8 browser extensions that will make you more productive

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In 2002, Mozilla developed the first version of the code that would ultimately turn into the Firefox browser. There’s a lot to love about Firefox, but to my mind its greatest impact has been the introduction of browser extensibility. It’s now not only Firefox that lets you add extra bells and whistles to your browser: you can now do the same thing in Chrome, and to a more limited extent, Safari and Internet Explorer.

As a shout-out to that long-distant Mozilla release, let me share a list of the extensions that I use in my various browsers.  In fact, it’s my attachment to some of these extensions that has me running four different browsers on a routine basis:

  1. Zemanta makes it easy to add links and images to your blog posts. You can run it as an extension in your browser or install it on the backend of your blog. Zemanta scans the content of your draft blog post and suggests links and images that are contextually relevant.
  2. Cortex app has 4 quadrants with 4 social web iconsCortex is the sharing tool for people who are too lazy to type 140 characters. Hold down your mouse for a fraction longer than usual while visiting any website, and you get a little circle with four quadrants. Mouse over the appropriate quadrant to post the page you’re on to your chose of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or Instapaper (once you’ve set up the respective accounts). Hold down a moment longer and you can customize the post text.
  3. Evernote web clipper makes the already-useful Evernote notetaking program absolutely indispensable. One click saves the page you’re on to your choice of Evernote notebooks. I use this to clip web pages about any destination I’m traveling to so that I can compile my own guidebook. I also use it to store resources I need for blog posts in progress (like the Internet timeline I rely on for this series).
  4. Bit.ly sidebar makes it fast to shorten any link. Click the sidebar link while you’re on any web page and you’ll instantly get a sidebar that shows a bit.ly field, prepopulated with a link to the page you were just on. You can even share the link to Twitter directly within the sidebar. OK, so it’s technically a bookmarklet rather than an extension, but still…you want it.
  5. Feedly is an extension that gives you a prettier, more usable Google Reader interface. It groups your favorite RSS feeds into a magazine-like interface and makes it easy to share any story to your favorite social networks.
  6. 1Password is a unified password manager that lets you store identities, passwords and even credit card information in a single encrypted program. Install 1Password in each of your browsers and you’ll have access to the same password and identity info from within all of them.
  7. The official Delicious Bookmarks Extension remains my favorite bookmarking tool. You can easily tag any page to store it to delicious, and you can access your bookmarks from within your browser.
  8. Zotero is a bibliographic management tool that is essential for students, academics and other researchers. Use Zotero to store the citation information for all the search results you find in your library’s database or on the great big web. Zotero integrates with Word and other text editors so that it’s easy to add citations to papers and articles.

These are just a few of the extensions I use on a daily basis. But each and every one of them makes me significantly more productive, without the hassle of having to install yet another free-standing program.

What extensions do you rely on? Let me know so I can give them a try.

NB: I am currently working with Mozilla on an e-book project through the Social + Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr.

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