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Turn FireFox 3 Into A Blogging Toolbox

FireFox3 LogoToday Jeff Chandler shares with us how FireFox 3 can be a great tool for bloggers.

If there is one thing that sets FireFox apart from any other web browser, it would have to be the third party support in the form of themes and extensions. There are so many extensions available for the browser, you can virtually do just about anything. As I become more entrenched as a blogger online, I’ve started to transform FireFox into more than just a browser,  it has become my ultimate blogging toolbox. The following twelve FireFox extensions will give you a head start on turning FireFox into your own personal blogging toolbox.

GbuttsMany Google Services In One – These days, it seems as though Google has a bazillion services. Having individual buttons for each service in FireFox would not only be cumbersome but it would also take up valuable screen real estate. Thankfully, there is an extension which enables access to all of the Google Services from one button called Gbutts. After installing this extension, you can configure which Google Services show up in the drop down menu, allowing you to only see the ones you actively use.

In Browser Feed Reader – I use FeedDemon as my stand-alone FeedReader of choice, but I also use one within FireFox called SageToo. I use this extension primarily to keep tabs on forums I am a member of. Since I need to have the browser open to reply to a forum post or start a new thread, having quick access to new posts/threads within the browser is a time saver versus reading the feeds in a stand alone feed reader.

ScribefirePublish Content Right From The BrowserScribeFire should be of no surprise for longtime readers of Problogger. ScribeFire enables me to have quick access to a blog editor. If the publishing system you use has XML-RPC support, you can configure ScribeFire to connect directly to your blog. I use ScribeFire to quickly publish drafts or full blown posts to my own blog, right from the browser.

See Ranks Without Researching – With the SearchStatus extension, you can easily see a particular URL’s Alexa Ranking as well as its Google Page Rank. Finding this information used to require researching the site by putting the URL through a Page Rank service.

SnagItTake Snapshots From The Browser – People are continuously surprised to find out that TechSmith has a FireFox extension (SnagIt Extension) available particularly for those who use their SnagIt software. This software makes it easy as pie to take screen captures. The extension takes things one step further by enabling access to the software through the browser. In my arsenal of tools, this extension is probably used the most as publishing how-to articles or reviews requires an abundant amount of screenshots.

Built In FTP Client – One of the reasons why I used Internet Explorer long after FireFox was released was because of the built in FTP client. Convenience of the client kept me from using alternatives. Once I discovered the FireFTP extension however, I really began to fall in love with FireFox. FireFTP adds an FTP client right into the browser which I have found to work better than any stand alone software alternative I have tried.

TinyURL CreatorEasy to Digest URLs – Thanks to services like Twitter which limits messages to 140 characters or less, we now have a myriad of services online which aims to shrink that mile long URL into something more manageable. Despite the other services that are available, I am been a big fan of TinyURL. So it should be no surprise then that I am recommending the TinyURL Creator. This extension can create tiny URLs from links, page links, and the text that is displayed in the address bar of the browser. On top of that, the TinyURLs that are created are automatically copied to your clipboard leaving you with the only step of pasting the link.

Tweeting From The Browser – Although Twhirl makes for an excellent stand alone application to handle your Twitter needs, having access to Twitter from within FireFox adds a convenience factor not to mention it is one less program running on your machine. When accessing Twitter from the browser, I recommend the  TwitKit extension. When activated, Twitter will load in a sidebar within FireFox with a list of the 10 latest tweets. I typically use TwitKit to publish quick thoughts or links without the distraction of being sucked into the endless stream of information that Twhirl provides. As an alternative, you can use TwitterBar.

Auto Fill FormsAuto Fill Forms -  Most blogs have a commenting section made up of four fields. Name, URL, Email and a text area for your comment. Instead of typing in your Name, URL, and Email over and over again, you can use the AutoFill Forms extension and configure it so that when you press a keyboard shortcut, these fields will automatically be filled in with the configured values. This extension has saved me a ton of time as well as keystrokes. One caveat though, this extension does not work on blogs who use a third party commenting system such as Disqus or CoComment.

Copy Only The Text – Ever copy a section of text from a website and then paste it into a Word Document or into a WYSIWYG Text editor? Generally, not only is the text pasted but so is the formatting. I know at times, this has driven me insane. Thankfully, there is an extension which prevents this from happening called Copy Plain Text. This extension adds an option to your right click context menu that will say, “Copy Plain Text” which does exactly what it advertises.

ShareaholicSharing Across Multiple Services With One Button – While I tend to stick with using the Delicious Bookmarks extension as that is the only bookmarking service I use, I figured that limiting the bookmarking services to just delicious would be premature. So, introducing Shareaholic. Shareaholic is similar to the GButts extension in that, users have access to multiple social bookmarking/networking sites from one icon.  After configuring the sites for which you have accounts with, sharing a site is as simple as a few clicks of the mouse. At least seventeen different services are supported which should be enough to get you started.

