Firefox Extensions

Firefox Extensions – My Picks

Mozilla Firefox is a popular, free, open source web browser that is extremely configurable and easy to use. Somewhat bare out of the box however, its functionality is easily extended with add-ons (or extensions, if you prefer), of which there are many thousands.

With so many add-ons, most of which are free, the casual user might be tempted to install a large number of them, however i would highly recommend installing only the add-ons you really like or need since the potential to break things increases with every add-on that is installed. Not only can add-ons conflict with each other, they can also conflict with a native Firefox behavior.

Another issue that should be considered is unethical add-on developers that sometimes package unnecessary components which may include provisions for tracking your web activities or other behavior that is not relevant to the primary function of the add-on. Although Mozilla limits what a developer is allowed to do, user tracking is permitted and so i would highly recommend that you take the following precautions before installing any add-on:

  • Install the Extension Defender add-on (see below) to help protect against malicious extensions
  • Be very wary of any add-on which is packaged in the form of a tool-bar! Many/most of these contain 3rd party malware and/or spyware which is employed by the developer to monetize their add-on.
  • Be very wary of any add-on that has a privacy policy! Some of these are fine, but many are not, so be sure to read the privacy policy if one is available.
  • Check the user reviews to see how well an add-on is liked and be wary if it is rated at 3 or less stars, or not rated at all.
  • Even if the add-on is rated 4 or more stars, check the comments of the people that gave it the lowest rating to see if their gripe may be legitimate. Several very popular add-ons contain unwanted functionality such as user profiling/tracking including Abduction, a screen capture utility; Quick Locale Switcher, a language switcher; FasterFox Lite, a largely useless utility which claims to speed-up Firefox; BlockSite, a content blocker; Google’s Search By Image, a reverse image search utility, and others.
  • Visit the developer website if one is available and see what kind of content is there. Look for marketing hype and be wary of dot com domains. I would also suggest being weary of developers that provide neither a website where the add-on code is hosted nor an email address for support requests.

My favorite Firefox add-ons

Last updated: 30-APR-2016

There are a few very popular add-ons that are absent here, including NoScript and Adblock Plus (or Adblock Edge). While this may seem odd to some, the functionality offered by these extensions is largely covered by uBlock Origin and uMatrix. See my Firefox Configuration Guide for Privacy Freaks and Performance Buffs article for more information.

Legend
build Adds new functionality enhance Enhances existing functionality fix Fixes a problem or restores removed functionality privacy Privacy related security Security related
Name Description Notes/Caveats
Add to Search Barbuildenhance

Add to Search Bar

Add to Search Bar is an extension that makes it super easy to add almost any search engine to the Firefox Search Bar.
BetterPrivacy

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Better Privacy

There are several types of cookies and opting to block cookies from the Firefox privacy options will not block them all. Better Privacy can deal with another type of cookie called ‘Local Shared Objects’, or so-called Flash cookies which are set by the Adobe Flash Player plug-in. Better Privacy is a set-it-and-forget-it extension for most people, though there are options to protect specific LSO’s from being deleted. Since most popular video sites now use HTML5 to play video instead of the Adobe Flash Player plug-in, there is less of a need to have Flash installed at all. To help alleviate the need for Flash, and therefore Better Pivacy, see the EmbedUpdater add-on below. Note that this add-on is not required if you do not have the Flash plug-in installed I suppose it may be possible to break certain websites if they rely on Flash cookies, however i have not experienced this.
BetterStop

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BetterStop

BetterStop extends the functionality of the Esc key (or Stop button) with options to stop page loading and network activity. Very simple and transparent with no added toolbar icons or fuss.
Beyond Australis

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Beyond Australis

I use Beyond Australis only for its ability to update the text in the search bar when you switch tabs, which is a great feature when combined with the SearchWP add-on below. Others may find it more useful.
Classic Theme Restorer (Customize UI)

