Add-ons, Extensions, and Plug-ins, Oh My!
You use the Tools menu in Firefox to get to extensions, plug-ins, and some add-on/tool selections that aren't shown on the main browser display. (Figure 4 shows my customized version of the menu.) Select Tools > Add-ons, and a new window will open (see Figure 5). The default list of add-ons is what Mozilla recommends. Highlight an entry (such as FireFTP in Figure 5) to get an extended information display and a download/install button.
Figure 4 Tools menu.
Figure 5 Firefox add-ons.
Finding More Add-ons
If you click the See All Recommended Add-ons link in the Add-ons window, you get a list of potential goodies that Mozilla recommends (see Figure 6). When you see an add-on that you want, click the Add to Firefox button to install the add-on. Use the search bar to look for specific kinds of add-ons, or to search by keyword. To browse the available library of add-ons, click the appropriate category on the left-side navigation menu.
Figure 6 Recommended add-ons and add-on categories.
Extensions and Plug-ins
What's the difference between an extension and a plug-in? To quote the Mozilla team, "Plug-ins help your browser perform specific functions like viewing special graphic formats or playing multimedia files. Plug-ins are slightly different from extensions, which modify or add to existing functionality."
Following is a list of common plug-ins that you can download and install easily in Firefox. Assume Linux/OS X/Windows unless otherwise noted.
- Adobe Reader
- Adobe Flash Player
- Java Runtime Environment (JRE)
- QuickTime Player (Windows, Mac OS X)
- Shockwave Player (Windows, Mac OS X)
- Windows Media Player (Windows, Mac OS X)
You can find more info on these and other plug-ins on MozDev.org's PluginDoc page.
When you click the Extensions button in the Add-ons window, Firefox displays the list of possible extensions, with inactive extensions grayed out (see Figure 7). Firefox handles incompatible extensions by simply deactivating them; when compatible versions become available, clicking the Find Updates button will find them.
To display the list of potential plug-ins, click the Plugins button in the Add-ons window (see Figure 8). You can enable, disable, remove, and (in some cases) configure a highlighted plug-in. Buttons will appear for the supported functions.
Figure 7 Installed Firefox extensions.
Figure 8 Installed Firefox plug-ins.