With each update, Facebook has gotten incrementally more cluttered, perplexing, and ornery—and I'm not even talking about all your annoying acquaintances flooding it with inane status updates. Yet, at the same time, it's become a tool few of us can live without. If Facebook has you on your last nerve, here's how to fix some of its biggest annoyances in a matter of minutes—and with only one new addition to your browser. More »
Firefox/Chrome/Safari: Netflix's new interface may not be the most fun to navigate, but you can ease a bit of the pain with a user script that adds Gmail-like keyboard shortcuts to the entire thing.
The new Twitter revamp this week has divided users and many can't get used to having their timeline on the right side of the screen. If this bugs you, tech weblog The How-To Geek wrote a user script for Chrome and Firefox to put the timeline back to the left side of the screen. More »
Chrome/Firefox/Opera/Safari (Greasemonkey): If you're tired of plain text links that you have to copy and paste in your address bar, free Greasemonkey script Linkify Plus will turn all URLs and email addresses into clickable links. More »
Firefox/Chrome/Opera: Interfacelift is one of our favorite sites for high-resolution wallpapers, but the added clicking required to get to the right size is a pain. InterfaceLift Resolutions Links is a userscript that adds direct links to each resolution right on the download page. More »
Google launched its Chrome browser in 2008. At the time it was fast, secure, stable and a minimalistic alternative to Microsoft’s beleaguered Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s bloated Firefox. However, Chrome was also criticised for lacking any extensions or customisation options. So, slowly Google rolled out extensions, theme support, and even Web Apps. Although we have covered extensions in the past, in this article I will focus primarily on those that help make your browsing experience smoother.
1. AdBlock Plus
AdBlock Plus was for the longest time one of the most installed extensions for Mozilla Firefox. When Google finally started allowing extensions for Chrome, many users cried out for AdBlock Plus to port an extension over to Chrome.
The extension is fairly simple to use: install it, pick a “filter list“, add any whitelisted domains and you are good to go.
Ads are blocked on every website that is not listed in your whitelist and it even blocks ads within YouTube videos.
I will leave it to your judgment to decide whether it is appropriate to use ad blockers on the web.
Most websites and blogs have a Twitter “Tweet” button or a Facebook “Like” button, however what happens if you want to post the contents of that site to a Tumblr blog or Reddit it? If you find yourself in a situation like this, I would recommend installing the Shareaholic extension.
This extension places an icon on your Chrome toolbar that lists your chosen social media and other links allowing you to share, email, print and save the blog post or article that you are reading.
You can login to your own Shareaholic account and tweak the services that are visible on your Chrome browser.
3. Mega Buttons
A large majority of Chrome’s features are buried within the about:plugins, about:flags, about:extensions and other pages. The Mega Button extension places a large green button on your Chrome toolbar that allows easy access to all these and more features.
While the extension is useful, unless you know what each icon refers to, it can be a little difficult to find the right link.
The links (in order) refer to the following features:
This extension simply converts “unclickable” URLs and Email addresses into clickable ones.
Websites and blogs will often post links such as:
In some cases, they decide not to turn the link into a hyperlink. This extension automatically generates a hyperlink out of the unclickable links. Simply install it and restart your browser for it to work.
This is another extension that is very simple but immensely useful.
Some sites have Email addresses to contact the sites owner, usually these are in the format:
If you click on the Email address it automatically opens a compose window within your default Email client. Unfortunately, most computers have their default Email client set to their desktop client, such as Outlook. After installing this extension, when you click on an Email link, it will automatically open your default email account.
Bonus: Greasemonkey Scripts
On Firefox, Greasemonkey is an extension that allows users to install scripts that make on-the-fly changes to the HTML content of a web page immediately after it has loaded. Unfortunately, Greasemonkey is a Firefox only extension, however most of the scripts that work with Greasemonkey on Firefox also work on Chrome. Furthermore, there is no need to install the Greasemonkey extension. All you have to do, is head over to http://userscripts.org/ and click “Install” on any script you wish to install in Chrome. Some of the scripts will not work correctly, but most do.
