Nov 28, 2008

Customizing Firefox with add-ons

Firefox add-ons are small pieces of software that add new features or functionality to your installation of Firefox. Add-ons can augment Firefox with new search engines, foreign-language dictionaries, or change the visual appearance of Firefox. Through add-ons, you can customize Firefox to meet your needs and tastes.

This article covers the two types of add-ons: extensions and themes.

  • Extensions provide additional functionality to the Firefox application.
  • Themes change the visual appearance of Firefox.

Acquiring add-ons

You can acquire new extensions and themes through Firefox itself:

  1. At the top of the Firefox window, click the Tools menu and select Add-ons to open the Add-ons window.
  2. In the Add-ons dialog, the list of currently installed extensions is displayed.
    • By default, Firefox includes a single extension. The Talkback extension enables you to send messages about your experience using Firefox to its team of developers.
    • To see the list of available themes, click the Themes tab. Themes are described in detail later.
  3. To acquire new extensions, click Get Extensions.
  4. The Firefox extensions page is displayed. Through this page, you can access a very large collection of extensions and other items available for download.

Finding and installing add-ons

  1. In the Firefox Add-ons page, you can find new add-ons in the following ways:


    1. By default, the page displays the available Firefox extensions. To search for different types of add-ons, click one of the following links in the left navigation bar:
      • Themes change the appearance of Firefox. They are discussed below.
      • Dictionaries allow you to check your spelling in additional languages.
      • Search Plugins allows you to add more search engines to the search bar.
    2. A list of recommended add-ons is available. To see more click View All.
    3. To browse a category of extensions, select the category name under the Category Panel on the left side.
    4. To search for an add-on by name, type the name in the search box. Then, click Enter.
    5. A list of most popular add-ons is available. To see more click View All.
  2. To begin installing an add-on, click its name on the page. Detailed information on the add-on is displayed.
    • Firefox automatically verifies add-ons compatible with your version. If the button is grayed out, the add-on is not compatible with your version.
  3. To begin installing the add-on, click the green Add to Firefox button.


    • You may be required to review and accept the End User License Agreement. To continue with the installation, click Accept and Install.
  4. After the installation is complete, you must restart Firefox to enable the add-on. To restart, click Restart Firefox at the bottom of the Add-ons window.
  5. When Firefox restarts, the installed add-on is displayed with previously installed ones.

Managing extensions

Extensions add new functionality to Firefox and can appear in different locations on the Firefox screen. For example, new toolbars appear at the top of the Firefox window.

  • New buttons or functions may be hidden initially.

After you have downloaded and installed Firefox extensions, you can manage them through the Add-ons window.


Note: You can download and install any number of Firefox extensions. However, each installed extension requires additional memory. If you install too many extensions, Firefox performance may be impacted.
  1. To manage your extensions, click the Tools menu, and select Add-ons.
  2. In the Add-ons window, select the Extensions panel, if it is not already selected. The set of installed extensions is displayed.


  • To temporarily disable an extension, select the extensions, then click Disable. When Firefox is restarted, this extension is disabled.
  • To re-enable a disabled extension, select the disabled extension, and click Enable.

Checking for extension updates

To check for extension updates, select the Extensions panel, at the top of the Add-ons window. Then, click Find Updates at the bottom. Firefox checks to see if updates to the extensions are available.

Extension options

If an extension offers configurable options, you can review and change them by selecting the extension, then clicking Options.

In the Options screen for the extension, you can change options for the extension.


Note: After you install an extension, you should review its available options, as they may affect how the extension functions.

Managing themes

Themes change the visual appearance of Firefox. They can be found and installed through the Add-ons window.


Note: A theme affects the visual appearance of every screen and dialog in Firefox.
  1. At the top of the Firefox window, click the Tools menu, and select Add-ons to open the Add-ons window.
  2. In the Add-ons window, click the Themes tab.
  3. When Firefox is installed, a single default theme is included.
  4. You can look for themes and other add-ons in the Add-ons page. When the installation is complete, the new theme is displayed in Installation section of the Add-on window.
  5. Click the Themes tab, and select the new theme.
  6. Click the Use Theme button, to make Firefox switch to that theme, when installation is complete.
  7. Click the Installation tab.
  8. Click the Restart Firefox button, at the bottom of the Add-ons window, to complete the installation.

Using themes

To use a theme, open the Add-ons window, by clicking on the Tools menu, at the top of the Firefox window, and selecting Add-ons. Click the Themes tab, then select the theme you want to use. Then, click Use Theme. To complete the switch, you need to close Firefox, and start it again. When Firefox restarts, the new theme is in use.

 
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