Fifteen must-have Firefox add-ons

Firefox 3 can be made even better with free add-ons that integrate directly into the browser and offer loads of useful new features

BugMeNot

Registering with a Web site often means making a deal with the devil. You give the site information such as your name, e-mail address, and potentially more private data such as your mailing address, phone number, and age. But what happens with that information? You may be inundated by spam, your name may be sold to mailing lists and advertisers, and possibly worse. But for many Web sites, if you don't register, you can't log in and use the site.

This add-on solves the problem. Go to a Web site, right-click in the user name or password field, and select BugMeNot. A valid user name and password will then be entered into the form. You can then use the site without having to register. The add-on works in concert with the BugMeNot Web site, which has many user names and passwords for multiple sites.

Download BugMeNot | Price: Free

Better Gmail 2

From my point of view, Gmail has one primary drawback--it gives you little that you can customize. Basically, what Google gives you is what you get and nothing more. This add-on changes that. It lets you customize Gmail in a variety of ways including skinning it to change its colors and appearance, customizing the sidebar (for example, hiding the spam count), adding HTML signatures automatically to your mail, and more.

Download Better Gmail 2 | Price: Free

Adblock Plus

Does it seem as if the Internet has become the equivalent of a digital Las Vegas with flashing neon ads wherever you look? Banner ads, ads that are placed willy-nilly, videos that start without your permission--these are just some of the things can distract you and make pages load more slowly.

The answer? Adblock Plus. This add-on blocks just about any ad, but still lets you view the content you want. It claims to eliminate 99 percent of ads on the Web, and that just might be true. When you first start the program, you have your choice of filters to use. If you're the extremely adventurous type, you can try to build your own, but you'll be much better off picking one that already exists. If you browse primarily English-language sites, just choose the EasyList (USA) option. If a banner somehow manages to make it through, right-click it, select Adblock from the context menu, and you won't see it again.

Download Adblock Plus | Price: Free

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