Chrome/Firefox/Opera/Safari: If you're unhappy with Facebook's new small font size (or other annoyances), userscript Better Facebook gives you over 75 extra options with which you can tweak Facebook to your liking.
Every time Facebook redesigns their home page, the entire internet seems to erupt (usually unnecessarily) in anger. Recently, however, Facebook changed its default font size for the news feed to a smaller font that is significantly harder to read, and it's a pretty legitimate complaint. Luckily, user script Better Facebook has you covered with a new feature that allows you to force a certain font size.
Lee wrote about AutoPagerize back in September 2009. Now, almost one year later, the userscript is still going strong. It was updated in March of this year, and it now has a dedicated version for Chrome.
Its function is as simple as it is useful; it loads the next page of results in Google without you having to click anything. Just continue scrolling down the page, and the new results will show up. It's magic!
Stylebot is a Chrome add-on that provides a point-and-click interface for customizing the CSS on any page, and then it saves your customizations for next time -- and if you have bookmark sync turned on, it even syncs them for you!
The way that it works is very simple. In Selection mode, each element on the page gets a highlighted frame when you hover over it. As soon as you get the element that you want, just click it. Any CSS declarations that you then specify are applied to that element.
"Specifying CSS declarations" sounds pretty technical, but it's basically clicking a bunch of buttons. You need to know a bit of CSS to make good use of the add-on, but it's also a very good way to learn. Of course, if you do know your CSS, you can just switch to Advanced mode and hand code it instead.
A few missing features:
Up/down keys do not work for incrementing/decrementing values. That's a must-have Greasemonkey feature!
Existing font sizes (and other properties) are not displayed. This means that, if I want to increase the font size of an existing element, I need to start by guessing what the current size is. Then, I need to nudge it up by entering (say) 12, deleting, entering 13, deleting, entering 17, deleting, entering 15, etc. It rapidly gets annoying. Up/down keystroke support + showing the currently selected font size would go a long way towards alleviating this.
There's no simple way to undo a single change. You can either reset everything you've done, or you can manually edit the CSS in order to remove the change (if your CSS chops are up to the task).
Other than those few things, it's certainly a handy add-on for customizing the Web. I like that it saves your settings automatically and syncs them. I've embedded the add-on's "intro video" after the break.
If you're obsessive about your Facebook friends and you always notice when your friend numbers go up or down, Facebook Friends Checker might be for you. It 's a Chrome extension which keeps track of your friends and periodically informs you when someone defriends you or deletes their account. You'll get an alert on top of your Facebook page, showing your lost friends and it'll stay there until you dismiss it.
Note that you won't see Friends Checker working immediately because it's not checking your friends list every second. Don't worry, though, I promise it works. There's also a Greasemonkey script, which will work on Firefox and Safari (with Greasekit), but I didn't have any luck getting it to work.
Firefox/Chrome: If you spend a lot of time on YouTube, you've probably noticed the new Autoplay bar that pops up on the bottom of your screen with recommended videos—and here's how to get rid of it. More »
As Sebastian is still in Montenegro, I will be presenting you with today's Firefox Friday Five. I know you guys miss him, but fret not - he's due back around Tuesday, so next week's installment shall indubitably be British in style and flavour. For now, though, you're stuck with me -- so buckle up and enjoy the ride!
This week we've seen two pretty exciting releases from Mozilla, plus one aimed at developers, as well as a great add-on and a Greasemonkey script to round it all off. Read on for the details!
Google Chrome, unlike Firefox, where the Greasemonkey extension is needed to install and use userscripts, supports userscripts out of the box. The browser is however not fully compatible at this point which means that several userscripts will not work properly if they make use of functions that the Chrome browser is not supporting or actively blocking.
The two Chrome extensions Tampermonkey and Blank Canvas aim to reduce the amount of non-working scripts by adding support for some of the functions to Chrome that are not available by default.
Tampermonkey was the first Chrome extension to increase userscript support in the web browser. It adds support for several userscript functions like GM_registerMenuCommand or GM_xmlhttpRequest which are not supported by default.
