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All Things Appy: 5 Best Firefox Add-ons for Research

By Patrick Nelson
Jan 4, 2013 5:00 AM PT

Welcome to All Things Appy, TechNewsWorld's analysis of the best apps living on our devices today.

All Things Appy: 5 Best Firefox Add-ons for Research

Before we became used to the slew of apps cluttering up our smarthones, desktop browser environments like Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox created "add-ons" and "extensions" -- the precursors of apps.

For all intents and purposes, Firefox add-ons are app-like helpers, and using them is a good way to streamline your browser without having to perform a cumbersome favorites or bookmarks browse.

Many Firefox add-ons are free -- you can usually donate to the developer if you wish.

About the Platform

Add-ons -- also called "Extensions," "Appearances" and "Plugins" -- can be downloaded from the Add-ons menu item in Firefox.

Perform a search for the module that you need in the Search text box within the Add- ons page, or look for the "browse all add-ons" link and select it. Click on the add-on you want, allow it to install, and then restart Firefox.

No. 1: Speed Dial - Visual Bookmarks


Speed Dial has four stars out of five from 1,026 user reviews in Firefox's Add-ons library. The add-on has a total of 712,891 users.

Josep del Rio's Speed Dial provides visual tile-like direct access buttons to your most visited websites when you open a new window or tab.

firefox speed dial

TechNewsWorld prefers Speed Dial for favorites to the stock website visualizations that appear when opening new windows or tabs partly because, unlike stock, you can customize Speed Dial's links, including adding tile-like images for buttons.

Features include coloring the groups of buttons, import/export and backup.

No. 2: Feedly - RSS Reader

ff speed dial

Feedly has five stars out of five from 1,616 user reviews in Firefox's Add-ons library. The add-on has a total of 61,991users.

Feedly syncs with your RSS news feeds and rehashes them into a rather elegant, sparse- looking magazine format complete with pulled images. It's perfect for Google Reader users who fancy a refresh of tired, text-based headers.

Feedly options include mosaic, Pulse-like pages, and the ability to go straight to Web content rather than a second Feedly tier when opening the article. Nice stuff.

No. 3: Twitbin - In-browser Twitter Feed


Twitbin has three stars out of five from 62 user reviews in Firefox's Add-ons library. The add-on has a total of 6,464 users.

Twitbin uses the left- or right-hand sidebar position to display your Twitter feed, thus incorporating Twitter into your browser real estate. New tweet advisories are displayed, and the refresh rate is customizable from one minute to 10 minutes.

However, you still have to click on a refresh button to see the actual text, which is annoying, but it's no different from any other automatically refreshing Twitter client.

Even so, Twitbin provides quicker assimilation of tweets than when using a unique Twitter client. It also provides send, share and upload images functions.

No. 4: Pocket - Page Saver

Pocket has four stars out of five from 746 user reviews in Firefox's Add-ons library. The add-on has a total of 317,836 users.

Pocket lets you save pages for viewing later. Say you're perusing Web pages and something catches your eye, but you don't have the time to finish reading -- or you're simply collecting material to read later, when commuting, for example.

Pocket archives the page and text for you, a bit like a bookmark or a favorite.

Added bonus: You can sync material saved within Firefox cross-platform, because Pocket apps are available for iOS and Android too.

No. 5: AutoPager - Auto Next Page Loader

AutoPager has four stars out of five from 362 user reviews in Firefox's Add-ons library. The add-on has a total of 220,985 users.

Autopager automatically loads the next page in a series. You know that "Next" click that you have to make to read long stories, or see long Google search results pages. Well, Autopager loads the page for you as you scroll down.

It's slightly cumbersome in that it needs page scripts to work, which is why it's a runner-up. However, it's great for infinite one-page Google search results, and that alone puts it in the top five Firefox research-friendly apps.

Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.

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