I’ve been a happy user of Firefox for the past two decades since just before they changed their name from Firebird. Due to some ups and downs in usability and performance I did briefly entertain Opera and Chromium on the side for specific purposes but Firefox has been my constant primary browser. I never really installed extensions or was much of a power user until several years back when I started taking my browsing experience more seriously. For the good of anybody else interested I thought I’d document some of the extensions that I’ve discovered that others might find helpful. Since there are boatloads of articles about things like privacy tools, ad blockers, and paywall removers I figured I’d focus more on productivity-oriented tools. To that end here are my five favorite Firefox extensions.
LeechBlock is a content blocker that allows you to specify blocklists that only go into force after a certain time spent on violating sites. This means that you can, for instance, enforce a rule that allows you to only watch a half hour of YouTube after 7PM on weekdays. You can also use it to outright block various sites. In this vein I maintain both a “soft” block list for sites that I want to limit consumption of and a “hard” block list for sites that I never want to visit again. It’s an invaluable tool that saves me from “bored browsing” and keeps me on-track while surfing for things that I actually care about.
Remove YouTube Suggestions does exactly what it says on the box. In addition to blocking YouTube suggestions it can also remove front-page video suggestions, comments, and more. This has the two-pronged effect of saving your sanity from “X be like”, “I was born in the wrong generation because I like Y”, and “when you have to Z but your P doesn’t Q”-type comments and saving your attention from being monopolized by a spate of “similar” videos recommended by a machine learning model. Everybody’s a winner!
Limit Tabs is another sublimely-named extension that stops you from having too many tabs open in a single window. I’ve gotten better about this over the years but I still reflexively middle-click hyperlinks to open them in a new tab and this leads to tab bloat. I find that setting a maximum of 10 tabs for a given window helps to prevent this behavior and enforce the use of multiple windows as a sort of “tab classification” system - I’ll typically have a single window open for Trello, email, and the essentials with a new window for each dedicated task I’m pursuing at that time (wasting time on Hacker News or reading about vintage computing, lyrics and guitar tablature, finance, etc). This works a lot better than having 157 tabs in a single window and losing unsaving work when you restart your machine or Firefox OOMs 😛.
Cookie AutoDelete is yet another aptly-named plugin that - you guessed it - automatically deletes cookies. It can be configured to whitelist specific sites and delete other types of persistent content too (IndexedDB, Cache, Local Storage, Service Workers, etc). I have it configured to silently nuke everything from a site 15 seconds after I close the tab so that I don’t have to deal with weird functionality on sites that change their contents based on my previous actions or service workers using up disk and CPU time.
Web Archives lets you view cached and archived versions of a page across multiple providers like
archive.is and The Wayback Machine. I’ll occasionally read old posts that link to something that doesn’t exist anymore and this is a lifesaver… think finding obscure technical documentation for a video game system that somebody posted on their ISP’s web server two decades ago.