) and ColorZilla (color picker) disabled, and only enable them on the rare times I use them.

    Of course the ability to add search engines is another big plus, and perhaps fodder for another post.

  5. Says:

    @Gilzow - great suggestions. I’ll definitely give those a shot!

    @Founder- I did see in your post that you mentioned ProfileSwitcher but hadn’t tested it or used it so didn’t add it. I’ll look into it and I did fix the link. :)

  6. Says:

    I was recently using FireShot to capture screens for a presentation. Simple. And elegant. Great tool. Great tip.

  7. Says:

    Only this week have I had problems with Add-ons for Firefox, specifically the official Yahoo! Delicious Add-on.

    That said, I would still recommend it to anyone who’s an avid social bookmarker like I am…

  8. Says:

    Great list! I am going to have to give a bunch of these a try.

  9. Says:

    Interesting discussion over at Lifehacker about the dwindling list of “top” Firefox 3-compatible extensions. By the nature of the topic, these are particularly tech-savvy users, so the comments are insightful.

    All In One Sidbar was mentioned multiple times, so I plan to check that one out.

  10. Says:

    Good to know, thanks for the update Rob. I’m so ready for FF3. FF2 continues to seem like it’s getting slower and slower… but maybe that’s because of all these crazy add-ons i’ve got installed. :)

  11. Says:

    The add-ons do seem to bog things down a bit. Plus there is the syndrome of browser as OS - one tab crashes, everything crashes.

    FF3RC1 has been very stable for me, though one obscure Web-based program I use doesn’t play nice with it at this point.

    And if you are itching to try out FF3 but are dependent on some “incompatible” add-ons, you can either override the incompatibility check within Firefox (at which point the add-ons will work) or check the add-on coder’s own site for the latest development build, which is typically compatible

    IE8 Beta 1 has crashed on me a couple times, but it is a beta 1, so that tends to happen more. I have that running on a personal computer and not a work computer.

    Both offer improvements over previous versions, imho.

    IE8s prominent displaying of a Web site’s main domain in the address bar is interesting. For some colleges that use outside vendors for FAQs, personalized Web sites, discussion forums, etc., it looks more obvious that the student isn’t on the college’s Web site.

  12. Says:

    I don’t need some fancy-schmancy toolbar to tell me about SEO. The only SEO related addon I have is SearchStatus which displays pagerank, alexa rank, and compete rank.

  13. Says:

    I agree - toolbars aren’t going to give you a competitive edge - they are meant to be very quick top level resources.

  14. Says:

    Toolbars are great to have when looking for something quick. I especially like the benefits of the quick back link checkers and other similar tools.

  15. Says:

    One of my new faves: Read It Later

  16. Says:

    I need only news about health and bank today!,

  17. Says:

    If you do not need problem with health - call me today.,

  18. Says:

    What new ways are people utilizing other toolbars these days?

  19. Says:

    Toolbars are great to have when looking for something quick. I especially like the benefits of the quick back link checkers and other similar tools.

  20. Says:

    Knowing about theses extensions makes my life easier. Thanks for the information.

  21. Says:

    great list.Sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing about it.

  22. Says:

    I’ve found to get around this is to set up 2 separate Firefox profiles, one for casual browsing and one for SEO/web development work. To ease the transition between profiles I use an (unverified, sadly) extension called ProfileSwitcher.

  23. Says:

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