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Classic Theme Restorer

Not happy with the new Australis interface for Firefox? I don’t blame you, but if you want the latest gizmo’s and security fixes, you’re stuck with it. Unfortunately, yet another add-on is necessary to re-add the functionality that the wizards at Mozilla think you don’t need, and that add-on is Classic Theme Restorer. In addition to its many settings for manipulating the appearance of Firefox, CTR also makes is easy to disable some of the “features” which rely on 3rd party services, including the Hello and Pocket features.
Clean Links

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Clean Links

Clean Links is a great add-on that has replaced two of my former favorites — Redirect Cleaner (extinct) and PureURL — as it does the job of both. Clean Links can remove junk from URL’s, such as Google Analytics and other tracking mechanisms, as well as any other content you wish to remove. It also cleans redirect links so you are transported directly to your destination without having to go through a middleman. Lots of options make it nicely customizable without going over the top. If you do not like being tracked across the web, this add-on is a must-have. Basic knowledge of regular expressions is required to customize some options. This add-on can break some website functionality, but white-listing a domain is very easy.
Decentraleyes

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Decentraleyes

Decentraleyes is a privacy enhancing add-on that has the additional benefit of decreasing the load time for many web pages. It does this by loading several common JavaScript resources locally instead of having to fetch them from the web server. Could potentially break some web sites, though it is possible to white-list affected domains.
Easy Copy

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Easy Copy

The highly configurable Easy Copy add-on provides the ability to copy various content, such as hyperlink text, the page titles, excerpts and more, in various formats. For example it makes it easy to copy both a page title and link which is formatted for posting on a forum.
EmbedUpdater

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EmbedUpdater

While many popular video websites now serve video using the HTML5 format, many videos that are embedded on 3rd party sites do not. EmbedUpdater aims to solve that problem, thus reducing the need to have the ever-vulnerable Adobe Flash Player plug-in installed.
Exif Viewer

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Exif Viewer

Exif Viewer does nothing more than allow you to view the EXIF metadata stored in many JPEG images, including the camera and exposure info and, when available, the GPS location of the image.
Extension Defender

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Extension Defender

Extension Defender is an install-it-and-forget-it add-on which simply checks your extensions against a list of those that contain unwanted “features”, such as user tracking or malware.
FireFTP

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FireFTP

FireFTP ia a popular and reasonably well-rounded FTP client for Firefox. The developer also offers an SSH client as well. It has its quirks and i particularly don’t like the way you navigate local directories as it doesn’t display all the drives as Windows Explorer does, but rather only the last selected drive.
Flagfox

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Flagfox

Flagfox is a very cool, mufti-purpose extension. At its root it simply displays the flag of the country for the website you’re visiting in the Firefox address bar (now called the “Awesome Bar”), but left and right clicking on the icon reveals many more options. For instance, right clicking the icon opens a customizable context menu from which you can select things like doing a “WhoIs” look-up for the current domain, ping, trace route, geo-locate, W3C validation, translations and even shorten the URI in the address bar using services like bit.ly or Tiny. Many more options are available if you want and you can even add your own. Would be nice if the developer offered a tool-bar button instead of forcing the icon to display in the address bar only. If you choose to display the menu icons, they are not stored locally and have to be fetched the first time you open the menu
Greasemonkey

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Greasemonkey

The new Greasemonkey has replaced Scriptish (which replaced an earlier version of Greasemonkey) as my favorite user script extension. Greasemonkey is for running user created scripts which are typically used to change how a website functions and/or looks. Some of the most popular scripts allow you to download videos from sites like YouTube, or enhance the functionality of sites like Facebook and Google. You can even find some proof of concept scripts for defeating CAPTCHA’s, though they don’t appear to be fully baked just yet. For a selection of scripts that i personally find useful, see the bottom of this page. Installing user scripts is a security and stability risk! While this holds true for extensions as well, scripts are generally not scrutinized to the degree extensions are when download from Mozilla. Some sites that host scripts do not preform any security checks at all. Be sure to read the feedback from others, as well as the history of the developer, before installing any script.
Hide Caption Titlebar Plus

