Greasemonkey replacements for Firefox add-ons

by Kevin Purdy -- In terms of memory use, Firefox is one of the most efficient browsers around -- at start-up, anyway, without any extensions installed. As your browsing session rolls on, the add-ons and helper apps that make Firefox such a helpful browser start to eat up serious memory. Want a leaner, more elegant solution? Try using Greasemonkey user scripts to make the Web a better place.

[ See also: Chrome tips and tricks for better browsing ]

If you don't have it installed already, grab Greasemonkey, a Firefox add-on that allows you to easily install and manage individual "user scripts." They're basically bits of custom JavaScript that make useful tweaks and changes to web pages without the overhead of installing extensions.

For example, if you run across a lot of links shortened with,, or other social services, the Long URL Expander automatically shows you the full URL and page title of those inscrutable links when your mouse pointer hovers over them. There's a full extension that does the same thing, with a few preference settings. But with a user script, you'll never have to worry about version upgrades, and can super-customize which sites it works on, how much it displays, and more by tweaking the script text.

Let's be a bit more productive, though. If you're a Google Apps user, you can give Gmail, Google Calendar, and Reader some nice facelifts with scripts obsessed with clean looks and the Helvetica font: Helvetical, Helvetireader, and Helvetimail. If you're a Google Docs user, your cautious hind-brain will reward you for grabbing Google Docs Download and backing up all your cloud-based files all at once to a place where a security issue won't lock you out of them forever.

Do you compulsively keep a Gmail tab open at all times? Stop clicking over to see if there's new mail. Grab Gmail Unread Message Count in Favicon and Gmail's red "mail" icon will get a tiny number next to it, displaying the number of unread messages. If you feel Gmail's sidebar labels could use a little more nested, Outlook-like organization, Folders4Gmail offers exactly what its name implies.

Troubled by typing inside too-short text forms? Textarea Resize gives you the ability to expand text areas vertically or horizontally by hitting Ctrl+Enter or Ctrl+Shift, respectively. Then again, maybe commenting on forums and social sites is more of a time-wasting problem. Grab NoAddict, modify it with the sites you know you're weak against, and insert a message like "Seriously? You want to waste time here?" If the sites you browse occasionally carry some rough language, and you'd rather it not show up on your screen, don't bother with filtering software. Grab the Profanity Filter and watch all those worked-up YouTube comments turn into endless asterisks.


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