Browser add-ons or extension are basically a small piece of software that can be used to customize your web browser, including user interface modifications, password management, ad blocking, cookie management, and so much more.
There are lots of browser add-ons available for your browser, be it Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari, Microsoft’s Edge or Mozilla’s Firefox. Most people have a favorite one — whether it’s because they just accept the default browser, or because they specifically install a particular browser.
Regardless of why, or what browser you use, you can probably improve the way your browser behaves by installing one or more of these tiny programs called add-ins, or add-ons, or extensions, or plug-in — They make your browser “smarter” and allows you to do more with the browser than you could before.
Table of Contents
- Browser Fingerprinting
- Best Browser Add-ons
- uBlock Origin
- HTTPS Everywhere
- Cookie AutoDelete
- Privacy Badger
- User-Agent Switcher and Manager
- Firefox Multi-Account Containers
- NoScript Security Suite
- Terms of Service; Didn’t Read
- Language Tool
- Dark Reader
- Search by Image
- Web Archives
- Swift Selection Search
- Impulse Blocker
- Tomato Clock
- Additional Resources
- Privacy and Security Add-ons Summary
Before you go ahead, and install an add-on, you should consider your browser’s fingerprint (or device fingerprint) — a tracking technique capable of identifying individual users based on their browser and device settings, which was initially developed for security purposes.
Every time you visit a web page, your browser voluntarily sends information about its configuration like OS, browser type, available fonts, screen resolution, add-ons and a lot more which essentially make up your fingerprint.
You can check for browser fingerprinting by visiting Panopticlick. The problem is that if this combination of information is unique, it will facilitate identification without any tracking tools like cookies.
More is not always better. You don’t need to use every add-on that i am recommending here, the more add-ons you add, the unique your browser fingerprint gets.
You should use Tor Browser without making any changes or installing add-ons, if you are looking for extreme privacy, security, and anonymity as all Tor Browsers have the same configuration and installed add-ons.
Alright, enough intro lets get into the good stuff, i will be listing these add-ons in no particular order, choose the one that fits your needs, while keeping the browser fingerprint warning in mind.
Here’s the link to all the major browser add-on stores from which you can download and install the mentioned add-ons:
Other browsers like Brave browser, Vivaldi browser, Iridium browser, PaleMoon browser, etc are based either on Chromium or Firefox, so you can install add-ons for them from either Chrome of Firefox extension store — just like Edge, you can install add-ons from Chrome web store.
uBlock Origin, not to be confused with uBlock, is the first add-on I get on any browser after installing it — It is an efficient and light-weight wide-spectrum blocker which blocks all kinds or ads, trackers and malware sites.
I trust uBlock Origin as it is completely open source and lets you enforce thousands more filters than any competing blocker. And, unlike other so called “Ad Blockers” it doesn’t have any Monetization Strategy like “Acceptable Ads Program”.
It also makes your browsing experience much faster as you won’t be loading a lot of junk every time you open a web page, and hence saving a lot of bandwidth.
HTTPS is the secure, encrypted version of HTTP, the foundation of all communications on web. You can check if a website is using HTTPS or not by looking at URL, a green padlock followed by “https://” in your browser’s address bar is the way to go.
It only works on sites that already support HTTPS on their server’s side so you’ll have to keep an eye on your address bar or you can just turn on “Encrypt All Sites Eligible” from the HTTPS Everywhere’s icon.
Turning Encrypt All Sites Eligible will prompt you whenever it finds a website that isn’t using HTTPS, and you get to choose to whether to proceed or not.
These CDNs are hosted all over the world to facilitate faster browsing, but they also track you as you are constantly making connections to these servers, allowing them to build an accurate tracking profile on you.
With Decentraleyes installed, when your browser tries to make connection to a CDN to download say jQuery or bootstrap, it will check if you already have it and then serve the file from its cache.