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Hide Caption Titlebar Plus

Hide Caption Titlebar Plus makes it easy to hide the Firefox window title bar, especially on Linux. It also offers new ways to accomplish other common tasks, as well as additional functionality.
Image Search Options

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Image Search Options

So you’re working on your website and you need an image. You find one you really like, but maybe the quality is crappy or it’s too small. What to do? Right click and use a reverse image search provider to find a better version of the same image (my personal favorite is TinEye). With Image Search Options, you can do a reverse image search using any or all of a large number of service providers and even add your own.
Link Alert

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Link Alert

Link Alert simply provides a visual indication of the target of a link when you hover your pointer over the link. Want to know if the link target is a PDF, EXE, audio or ZIP file? Want to know if the target is a new window, or a JavaScript link? Link Alert can do all this and more. You can also add your own alerts.
Menu Wizard

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Menu Wizard

Replacing the limited Menu Filter and outdated Menu Editor add-ons is Menu Wizard, a fantastic new add-on for removing, adding and rearranging the menu items for various Firefox context menus, which can become quite unruly after installing a bunch of extensions. It also handles the browser’s hot-keys.
NewsFox

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NewsFox

If you read a lot of syndicated feeds (RSS/ATOM) NewsFox is, in my opinion, the very best extension for reading and managing your feeds within Firefox, even given the caveats i have listed. It offers a lot of configuration options for reading, organizing and marking the status of feeds, and it has a clean, intuitive, customizable, 3 pane interface. NewsFox can briefly hang the Firefox GUI while checking feeds. I don’t like that you cannot create sub-folders within a folder.
OmniSidebar

buildenhance

OmniSidebar

Although i have used the more popular All-in-One Sidebar (AiOS) for quite a long time, i now prefer OmniSidebar. Although it is somewhat less polished in some areas and lacks a few small features of AiOS, it is feels lighter and works very well. You can also display two sidebars with it; one on the left of your display and another on the right. I especially like the sidebar switch that is used to toggle the opening and closing of the sidebar since it does not eat any screen real-estate.
Resurrect Pages

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Resurrect Pages

Page not found? Want to see what a web page looked like 10 years ago? Resurrect Pages can look up the current web page or hyperlink in one of several places that archive web content including the Internet Archive and Google Cache.
Save URL to Wayback Machine

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Save URL to Wayback Machine

Save URL to Wayback Machine makes it super easy to archive a webpage by storing it on either the Internet Archive or archive.is. Personally i prefer the latter since it does not respect the robots.txt standard which basically means that, once you archive something, it’s permanent.
ScrapBook

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ScrapBook X

A fork of the original ScrapBook extension, ScrapBook X is a very handy tool for storing scraps of text, web pages or images that you want to save. I use it often when i research subject matter, such as when i wrote the NPR article. You can import, combine and export your Scrap Book, including exporting as HTML. If you need more power, try Zotero.
Scroll Up Folder

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Scroll Up Folder

Replacing Smart Text / Smart Location is Scroll Up Folder, a fairly nice little extension which makes it super simple to navigate within a domain, going up or down the URL structure. For example, you can go from subdomain.example.com/dir/?=param1
to any of the following:
subdomain.example.com/dir/
subdomain.example.com
example.com
While there are several other add-ons that offer similar functionality, Smart Text is the only one i have found that a) does not require a toolbar/address bar button or context menu, b) segments URL parameters and c) handles sub-domains properly.
Search Site

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Search Site

Search Site is a great little extension that adds another icon in the right side of the Search Bar that, when clicked, will search only the current website for your search terms. Though there are others like it, i particularly like the way it’s integrated. If another icon is too much for you, you can hide it and just Ctrl+Enter instead.
SearchWP

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SearchWP

One of those brilliant little extensions whose functionality should be built-in in my opinion, SearchWP simply transforms the words in the Search Bar to clickable buttons. Clicking on a word button will take you to the point in the page where the word is located. It was particularly useful when installed along with the Conform SearchBox extension, however the latter is pretty broken and unmaintained.
Status-4-Evar