The extension will also intercept the install dialogs on the userscript website.
This provides additional information about each userscript including its version and website’s that it is configured to work on.
Chrome: Blank Canvas Script Handler is a user script manager for Google Chrome that makes Greasemonkey scripts more compatible with Chrome while also providing a nice interface for managing those user scripts. More »
Blank Canvas Script Handler is an excellent extension to install if you browse with a number of userscripts. Install the extension and a script icon appears in your browser actions area. Click it to display your installed scripts, see what features they utilize, and see where they run. You can also enable and disable scripts, delete them, and edit their source code.
Developer Jerome Dane also hopes to implement all the Greasemonkey functions that are missing in Google Chrome. As Jerome puts it, "Even though Chrome now supports installing user scripts as extensions, they completely left out support for most of the syntax that script writers have been using for years now, so most scripts would have to be redone to work with Chrome."
You can find Blank Canvas in the Google Chrome Extensions Gallery. It's a must-have for userscript fans.
Facebook has become a major hot-button topic recently, what with the endless privacy issues and bug reports floating around and all, so you may be thinking about leaving the social network. Unfortunately, kicking the habit may not be so easily done.
Maybe you want to deactivate your account, and let it sit while you think things over. Maybe you're afraid of outright deleting your account out of fear that you may become an elusive Internet hermit. Maybe keeping the account active is the only way your Mom will get off your case about not calling home often enough. Or perhaps you just don't want to abandon all your friends, who don't even use email or chat services anymore because of Facebook dependency. Sure, you've tried explaining it to them, but they still don't understand why you would want to leave such a fantabulous, wonderfully free social network. It's the greatest thing since sliced bread -- don't you know?
Maybe you find yourself stuck in a loathsome, controlling relationship with Mark Zuckerberg, and you just can't force yourself away from his buggy social clutches. Maybe you feel like you need some help.
Sadly, Dr. Drew Pinsky doesn't take cases like this for cheap, but you can still get the help you need to kick the Facebook habit right in the face, once and for all -- and you can do it with a userscript.
The script, called No Facebook, can be installed in any browser running Greasemonkey/Greasekit or in Chrome as an extension. Basically, when you have the script enabled and try to visit Facebook, you get directed to a page with nothing but the friendly reminder pictured above.
Now, whether you've decided to deactivate, delete, or simply leave your account open, you can at least exercise some control over your junkie self. Just remember -- you're not alone.
All browsers: Want your Google Calendar to look a bit more like a desk calendar—all appointments, no filler? The Mini Google Calendar user script cuts out everything except your data view, relying on keyboard shortcuts for everything else. More »
You'd be lying if you said you'd never tried FarmVille. Well, theoretically you could claim to be one of the few that has yet to try FarmVille, but with over 80 million users you're probably lying.
True, most of those 80 million are middle-aged housewives that think an 'extension' is a way of increasing the range of the vacuum cleaner, but by my reckoning there must be some Download Squad readers that also play FarmVille. This post's for you, power users; power farmers. Why calculate your crop harvests in your head when a userscript can do it for you?! Or, indeed, why should you spend time adopting animals and accepting bonuses when there are peas and asparagus to plant?
Remember, Chrome 4 and above supports Userscripts -- though where Chrome Extension versions exist, I have included a link. Firefox users will have to install Greasemonkey.
In fact, when you install a userscript in Chrome, it actually installs as though it's a regular old extension. That means, as the original Greasemonkey developer and Google employee Aaron Boodman points out on the official Chromium Blog, that Chrome users now have roughly 40,000 more extensions to add to the list.
Some scripts won't work with Chrome just yet because of differences between Firefox and Chrome, but it looks like that number is somewhere around 15-20%. Not bad, Chrome. It's getting more and more tempting to consider Chrome as a viable Firefox alternative every day.
The improved support for userscripts should work on any Chrome version over 4, which includes the stable version on Windows and both of the beta versions on OS X and Linux. If you'd like to try out a few good userscripts—for Chrome or Firefox—our list of the top 10 Greasemonkey user scripts is a good place to get started.