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

WOT (Web of Trust)

It isn't news that the Web is full of innocent-seeming sites harboring bad intentions: Sites that host spyware or malware. Sites that spam you. Sites that scam you. Sites that invade your privacy, or that children shouldn't view.

Unfortunately, there's no simple way to tell the good sites from the bad. WOT, however, acts as just such a screener. It rates every site for trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy, and child safety, and shows you the results using simple, instantly interpretable colored icons (red for bad, green for good). When you do a search in Google or another Web site, you'll see the icons and know what you're in for if you visit. You can also visit the WOT rating for each site to see why it was given its rating.

It offers other protections as well. When you visit a site with a red rating, you first get a big warning on your screen. That way, you can either navigate away or click through at your own peril. And when you're on any Web site, click the WOT button in Firefox, and you'll be shown details about the site's rating as well.

Download WOT (Web of Trust) | Price: Free

Mini Map Sidebar

Google Maps and other mapping services are among the most useful sites on the Internet. But they do have one inconvenience: You have to visit them to get their information. Wouldn't it be nice if you could get mapping information no matter where you were on the Web?

The Mini Map Sidebar does just that. Open it as a Firefox sidebar, then drag and drop address names or links to it, and a map of them will open right in the sidebar. You have your choice of map services, including Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and others. You can then zoom in or out, get directions--in short, do pretty much anything you can do on the mapping site itself. In fact, you can do even more because Mini Map Sidebar includes some nice extras such as traffic information.

Download Mini Map Sidebar| Price: Free

All-in-One Sidebar

The Firefox sidebar is one of the browser's more useful tools, but most likely one of its least used. It serves plenty of purposes--you can browse your history and view your bookmarks there, for instance. And many add-ons, such as Sage-Too, use it as well.

This clever tool lets you quickly switch among all your sidebar panels, and gives you a great deal of information about your Firefox use. Want to see your entire download history in the sidebar? It can do that. It will also show you all of your add-ons with details about each, give you information on the current page you're visiting, and more.

If you don't regularly use the Firefox sidebar, give this add-on a try, and you might change your mind. And if you do use it regularly, this one will be a keeper.

Download All-in-One Sidebar| Price: Free

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