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Status-4-Evar

Mozilla’s continuing trend of dumbing down the browser to an infants level has, once again, pissed off a lot of people, this time when they removed the status bar. Status-4-Evar restores the absent functionality and adds some cool new toys as well. Even if you don’t use the status bar, Status-4-Evar is still very useful if you want to move browser elements, such as the pop-up of the hovered link address or network status, to another location.
uBlock

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uBlock Origin

uBlock Origin is a superior content filter that replaces all other content/ad blockers for me including Adblock Plus/Edge, NoScript, Policeman and several others. It is capable of using the same filtering lists as Adblock Plus/Edge as well as many more filter lists that the others cannot use. Two of the most welcome differences with uBlock Origin is that it does not slow the loading time for Firefox to any noticeable degree and it uses far less memory then the Adblock derivatives. Another major advantage over the other Adblock extensions is that it can block both 1st and 3rd party requests for images, scripts and frames. See my Firefox Configuration Guide for Privacy Freaks and Performance Buffs article for more information regarding uBlock Origin. Lastly, note that there are two versions of uBlock; uBlock and uBlock Origin. I highly recommend that you use uBlock Origin which is written by the original developer, Raymond Hill. As with any content filtering extension, uBlock Origin has the potential to break website functionality until it is configured correctly
uMatrix

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uMatrix

uMatrix, also by Raymond Hill, is similar to uBlock Origin in that it is also a content blocker, the main difference being that it offers more granular control over blocking various resources including cookies, CSS, images, plug-ins, scripts, XHR, frames and more. In my case i use uBlock Origin as an install-it-and-forget-it solution for blocking mostly ads and malware domains, while i use uMatrix to block the aforementioned resources. It is perfectly fine to use both together, but i would suggest reading my guide, Firefox Configuration Guide for Privacy Freaks and Performance Buffs, for information on how to configure them to get the most out of each one. As with any content filtering extension, umatrix has the potential to break website functionality until it is configured correctly

Greasemonkey scripts

Some Greasemonkey scripts which i find useful:

Linx Amender – Linx Amender is a powerful tool that is well-suited to those who are not quite able to write their own Greasemokey scripts, but are knowledgeable about HTML and CSS and want to alter the appearance and/or functionality of a websites. From the official description; “Linx Amender is a powerful script that allows you to alter the page content using regular expression and rules.” There is a lot you can do with this script, though i am currently using it only to make a few changes to various websites, including http to https redirects, manipulating YouTube, removing link redirections and tracking parameters and a couple other things. Among its other capabilities, Linx Amender allows you to write JS scripts, so you can use it to write your own extensions essentially, as well as replace other user scripts.

Google Hit Hider by Domain – This is a very nice and polished script that simply allows you to remove unwanted results from a Google search, or other search providers that use Google results, such as Startpage and DuckDuckGo.

ViewTube – One of the better scripts for dealing with YouTube stupidity, this script prevents auto-play and allows you to view videos in a variety of formats, including HTML5 or by using an external player such as VLC. ViewTube also makes it easy to download video files in all of the various formats and levels of quality it can detect. ViewTube works with many video sharing sites other than YouTube and can be extended to work with even more using the ViewTube+ add-on which you can download from the home page.

Troubleshooting add-on related issues

See my guide Firefox: Troubleshooting Add-On Issues.

Doing it without an add-on

Enhancing privacy and security

See my Firefox Configuration Guide for Privacy Freaks and Performance Buffs article for more information.

Smooth scrolling

See my Firefox Scroll Tweak tutorial for how to enable dynamic, silky smooth scrolling without using an extension.

Copying text without formatting

Sometimes you may want to copy text without the added HTML markup. While i am not aware of any way to do this without an extension, you can do the next best thing, which is paste the text without the formatting. To do this, simply paste using Ctrl+Shift+V instead of Ctrl+V. This works on Windows and Linux.

