Smart Ways to Use Mozilla Firefox

My buddy Mike M., started pestering me. "You're still using that pile of junk browser?" he wrote, referring to Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Yes and no, I told him. I'm still using Maxthon 1.0, that marvelous browser that sits on top of IE. It works fine, I said, and no, I insisted, I'm not switching to Mozilla Firefox.

It didn't stop him from telling me about two add-ons to Firefox that he finds extremely useful, so I decided to pass along Mike's pearls.

The first is CoolIris, an add-on that allows you to preview a page by floating your mouse over a link. Once you're floating, a smaller, resizable preview window pops up, saving you from having to fully open another page. Mike says that's especially handy when reading news stories from Google News and reviewing search results from Google.

The other nifty add-on is PicLens. If you ever search Google Images, you'll appreciate how PicLens turns all those little thumbnail images into a full-screen slide show. It also works with Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, and other image management tools.

Smart Ways to Use Gmail in Firefox

Did you know you can colour Gmail labels? That's perfect for highlighting incoming mail by color. You can also have a "preview bubble" that will show you a floating window when you right-click a piece of incoming mail. I love this because I don't have to open the e-mail in another tab or window.

It'll take three short steps to make this work.

First, if you haven't already done it, you've got to install Greasemonkey. It's a Firefox add-on that allows the implementation of user scripts. Just head for the site, click "Install Now" to get it, and restart Firefox. Second, to install the label colours, go to the Google Code site and click on "Label Colors" from the list on the right-hand side of the page under "Links." You'll get a pop-up asking you to confirm the install by clicking the "Install" button when it lights up. The install will happen pretty quickly; you may not even notice that it occurred. No Firefox restart is required.

Finally, stay on the Google Code's page and in the Links section, click on "Conversation Preview." Follow the same routine as with Label Colors, and it will install quickly.

To color the labels, just rename them and add "color" to the name. For instance, Michael is renamed Michael red; e-mail from Steve is Steve blue. Read the full description if you want to get fancier colors.

BTW, Mike said that Gmail has recently started to roll out a "new" interface. If you're using the newer version of Gmail, you can now directly colour labels by clicking the gray box to the right of the label name and choosing a colour. How can you tell if you're using the "new version"? If you are, there will be a link in the top right corner of the screen that says "Older version." Google temporarily left a link to let users go back to the old if they don't like the new.

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Steve Bass

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