"Internet browsing" is a funny term. Browsing sounds so mellow; as a researcher, it feels more like I am internet rooting, wild boar style. It's an intense data experience. Being a successful researcher is more than just finding information: it's finding it quickly, and weaving together disparate sources to form your analysis.

It's all about the tabs. Firefox revolutionized internet research with its tabbed interface, and its open source design has encouraged myriad add-ons to improve the tabbed browsing experience.

Sometimes I find myself with more than fifty tabs open at one time. (How do I know? Tab Counter displays the number of tabs you have open. Not essential, but it is a neat trick.)

What's a nerd to do?

Tab Catalog -- Immensely useful. Tab Catalog shows your tabs as a thumbnail style list, allowing you to manipulate each tab, for example closing whole swathes at a time, or finding the one out of fifty tabs you need to see right now.

Speaking of finding that tab... HashColouredTabs and Aging Tabs are really helpful. HashColouredTabs will assign a colored icon to any site without its own icon -- this helps to visually distinguish between different sites. Aging Tabs is just as it sounds. The longer you have a tab open, the "older" it gets, and Aging Tabs darkens the tab.

Tabs Open Relative is one of my favorite low-key extensions. It changes the way tabs launch, so they open to the right of the tab you are in, rather than opening at the far right of the tab row. This is especially handy when you are dealing with a bunch of different types of information at once, as it allows for a rough segmentation of your tabs by subject area, since they open near each other rather than in a jumble.

And finally, Tab History is another quietly helpful tab extension. When you click on a link to open a new tab, the new tab will retain the history of the parent tab. A similar extension is Duplicate Tab, which allows you to clone a tab, along with its history.

Tune in soon for more Firefox add-on fun, including a handy tool that brings pages back from the dead.

Amanda JarmanComment