By Heather Johnson
Firefox has recently released a campus edition of its popular open source software that school and lab administrators can install on their computers. While this new version has increased functionality there’s no reason students can’t create their own version of Firefox that’s loaded with tons of tools to make it easier to do everything from finding research materials to checking the score of the latest college basketball game. Here are numerous extensions from Firefox that can help make it an indispensable tool for any college student, young or old.
Much of students’ library research nowadays takes place online, so make sure you’re making it as easy on yourself as possible with these extensions.
- Zotero: This research tool will help you collect, organize and appropriately cite any sources you find over the Web. You’ll no longer have to switch between windows — you can do your work right in your browser window.
- BetterSearch: Enhance your search engine experience with this extension. It adds previews as well as options to open search results in a new tab or window to almost all major search engines including Google, Yahoo, Ask.com and more, making it easier to find what you’re looking for.
- Clusty Toolbar: Don’t search harder for more information, search smarter. This toolbar will allow you to cluster search results from several sites, get dictionary and encyclopedia definitions, and many other useful features.
- Snap Links: Sometimes during a search, more than one site will come up that looks promising. With this tool you can open these sites all at once in different tabs. Simply click and drag over all the sites you want to open and it will take care of the rest.
- ScrapBook: If you’re collecting research for a project or just doing some online comparison shopping, this can be a valuable tool. It allows you to save and organize websites and parts of websites, and also take notes on them while keeping everything in one easily accessible place.
- Read It Later: One way to keep on task or to accelerate research is to not read every interesting page you come across. This tool for Firefox allows you to save these tidbits for later when you have more time and to store them in an easy-to-find-and-manage menu in your browser.
- Googlepedia: Get both Google search results and Wikipedia entries with this extension. It splits the search in half and gives you (hopefully) more interesting and useful information.
- Customize Google: This extension allows you to easily move from your Google search results to Yahoo, Ask.com, Technorati, Wikipedia and more. It makes switching through search engines much quicker and easier.
- WorldCat Search: Quickly find a book or download a video with this great search plug-in. WorldCat will find resources at the libraries nearest you so you can quickly find research materials.
- Yoono: Enhance your browsing with the features of Yoono. It will automatically suggest other sites it thinks you’ll like and allow you to save and share your articles and websites.
- Bookstack: This extension allows you to add sites to a file to read later. It’s easy to use and can be a great way to keep track of information you want to read but just don’t have the time to.
- eReader: This extension makes it easy to read ebooks right in your Firefox browser, helping you to take advantage of free online materials from Google and sites like Project Gutenberg.
Keep yourself organized and jot down any important thoughts with these helpful Firefox tools.
- AutoCopy: While hitting ctrl+c isn’t exactly hard work, you can make copying information from the Web even easier with this extension. Simply highlight the text and it’s automatically put on the clipboard so you can paste it in your word processor, email or anything else.
- Copy URL+: If you’re doing research on the Web, you can save the addresses of relevant sites and a little information about them so it’s easy to know where to return to later if you need to go back over the material.
- Mystickies: Treat the Web like your own personal notebook with this sticky note application. You’ll be able to post notes to yourself on any site and keep them organized with this extension.
- Clipmarks: Take virtual scissors to web pages with this useful extension. It allows users to easily capture content they find interesting or important, clip it and share it with others or save it for later use.
- Sketcher: Sketcher will allow you to make comments on webpages in graphic form through doodles you create, save and link. It can be a great note taking tool for those who are more visual learners.
- NoteFish: Clip interesting information from webpages, take notes on it and email it to yourself with this versatile Firefox extension.
- WiredMarker: Highlight your Web research just like you would your own textbooks with this extension. It allows you to use multiple colors to highlight text and will save your highlights each time you revisit the page.
Need a quick answer to a question? These tools can help solve your reference needs right from Firefox.
- Answers: Ever wanted to know what a word in something you were reading meant or more information about it but didn’t want to have to open up a new tab to search through the dictionary or encyclopedia? Now you don’t have to, simply select the word you want and this extension will bring up a floating window with more information on the topic from Answers.com.
- gTranslate: Sometimes during the course of research, sources will come up that would be incredibly useful — if only they weren’t in a foreign language. You can help solve this problem with this simple add-on tool which allows you to highlight text and get translations through Google’s translator.
- Dictionary Search: Take the mystery out of those big words with this extension that allows you to simply highlight a word and get a definition instantly without even leaving the page you’re browsing.
- HyperWords: This extension will allow you to turn virtually any word you come across into a hyperlink. Simply highlight a word and you’ll be able to look it up in the dictionary or thesaurus, or find the item to buy through an online retailer.
- Converter: Since the United States uses a different system of measurement from virtually every country in the world, it can often be confusing to use resources that use metric measurements. This extension will allow you to easily convert them as well as adjust for different time zones.
Improve your overall browsing experience with these awesome extensions.
- Adblock Plus: Speed up and streamline your browsing with this extension. It blocks annoying ads, banners and other webpage junk that can often take forever to download, reducing potential distractions and speeding up your work.