Relevancy In The Browser -  When you’re writing that next blog post, don’t bother spending time using Google to look up related posts, images, etc. Instead, use the Zemanta FireFox Extension. Zemanta presents images, links, articles, tags in a simple interface. It encourages re-use and linking to other content with as little effort as possible. In the world of blogging, being related is usually a good thing.

Conclusion:

These extensions are what make up my own toolbox, but why stop there? Perhaps you use an alternate extension to get a chore done versus the one I suggested. This is your chance to tell me which extensions you use to make you a more productive or efficient blogger. Based on your responses, there may be a follow up post filled with reader suggestions.

This guest post was written by Jeff Chandler who is currently a writer for Performancing, BloggerTalks and is the host of two podcasts, WordPress Weekly and Perfcast.

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Comments

  1. Mert Erkal says:

    Thanks Jeff. These extensions are great blogging tools unless Firefox 3 does not crash. So many bloggers are facing with this problem these days. Firefox 3 crashes in the middle of writing a blog posts. Maybe it is better to push them fix this problem before suggesting it as a blogging toolbox.

  2. Milinda says:

    According to my personal experience most of the times Firefox crashes are caused by the plugins not because of problems in Firefox.

  3. I can’t survive without Downloadhelper. It lets me capture video and audio.

  4. This post is very useful…
    I am definitely going to put some of these tools into action.

    My problem will is just knowing where to start. I guess I’ll just go down the list. I especially like the extensions for twitter and snagit.

    Thanks

  5. Javed says:

    Great post. Firefox is really useful because of its plugins support. Seems like every useful service out there has its tool extension with firefox to make it even more powerful and all in one. Very useful tips though. Some new for me. Thanks.

  6. Nicole says:

    Got something even better than Shareaholic – a new tool called Grouptivity that let’s readers e-mail content direct from their browser to their friends AND post to Twitter, FB, MySpace, Delicious (everything sent is nicely saved for later). Best thing going for shared content – they got a shout from The Industry Standard recently:

    http://www.thestandard.com/news/2008/09/25/grouptivity-bloggers-capture-users-and-turn-them-community-members

  7. The absolute greatest wealth of information regarding Firefox extensions and blogging/social networking, I’ve ever seen.

    2 Thumbs up!

  8. Thanks for the excellet post. I have been a firefox fan mainly because of the 3 party plugs and themes. After I found Firescribe, my posting really went up. That plugin by far the most blog inspiring tool I have come across.

    I have added a few more cool and useful plugins from your list.
    Years, ago I didn’t think so much about the time it takes to click, but when your clicking all day long, the less click and other redundant online tasks we all do online the better. 5 less clicks a day x 365 days = 1,825 x .5 sec per click 912.5 seconds / 60 = 15 mins and 20 of my life I reclamed using plugins. Woot!

    More plugs more efficiency, once you know their power

  9. Dennis Edell says:

    OK who can tel me how to turn that horrid address bar fiasco in FF3 back to look like it does in 2.whatever?

  10. I heartilly reccomend the aforementioned Firebug and Web Developer Toolbars. I also reccoemnd Split Browser which lets you split a single tab in to multiple frames each with a different website or add-on interface.

  11. Thank you for the article. I installed Firebox and I’m in love. I never understood the different until I tried it. Thank you for the list of plugging. They really help me be more efficient.

  12. panca says:

    very great tool….I will use firefox3 soon….thanks for information

  13. Karen Zara says:

    After reading this post, I installed three add-ons to my Firefox. One of them was the Autofill Forms, which I put to use for the very first time right on this page. It’s a great time saver indeed.

    Thank you for sharing these tips, Jeff.

  14. Good stuff indeed.

  15. Whateverebay says:

    fabulous info… it does help me a great deal to know what you and other pro bloggers are using. I think I added 5 from your list. Thanks

  16. Takumi86 says:

    WOW i like Scribfire and SnagIt, i found it very useful, thanks a lot for posting this!!

  17. kryptonet says:

    Dude,
    Great post. I have been blogging the hard way for way too long.

  18. Dfunda says:

    i too wrote post on firefox but not in so much depth

  19. A Firefox must-have add-on for bloggers who have multiple links in their posts is CoLT, which allows you to copy either a hyperlink’s text or both the link and the link’s text in a format you specify. This add-on has saved me countless hours when posting my news links!

  20. Vikas SN says:

    Great Post. I use an alternative extension for twitter called twitterfox. It is one the best extension I have ever seen.
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5081

  21. Mike Henry says:

    I cared about Firefox only when I could make a buck promoting it with Adsense. Firefox is a crutch for lazy web designers who can’t be bothered to cross platform design.

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