11 free ways to beef up your Web browser

Make Internet Explorer and Firefox more useful with List.it, IE7Pro, VideoDownload Helper, Zigtag, and other add-ons and services.

Here are seven ways to pump up your browser, whether it's Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Mozilla's Firefox.

Use these free browser add-ons to take notes in your browser, see thumbnails of Web pages in Google searches, drag an address in a Web page to an add-on and map it instantly, and quickly download video with one press of a hotkey.

BEST BET List.it: This nifty little Firefox 3 utility (registration required) hides away until you need to jot down notes or call up already created notes. Press a hotkey, and a sidebar appears that lets you type in text or look at previous text. If you run this add-on on multiple PCs, you can synchronize notes among them all.

Feeds Plus: Internet Explorer has a very good RSS reader built in, but you can make it even better. This download lets you read all of your feeds in one location, so that you don't have to read a single feed at a time. It also tells you when your favorite feeds have new content.

FireFTP: The venerable file transfer protocol (FTP) isn't dead--it's still a great way to access vast file repositories, and to send and receive large files when your ISP won't let you send them via e-mail. This superb Firefox add-on lets you use FTP right within the browser. Setting up new accounts is simple, and the add-on gives you all the FTP tools you'd expect, including the ability to create remote directories.

Google Preview: This great Firefox add-on lets you see thumbnails of the Web pages that appear in Google search results, to help you decide which sites to visit.

IE7Pro: This do-it-all add-on for Internet Explorer rivals some of the best Firefox add-ons, and then some. You can manage your tabs better, block Flash ads, automatically scroll Web pages, automatically refresh pages, instantly fill in forms...and that's just a start. It's a must-have download for anyone who wants to get more out of IE.

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Minimap Sidebar: You come across a physical address on a Web page and you want to see it on a map--but you don't want to take the time to copy it, open a mapping site, and paste it in. This Firefox add-on simplifies the whole process. Whenever you come across an address in a Web page, drag it to this little app in the sidebar, and the tool will map it for you, right there, without your having to leave the current site.

Video DownloadHelper: See an online video that you want to save to your local disk? Press a hotkey, and this simple Firefox add-on will download it for later viewing.

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Preston Gralla

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