Giving back

If you like an add-on, or any other free software, please donate to the developer. Trust me when i tell you that most developers of free software usually receive nothing, or next to nothing for all their hours of hard work and the support they provide. Developers are usually very appreciative of a donation regardless of how small it may be.

12 thoughts on “Firefox Extensions – My Picks

    1. hi Shadylayman – funny you mention uBlock as i looked at it a short while ago, but too quickly to realize it’s advantages

      uBlock will certainly replace both Adblock Edge and Element Hiding Helper as it is a much more capable extension in every way

      thanks for mentioning it :)

      regarding HTTP UserAgent cleaner however, that one stays – it covers a whole lot more than just the user-agent string

  1. For some time now, I’ve been using these Greasemonkey scripts: Anti-Adblock Killer 8.1, AdsBypasser 5.24.0 (gets around the very annoying Ad.fly, Linkbucks, etc. pages), and Ad Host Cleaner 1.3.4 — the last version I could find of this. Its motto was “Bye Bye Download Accelerator/Manager”, and for awhile it thwarted file hosts that wanted to force you to accept an .Exe file version each time, rather than a standard .Rar piece of an archive. Of course, this is very bad practice, easily giving a free ride to malware or who knows what. However, Ad Host Cleaner seems to no longer be effective. I was hoping you might know of some later script or extension (for FireFox or for Chrome) that still provides control over this ?

    1. hi Gene
      i do not know of an extension for bypassing the garbage at download sites specifically, but i’m sure that some exist – go to the Mozilla Add-ons site and search for “skip” or “bypass” along with “downloads” – i know i have seen some and even used one at one point, but i cannot recall the names

      as for the anti-ad-block part of your question, i am sure there are other GM scripts available – you might also want to check out uBlock which offers this capability along with being a general content blocker – see the uBlock section of my article, Firefox Configuration Guide for Privacy Freaks and Performance Buffs

  2. Can you share your complete settings (screenshot would be easier) for Clean Links addon? I used to use your recommendation of Pure-URL with its default settings because I haven’t had the time or knowledge to configure it to find a good balance between privacy and usability and apparently Clean Links is better than Pure-URL in every way. Cheers.

    1. i have event delegation mode enabled – all of the rest is personal preference

      so event delegation mode means that links are not rewritten (cleaned) when the page loads, but rather only when you actually click on a link that needs to be rewritten

      i much prefer the other mode, but the developer says the code driving it is not maintained – the non-event mode rewrites links at page load time and therefore you can make use of the CSS (highlight style) to give a visual cue as to what links on the page were rewritten

      if you need help with anything else, let me know

  3. I noticed that you recommended Shim Storage, then it was replaced with HTTP UserAgent, which was eventually dropped because development was abandoned. Do you still use Shim Storage? If not, how do manage DOM storage (if you bother)? For example, uMatrix clears DOM storage of the webpage if the cookies was blocked, but if it isn’t the storage is created–do you simply let it persist throughout the session? I don’t feel comfortable with that (I have cookies and cache deleted every 30 minutes), but haven’t found a way to clear DOM storage throughout the session.

    I’m also interested in the specifics of your Clean Links settings–do you mind posting a full screenshot of it? I’m not technical or patient enough to personalize my own settings and it would help a lot if I can use your specific configuration and then remove or add things as needed if things break for me (couldn’t find much information of other people’s configurations because it doesn’t seem to be a popular addon). Have you configured it to at least replace the defaults of Pure-URL addon?

    1. hi Yuri – no, i don’t use Shim Storage and actually development has been resumed on HTTPUserAgent Cleaner (now http-useragent-cleaner – same developer) – although i think this extension is a worthwhile addition, there’s 3 reasons i’m no longer using it; 1), i wrote the English manual for it and found it very difficult (to put it mildly) to work with the dev because of the language barrier (he can barely understand/write EN) and his lack of helpfulness in providing answers to questions, 2), because it’s yet another extension that people will have to fiddle with when something breaks and 3), given the capability of uMatrix and the other add-ons listed here, i think it’s usefulness is somewhat limited, particularly as far as spoofing certain system and browser details – for example, spoofing your display/browser resolution will often render a page that will look horrible

