Internet Explorer is still the leader among Web browsers with almost 80 percent of the market, but the popularity of the free Mozilla Firefox browser is growing. According to Web analysis firm OneStat.com, U.S. usage of Firefox is around 16 percent, making it the number two browser in the country. As of August 2006, Download.com reports 1,775,537 downloads of Firefox from their site alone.
Why is interest in Firefox heating up? First, it’s extremely effective at blocking viruses, spyware, and pop-up ads and isn’t as vulnerable to attacks as Internet Explorer. Secondly, it offers advanced features like these — faster and more accurate display of complex websites, a built-in search bar, and tabbed browsing to open multiple web pages in a single window and quickly flip back and forth between them.
Firefox also makes it easy to enhance your browser experience by downloading small add-ons called extensions. Extensions can add anything from a simple toolbar button to a new innovative feature, allowing you to customize Firefox to better fit your particular browser needs. For example, if you want to speed up online research, the FlashGot extension lets you download one link, selected links, or all the links of a page together at the maximum speed with a single click.
Firefox offers more than a thousand extensions in categories including Bookmarks, Downloading, Site Navigation, Web Page Appearance, Privacy and Security, and Search Tools. Clearly, there’s something for everyone. If you’re just getting started, Firefox recommends you consider these popular extensions:
Get instant local weather conditions, alerts, radar in motion, satellite maps, and forecasts.
Hold down Alt (or Option on a Mac) and click on any word to get a quick definition, an up-to-the-minute reference, and more.
Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer
If you use Firefox on more than one computer, you’ll want Foxmarks. Install Foxmarks on each computer, and it will work silently in the background to keep your bookmarks synchronized.
Jeteye is free software that lets you easily drag and drop items you find with Firefox into containers called Jetpaks. Every Jetpak can then be viewed and shared from its own unique webpage on jeteye.com.
PayPal Send Money
PayPal’s Send Money extension provides a quick way to send money to anyone with an e-mail address. Enter the payment information and you’ll be brought to your PayPal login page to sign in and complete the payment.
Performancing for Firefox is a full-featured blog editor that sits right in your Firefox browser and lets you post to your blog easily. You can drag and drop formatted text from the page you happen to be browsing, and take notes as well as post to your blog.
Sage is a lightweight Web feed reader for Mozilla Firefox. It supports RSS, Atom, automatic feed discovery, and full integration with Firefox’s Live Bookmarks.
StumbleUpon helps you find great new peer-reviewed sites through a collaborative site sharing and review system.
Wizz RSS News Reader
RSS feeds provide faster access to the news by letting you quickly see summaries and deciding what you want to read.
For more information on Firefox extensions and to download your selections, visit one of these sites:
Be aware — you may get more than you bargained for when downloading extensions or plug-ins for your browser. Some less-than-reputable website operators have been known to also send along a virus, worm, or spyware. Downloading from well-known company sites won’t pose problems; it’s the smaller, unknown websites that require caution. Here’s how to protect yourself:
- Make sure your anti-virus and firewall software programs are updated and running. This should catch any hidden surprises when downloading files.
- Read end user reviews. Many software download websites, such as Download.com, provide forums for those who want to relate their experiences with specific software. If people are writing about problems with a website’s extensions or plug-ins, steer clear.
- Stay away from suspicious-looking websites. Disreputable websites of all types will lure you in with the promise of one thing, but deliver another. If the download page has links to unsavory content, such as porn or gambling, that might be what the website operator is really trying to promote.