Cookie AutoDelete is a great add-on that lets you control your cookies — small, often encrypted text files, located in browser directories that are used by websites to track and help you navigate the website efficiently.
It is open source and automatically deletes cookies as soon as the tab closes, domain changes, browser restarts, or a combination of those events, basically any tracking cookies that are not needed.
You can also whitelist or clear cookies for a domain and much more, it was inspired by another, now defunct add-on called Self Destructing Cookies.
Privacy Badger is another great add-on by Electronic Frontier Foundation, that blocks “Invisible Trackers” by analyzing trackers and ads that violate the principle of user consent.
It is open source and block advertisers from loading any more content in your browser if an advertiser seems to be tracking you across multiple websites without your permission.
Privacy Badger learns to block unnecessary tracking across different websites by locally keeping track of what is seen in the wild, while traditional ad blockers like uBlock Origin use a predefined list of ads and trackers to block them.
ClearURLs is a fantastic open source add-on that automatically removes tracking elements from URLs to help protect your privacy when browse through the Internet.
Many websites use tracking elements in the URL (e.g. https://example.com?utm_source=newsletter1&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=sale) to mark your online activity, which isn’t necessary for a website to be displayed, and only used for tracking you.
ClearURLs remove all of that unnecessary elements from URLs, it works on all kinds of websites from Amazon to search engines like Google. It also has a built-in tool to clean up multiple URLs at once.
User-Agent Switcher and Manager
User-Agent Switcher and Manager lets you spoof your browser’s User-Agent string, making it harder for websites to track you and deliver distinct content.
It is open source and spoofs your browser type and operating system by overwriting the navigator.userAgent string to return a custom string provided by the user, and altering the “User-Agent” header that is sent with each request.
You can set per-site user-agent strings, and there is also an option to randomize user-agent strings.
Firefox Multi-Account Containers
Firefox Multi-Account Containers is a great add-on by Mozilla that lets you keep parts of your online life separated into color-coded tabs and preserve your privacy.
It is open source and is only available on Firefox that isolates your work, shopping or personal browsing without having to clear your history, log in and out, or use multiple browsers.
Firefox Multi-Account Containers works by separating website storage into tab-specific containers so that cookies downloaded by one container are not available to other containers.
Even though chrome doesn’t have this add-on, you can separate your online activities by using Profiles — click on the profile icon on the top-right corner to use them.
NoScript Security Suite
NoScript Security Suite is a powerful scripts blocker that uses “ClearClick Technology” to protect you against XSS, cross-zone DNS rebinding / CSRF attacks, and Clickjacking attempts.
It is open source and is the only add-on that comes bundled with Tor Browser that allows you to run potentially malicious web content only from sites you trust and protect you against XSS other web security exploits.
NoScript uses unique whitelist based preemptive script blocking approach that prevents exploitation of security vulnerabilities (known, such as Meltdown or Spectre, and even not known yet!) with no loss of functionality.
It is recommended by all kinds of security experts like Edward Snowden, Douglas Crockford, and many other tech publications.
It is a point-and-click matrix-based firewall, with many privacy-enhancing tools that you can use to block scripts, iframes, ads, etc.
uMatrix gives you full control of you where your browser is allowed to connect which might be an overkill for normal users as it can break websites if not used correctly.
Terms of Service; Didn’t Read
Term of Service; Didn’t Read is a great add-on that believes “I have read and agree to the Terms of Service” is the biggest lie on the web, and wants to fix it by grading websites based on their terms of service agreements and privacy policies.
It is an open source and community driven add-on that provides short summaries of these terms of service agreements. The analysis and ratings are published transparently by a community of reviewers.
Snowflake is a WebRTC pluggable transport for Tor that turns your browser into a proxy that connects Tor users in censored regions to the Tor Network.
If you have an uncensored connection, running this extension volunteers your connection to be used as a Snowflake proxy to help users unable to connect to the Tor network.