      regarding uMatrix and DOM storage, i disallow cookies by default (as per the guide) and only allow them for the few domains i visit were they are actually needed – all of this is dumped when the browser exits as per my settings privacy.clearOnShutdown.* – so no, i don’t clear at regular intervals, but i will occasionally do a manual clear with the built-in history manager (selected are: cookies, cache, active logins, offline website data and site preferences)

      regarding Clean Links, the default settings are OK – the only real thing to be aware of is whether you enable Event Delegation Mode (it is enabled by default) – if you do not enable it, then you can take advantage of real-time link highlighting which i much prefer, however the dev has told me that the code driving this mode is not maintained, so i use the default mode (i’m trying to persuade him to work on this) – Redirect Watcher, HTTP Observer, CopyLink Controller and Link Tracking are also enabled

      Highlight Cleaned Links, Highlight Style and Replay Delay are all either of limited use or not used at all when running in Event Delegation Mode

      i think it is important to understand how to add strings to the Remove From Links regular expression, as well as what to look for in a URL that can be removed – unfortunately, learning regular expressions will present a lot more hassle than it’s worth for the average user and so i’d like to see a UI incorporated for building them where no knowledge of RegEx is necessary

      hope that answers your questions

  4. So to clarify, for the Clean Links addon, Event Delegation Mode is purely cosmetics and enabling/disabling it doesn’t affect the fact that links will always be cleaned when entered into the browser or clicked to go to that page? Is the only reason they want to disable it is that you want to see the clean version of links just because it looks nicer? Lastly, were you able to convert the garbage fields from Pure-URL addon to rules for Clean Links and if so, can you share them?

    Garbage fields from Pure-URL:

    utm_source, utm_medium, utm_term, utm_content, utm_campaign, utm_reader, utm_place, ga_source, ga_medium, ga_term, ga_content, ga_campaign, ga_place, yclid, openstat, feature@youtube.com, fb_action_ids, fb_action_types, fb_ref, fb_source, action_object_map, action_type_map, action_ref_map, ref@facebook.com, fref@facebook.com, hc_location@facebook.com, ref<ref_@imdb.com, src@addons.mozilla.org

    Thank you.

    1. actually the DOM traversal mode is cosmetic because it allows you to see what links are rewritten before clicking on them, but yes, basically you are right in that links are cleaned in either mode, however Event Delegation Mode is recommended by the dev

      i haven’t bothered incorporating the Pure URL garbage fields and, so far, haven’t seen a need to

  5. I last posted here on 6/6/15 (above). Awhile ago, when the switch to semi-mandatory Signed extensions came along, many developers (such as for the excellent ‘DownThemAll’) started making noises about dropping out entirely. However, it turned out that we users still had the option of circumventing this issue via a setting in About:Config.

    I don’t know how many of you are aware of it, but there is an even bigger sea change fast approaching, and it looks to be HUGE. Check out the following:

    http://www.zdnet.com/article/new-versions-of-firefox-prepare-for-its-biggest-change-ever/#comments-1e50e84a-27cb-4d26-b723-1f3fd3ffbe05

    and a discussion thread I started in response

    http://portableapps.com/node/54471

    So, if you didn’t know before now you do, and won’t be shocked when this occurs. A whole lot of our favorite extensions may simply be going away, for good. Some very major ones like Greasemonkey may avoid that, adapting with special updates. I don’t know what the implications may be for various scripts we may be running under GM . . . .

    If you have some encouraging words to add — maybe some positive details that have not yet come to light — I’d be very glad to read them.

    1. hi Gene – i’m aware of E10S and also what appear to be other major changes coming regarding extensions

      i don’t know how this will pan out, but, to be honest, i’m ready to get of the FF bus anyway and maybe this will be the push that does it

      however this seems to suggest that there is a method to disable the feature…

      If we run into issues, we can slow the roll-out, pause it, or even disable E10sS for those who got it.

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