What Are Browser Extensions?


Each browser has its own extensions and rules in their making. There has been a lot of attention in the media about how specific browser companies are treating their users on the account to what their extensions and browsers have access regarding users’ computers and personal information. There is just a handful of companies that hadn’t made this violation, like the Firefox extension, and that is why they become more and more popular.

A browser extension is a computer program that works in conjunction with a browser and provides it with new features. The terminology may differ in different programs. They may be called add-ons, plug-ins, extensions, but this does not change the essence. There are very popular plug-ins, and there are specific ones that are in demand only for a narrow group of people.

The history of extensions

Although Internet Explorer 5 already in 1999 offered the possibility to its users to install additional toolbars (toolbars) and other small utilities, Firefox was the first browser to exploit the potential of extensions. The ability to customize the browser through extensions, offered to Firefox users since 2004, was one of the factors that led Firefox to become one of the most popular browsers in the world.


To date Firefox offers almost 3 thousand extensions including Ad Block Plus (to block video ads on web pages), Video Download Helper (to download videos to your computer from websites), Firebug (useful for those who develop and want to check the code in the pages), each used by millions of people.

Look at any page in a normal browser window. Now look at that page using Firebug. Firebug allows you to see the HTML code. This is the website’s backend code used to create the visible page. Think of it like an architectural blueprint for your browser. For example pages you can use Firebug on, use the rose toy page https://comprogear.com/rose-toy/. Both are on the same topic.

Open 2 different pages in your browser. See if you can spot the major difference in the source code. It helps to use a specific browser extension to compare the differences.

How are Browser Extensions useful?

Extensions exist for dozens of purposes: to increase accessibility (for example to improve readability), for weather forecasts, to protect your privacy, to manage news, RSS, to manage file downloads, to speed up navigation…

They are also used for shopping, to translate web pages, to increase productivity (extensions to take notes or to manage online calendars), for fun (extensions to listen to music via online radio), to add and customize toolbars, etc.

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