7 Firefox Addons For Viewing The Web Your Way

The Web is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to … oops, wrong reference.

Still, the Web really is huge, and in addition to all the well-designed and accessible sites you use every day (right?), there are also some that make your eyes hurt. The vast majority of webpages are of course somewhere in between the two extremes of “perfection” and “brain damage” – some could use a better colour scheme, others lack intuitive navigation, and some are just too long or cluttered for your tastes. However, with a few client-side tweaks the experience can be much improved.

Here’s a list of Firefox extensions that let you view the Web your way.

1. Default FullZoom level

Default FullZoom Level screenshot

Default FullZoom level is a simple extension that lets you set a custom zoom level on a per-site basis. This can be very helpful if you some of your favourite sites look tiny and unreadable on a high-res display. You can choose whether to zoom all page elements or only text. The extension also displays the current zoom ratio in the status bar and includes a “Fit To Window” function.

2. Remove It Permanently

RIP lets you permanently hide content from webpages. Say there’s an annoying opt-in box, a distracting announcement rendered in huge red letters, or something else your trusty AdBlock can’t catch – Remove it Permanently will get rid of it. You only need to right-click the offending object and select “Remove this permanently” from the popup menu. You can also use the advanced configuration editor to specify the removed elements using XPath.

There’s also an alternative version of RIP that’s called Yet Another Remove It Permanently. YARIP introduces a few additional features like filtering content via regular expressions and white-listing. It’s not as stable as RIP, but some users prefer the YARIP’s interface.

3. Stylish

If zooming pages and hiding unwanted content isn’t enough flexibility for you, take a look at the Stylish extension. Basically, Stylish is like Greasemonkey for CSS – it gives you the ability to define user stylesheets and extensively customise the looks of any website. In addition to that, you can even tweak the Firefox UI itself with a custom stylesheet. And don’t worry if you don’t know much about CSS – you can find a lot of user-created styles in the userstyles.org catalogue.

4. HeadingsMap

HeadingsMap view of the "Creating Friendly AI" document

HeadingsMap generates an index of a web page using the heading elements (H1, H2, H3 and so on). HeadingsMap displays this index in a sidebar and enables you to quickly navigate to any portion of the document. The extension might also be of use to web designers as it will also display headings that have no contents and highlight heading elements that skip a level in the heading structure. Oh, and it even works with frame-based pages.

5. GreatSummary

GreatSummary popup menu

GreatSummary can create a short summary of any page. You only need to right-click anywhere on the page, click “Summarize this page” and select the number of sentences you want returned. The addon then opens a new tab containing the summary.

While this is a neat feature in theory, the summariser can yield less than perfect results in practice. For one, the generated summary comprises simply a bunch of sentences (extracted from the original text) that the algorithm judged as sufficiently “important”, without much internal coherence. Also, sometimes the summariser can get confused and include various non-content elements (i.e. menu titles and the like) in the summary.

6. Readability

Readability

Readability is a very clever script that can process a webpage and present it in a more readable format. It will hide any distracting page elements like ads and menus and apply a custom stylesheet to make the actual content look clean and crisp. You can choose between several styles (Newspaper, Novel, etc) and configure text size and margin width.

Oh, and I cheated a bit with this post’s headline – Readability isn’t an addon. It’s actually a bookmarklet, so it will work in most modern browsers and not just Firefox :)

7. AutoPager

AutoPager screenshot (click for a bigger version)

Of course, this list would be woefully incomplete without AutoPager. This addon will automatically load the next page of content (AJAX-style) when you reach the end of the current page, completely eliminating the need to constantly click “Next” to navigate a paged site. It works with most popular sites right out of the box and you can always add a custom configuration for new sites if need be.

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One Response to “7 Firefox Addons For Viewing The Web Your Way”

  1. K says:

    Wow – readability is awesome.

    The one thing I dislike about it is that it adds to the number of clicks I need to do, while I would rather see it maintain the important link structure of the website, so I can click around.

    Basically, I want something to totally whitewash the web for me. I have a ton of ad programs, ad muncher being the best and bproxy being second best, but nothing is perfect…yet.

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