My Firefox addons as of Firefox 86 (and the current development version)

February 27, 2021

I was recently reminded that my most recent entry on what Firefox addons I use is now a bit over a year old. Firefox has had 14 releases since then and it feels the start of January 2020 was an entirely different age, but my Firefox addons have barely changed in the year and a bit since that entry. Since they have updated a very small amount, I'll repeat the whole list just so I have it in one spot for the next time around.

My core addons, things that I consider more or less essential for my experience of Firefox, are:

  • Foxy Gestures (Github) is probably still the best gestures extension for me for modern versions of Firefox (but I can't say for sure, because I no longer investigate alternatives).

    (I use some custom gestures in my Foxy Gestures configuration that go with some custom hacks to my Firefox to add support for things like 'view page in no style' as part of the WebExtensions API.)

  • uBlock Origin (Github) is my standard 'block ads and other bad stuff' extension, and also what I use for selectively removing annoying elements of pages (like floating headers and footers).

  • uMatrix (Github) is my primary tool for blocking Javascript and cookies. uBlock Origin could handle the Javascript, but not really the cookies as far as I know, and in any case uMatrix gives me finer control over Javascript which I think is a better fit with how the web does Javascript today.

  • Cookie AutoDelete (Github) deals with the small issue that uMatrix doesn't actually block cookies, it just doesn't hand them back to websites. This is probably what you want in uMatrix's model of the world (see my entry on this for more details), but I don't want a clutter of cookies lingering around, so I use Cookie AutoDelete to get rid of them under controlled circumstances.

    (However unaesthetic it is, I think that the combination of uMatrix and Cookie AutoDelete is necessary to deal with cookies on the modern web. You need something to patrol around and delete any cookies that people have somehow managed to sneak in.)

  • Stylus (Github) has become necessary for me after Google changed their non-Javascript search results page to basically be their Javascript search results without Javascript, instead of the much nicer and more useful old version. I use Stylus to stop search results escaping off the right side of my browser window.

Additional fairly important addons that would change my experience if they weren't there:

  • Textern (Github) gives me the ability to edit textareas in a real editor. I use it all the time when writing comments here on Wandering Thoughts, but not as much as I expected on other places, partly because increasingly people want you to write things with all of the text of a paragraph run together in one line. Textern only works on Unix (or maybe just Linux) and setting it up takes a bit of work because of how it starts an editor (see this entry), but it works pretty smoothly for me.

    (I've changed its key sequence to Ctrl+Alt+E, because the original Ctrl+Shift+E no longer works great on Linux Firefox; see issue #30. Textern itself shifted to Ctrl+Shift+D in recent versions.)

  • Cookie Quick Manager (Github) allows me to inspect, manipulate, save, and reload cookies and sets of cookies. This is kind of handy every so often, especially saving and reloading cookies.

The remaining addons I use I consider useful or nice, but not all that important on the large scale of things. I could lose them without entirely noticing the difference in my Firefox:

  • Open in Browser (Github) allows me to (sometimes) override Firefox's decision to save files so that I see them in the browser instead. I mostly use this for some PDFs and some text files. Sadly its UI isn't as good and smooth as it was in pre-Quantum Firefox.

    (I think my use of Open in Browser is fading away. Most PDFs and other things naturally open in the browser these days, perhaps because web sites have gotten grumpy feedback over forcing you to download them.)

  • Certainly Something (Github) is my TLS certificate viewer of choice. I occasionally want to know the information it shows me, especially for our own sites. The current Firefox certificate information display is almost as good as Certainly Something, but it's much less convenient to get to.

  • HTTP/2 Indicator (Github) does what it says; it provides a little indicator as to whether HTTP/2 was active for the top-level page.

  • ClearURLs (GitLab) is my current replacement for Link Cleaner after the latter stopped being updated. It cleans various tracking elements from URLs, like those 'utm_*' query parameters that you see in various places. These things are a plague on the web so I'm glad to do my little bit to get rid of them.

  • HTTPS Everywhere, basically just because. But in a web world where more and more sites are moving to using things like HSTS, I'm not sure HTTPS Everywhere is all that important any more.

As I've done for a long time now, I actually use the latest beta versions of uBlock Origin and uMatrix. I didn't have any specific reason for switching to them way back when; I think I wanted to give back a bit by theoretically testing beta versions. In practice I've never noticed any problems or issues.

I have some Firefox profiles that are for when I want to use Javascript (they actually use the official Mozilla Linux Firefox release these days, which I recently updated to Firefox 86). In these profiles, I also use Decentraleyes (also), which is a local CDN emulation so that less of my traffic is visible to CDN operators. I don't use it in my main Firefox because I'm not certain how it interacts with me blocking (most) Javascript setup, and also much of what's fetched from CDNs is Javascript, which obviously isn't applicable to me.

(There are somewhat scary directions in the Decentraleyes wiki on making it work with uMatrix. I opted to skip them entirely.)


Comments on this page:

By sam at 2021-02-28 04:49:52:

Are you worried at all about uMatrix havin been abandoned by upstream? I'm in basically the same boat here - I consider it essential to browsing the Web and not going insane, and there are no substitutes that are anywhere near as good. So far, there have been no hiccups with the lack of maintenance, but there's a concern that something's going to break it and I will be left with no good replacements.

About the Google non-JavaScript page being terrible these days, what I do now is to leave JavaScript enabled (in NoScript), and block the JavaScript resource URLs in uBlock. This way you don't get redirected to the non-JavaScript version, and turns out the regular page works just fine with JavaScript blocked, and also does not rewrite the outgoing links to redirect via Google. I also remove the privacy policy consent overlay via uBlock cosmetic filter rules.

By cks at 2021-02-28 12:31:39:

I hadn't heard before now that uMatrix had been frozen by its author, so that's a bit sad and alarming (some links are eg here and here, and the GitHub repo is (currently) set to archived). At the moment uMatrix seems to still work fine for me, and hopefully the addon APIs that it uses won't break in the future and it will keep on working.

I could use uBlock Origin to do a lot of the same JavaScript blocking, but it wouldn't handle the cookies as well. Sites could set and then retrieve cookies on me, and I'd only flush them with Cookie AutoDelete afterward.

By Arnaud Gomes at 2021-02-28 14:50:15:

There is at least one (somewhat) active fork of uMatrix, nuTensor. No idea about its future, but it is alive at the moment.

 -- A
By Anonymous Coward at 2021-03-01 03:33:56:

If you're concerned about making sure cookies are cleaned up, you might look into the Temporary Containers addon. Firefox has had an official "container" feature for some time, but Mozilla's view of it is more as a few segregated buckets that don't leak between them, but within which things like cookies persist. Temporary Containers lets you use containers under a stronger model, where every tab gets a new container unless you specify an existing one, and everything in a container is dumped on the floor when the last tab in it is closed. According to this article it can clear some things that Cooke Auto-Delete can't. (though I've not checked to see if CAD has been enhanced.)

By Simon Deziel at 2021-03-01 22:46:52:

I've replaced HTTPS Everywhere by Firefox HTTPS-Only mode and don't regret it. Going to a plain HTTP site (for the first time) asks for confirmation forcing you to make a conscious choice. That seems preferable over the 'best effort' that HTTPS Everywhere provides.

From 220.235.124.171 at 2021-08-09 01:32:43:
Written on 27 February 2021.
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