Build the perfect browser

We tested dozens of add-ons to find tools that make the new versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox even more useful

Today's browsers are sophisticated and highly functional programs--but they can become so much more. Here are 46 great (and free) add-ons for Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 that offer safer browsing, easier site sharing, improved searching, faster news gathering, and more.

Plus, we offer tips to help you manage add-ons in both apps without bogging down your browser. To download any extension listed in this story, jump to Add-Ons for Downloading. For many more add-ons, visit Add-Ons for Internet Explorer or Firefox Add-ons.

Bookmarks and searching: Instant information access

Many browser add-ons automatically save your bookmarks online and allow you to reach them from any PC, or they synchronize all of your regular bookmarks among multiple systems. Some of the add-ons in this category also introduce better searching or sync your log-on information in multiple browsers--and one even checks for spyware.

Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer An extension that focuses on performing one function exceptionally well, Foxmarks synchronizes your regular Firefox bookmarks between multiple computers. It has excellent setup options, too.

Yahoo Toolbar One of this application's many features is the ability to create Web-based bookmarks (separate from your system-based bookmarks) that are accessible from any of your other browsers that have the toolbar installed. The applet also provides quick access to Yahoo Mail and other Yahoo services, and includes a free Norton spyware scanner.

Google Toolbar This program supports Web-based bookmarking, in much the same way that Yahoo Toolbar does. It throws in a spelling checker and a form autofilling feature, but overall it doesn't tie in with the panoply of available Google services as well as Yahoo Toolbar does with the corresponding Yahoo universe.

1-Click Answers With this add-on in place, you can right-click any word or phrase on a page and get a small pop-up with a definition or explanation from Answers.com. To turn off the annoying news pop-ups, change the appropriate setting in Preferences, which you can access via a system tray icon.

Google Browser Sync Synchronize your choice of bookmarks, saved passwords, browsing history, and cookies among multiple browsers with this handy application. If you have trouble getting the tool to sync your bookmarks properly (I often did), your best bet is to use this add-on for passwords and cookies and to use Foxmarks for bookmarks.

Inline Search Inline Search adds a useful Firefox-like page-search bar to the bottom of your browser window when you click the - hotkey.

Kikoz Bookmarks Pro Create a bookmarks sidebar that can import all of your bookmarks from IE, Firefox, and Opera and make them accessible from any IE 7 browser that has the extension installed. You can also share your Kikoz bookmarks with other Kikoz users.

Expand the search box You can add many more search engines to the quick-search boxes located in the upper-right corner of either browser. In IE, click the down arrow located to the right of the box and choose Find More Providers. In Firefox, click the arrow to the left of the box, and choose Manage Search Engines and then Get More Search Engines.

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Erik Larkin

PC World
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