- gMapIt!: Make finding any place easier with a little help from your browser. Simply highlight any address, and this extension will give you a map or directions through gMaps.
- Nuke Anything Enhanced: Who hasn’t been annoyed by ads and banners that show up when you’re trying to print something and waste both paper and ink — not to mention your time. Nix these items with this extension, which allows you to hide virtually any part of a webpage you’re not interested in.
- URL Fixer: Who hasn’t typed in a .com wrong now and then? This extension fixes the most common URL typing blunders, helping you bring up the right site without seeing an error message.
- IE Tab: Firefox is a great browser, but unfortunately not every website will work with it. This extension allows you to open an instance of Internet Explorer within Firefox so you can use both without having to switch between windows.
- Online Bookmark Manager: With many students switching between their own computers and those in computer labs, keeping up with their bookmarks can be tricky. This program makes it easy, with online access to all your Firefox bookmarks from any computer you use, no synchronization required.
- WebMail Notifier: Get notifications from your webmail right in your browser with this handy extension. It works with a variety of online mail programs to make it easy to know when you have new mail.
- LinkedIn: While you might not be a professional yet, it doesn’t hurt to start early with networking so you can get a job once you graduate. This plug-in will make it easier to build connections right from your browser using the popular online tool LinkedIn.
- Book Burro: Book Burro senses when you are looking at a book online and will give you the option via a small panel in the corner of finding bargains on this book online. It can be a big help when it comes time to buy new books for classes in finding the best deals out there.
- Chipmark: This open source tool allows users to bring their bookmarks with them on multiple computers. It is a Firefox extension, but allows users to access their bookmarks from IE as well, and to easily share and email links to others.
- ChartLet: If your major requires that you work with numbers, this extension might be of interest to you. It captures information over time and uses these figure to generate helpful and informative charts.
Managing time is a big deal when you’re a college student with a million things to do, so take advantage of these time saving and productivityboosting extensions.
- Toodledo: Students using the to-do list program Toodledo to keep track of their assignments, projects, work schedules and personal lives will be able to add tasks and manage their items more easily with this extension, which adds a drop down menu right to the browser.
- Reminder Fox: With so much going on it can be easy to forget important things like birthdays, upcoming tests and appointments. ReminderFox will help keep you on task with pop up reminders in your browser of things you want to remember.
- LeechBlock: Having trouble staying away from those LOLcats? This extension allows you to block access to certain time-wasting sites that can distract you when you’re supposed to be working.
- Meetimer: Help yourself avoid your tendency to procrastinate with this productivity tool. It logs where you spend your browsing time each day, helping you see just how much time you’re wasting and helping you to stay more focused and on task.
- Invisibility Cloak: Block out all the sites that help you waste time when you should be studying with this extension. Simply enter in your most commonly visited time wasters and they’ll be blocked from you until you’re done with your work.
- BlueOrganizer: BlueOrganizer makes Web browsing a smart and efficient experience. It will look up addresses, save items to your Amazon wish list, add movies to your Netflix queue and much more, making everything faster and easier on you.
- InFormEnter: Stop wasting time filling out forms, and install this extension instead. Instead of you filling out each line, a small box will pop up allowing you to choose what will go in.
- Session Manager: If you’re prone to opening the same sites every morning when you turn your computer on, you can save time by using the Session Manager extension. You can save a particular session and have it open at startup or enjoy other features that enable you to reopen accidentally closed tabs or save research sessions.
- TimeTracker: Keep track of your browsing time with this helpful extension. It will tell you how long you’ve been on Firefox each day and on which sites you tend to spend the most time.
College isn’t just about work, you should have fun too. These extensions make it easy to keep in touch with friends and manage entertainment media.
- StumbleUpon: StumbleUpon is a useful tool that lets you mark websites you like, save information for later and find webpages that other users have marked as interesting. It can be a fun way to find new sites or to find related research topics and information.
- FoxyTunes: With this extension, you’ll be able to control your music without ever having to leave your browser. The extension embeds controls right into the browser bar so you won’t be too distracted when you have to skip a song you don’t want to hear or change CDs.
- TwitterFox: If you’re into playing around with Twitter to keep your friends up to date on what you’re doing, you can now Twitter directly from Firefox with the TwitterFox plug-in. With just a click, you can type in a new message, talk with friends and more.
- RUWT? Sports Toolbar: Get instant updates on your college team with this useful extension. A ticker bar will let you know the play-by-play, when games are on TV, and the final score so you can study while keeping up with your favorite team at the same time.
- PicLens: Whether you’re looking at photos of last weekend’s drunken debauchery or for your next art history assignment, the PicLens extension can make it a much more enjoyable experience. It transforms your browser into a 3-D photo wall allowing you to zoom, click and drag photos easily in a slick format.
- Facebook Toolbar: Integrate your Facebook page into your browser with this helpful extension. You’ll be able to search, get notifications, share content and keep in touch with friends right from Firefox.
- ShareThis: ShareThis makes it easy to share Web content with your friends. You can even create MySpace or Facebook postings through it or keep your address book organized.