Your IP will not be visible to the sites users visit using your proxy, as this extension will not make you an exit node. If your access to the Tor network is blocked, this extension will not assist you, and you should use the Tor Browser instead. This add-on does not work with WebRTC disabled.
It requires no registrations, and works on pretty much every website i tested on, you can install it on your desktop for offline use, it is also available for LibreOffice, Thunderbird, VS Code, and much more.
I recommend Language Tool over Grammarly as it is open source, feature-rich and privacy-respecting.
Dark Reader as the name suggests is an open source add-on that turns on Dark Mode for all the websites you visit, by inverts brightness of web pages and aims to reduce eyestrain while browsing the web.
This eye-care extension enables night mode creating dark themes for websites on the fly. It inverts bright colors making them high contrast and easy to read at night.
You can easily adjust brightness, contrast, sepia filter, dark mode, font settings and ignore-list.
Search by Image
Search by Image is a great add-on that lets you do an image search from top image search engines like Google, Bing, Yandex, Baidu and TinEye. Just right-click any image on the web to pull up a context menu with useful reverse image search engines.
It is open source and has five search modes including search & upload, capture, upload, select and by URL. You can search with a single engine, or all enabled ones, detect images on the page, search for the current video frame, and much more.
OneTab is my favorite tab management add-on that convert all the tabs to a list to reduce browser memory and get them back when i need.
It is very lightweight, doesn’t require any registrations and works completely offline. You can even share your tabs to other people by converting it into a web page.
Tabliss transforms your new tab with beautiful backgrounds, custom quick links, search box, weather, to-do reminders, and much more.
It offers hundreds of customizations options to create a new tab page that unique to you, you can select background images from Unsplash, GIPHY, plain colors, gradients or from your own images.
Tabliss is lightweight and open source and has lots of widgets from which you can choose from to customize your new tab just the way you like.
Web Archives is another great add-on by the same developer behind Search by Image, that lets you view archived and cached versions of web pages from search engines, like Wayback Machine, Archive.is, Google, Bing, Yandex, Gigablast, WebCite, Sogou, Memento, Naver and Yahoo Japan.
It is open source and can come really handy when you are trying to find information that may have been deleted or when the website is offline.
You can search for these archives from the right-click context menu, the browser toolbar, or the address bar in case of a server error.
SingleFile as the name suggests let you save entire web page in a single HTML file with all the images and styling intact.
It is open source, lightweight and has lots of features like processing multiple tabs in one click and save, Annotating and saving the page, and much more.
SingleFile also lets you automatically save pages every time after being loaded to your computer or Google Drive with the option to have a proof of existence by linking the SHA256 of the pages into the blockchain.
Swift Selection Search
Swift Selection Search is a simple Firefox add-on that lets you quickly search for some text in a page using your favorite search engines.
It is open source and lets you search for selected text with multiple search engines like Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, etc.
You can easily add new search engines for the popup and context search, change the appearance of the icons, what happens when you click them, when/where the popup appears, whether to auto copy text on selection, etc.
Flagfox displays a country flag depicting the location of the current website’s server and provides a multitude of tools such as site safety checks, whois, translation, similar sites, validation, URL shortening, and more.
You can get a detailed map showing the city the server is in and other useful information such as its local time and ISP by clicking on the flag icon, there are other great features too like Whois and DNS information lookup, quick URL shortening, and much more.
Impulse Blocker is an open source add-on that makes it easy to block distracting websites you want to avoid. Just list the sites you want Impulse Blocker to pause or completely avoid.
You can add easily add websites and block them for anywhere between five minutes to three hours.
Tomato Clock is a simple and open source add-on for managing your productivity. It lets you break down your work into 25 minute ‘Tomato’ intervals separated by short breaks.
You can set customizable timer lengths, get browser notifications, and easily track your work sessions.
- Mozilla’s Recommended Extensions program: Mozilla has started a recommended extension program that lists extensions that meet the highest standards of security, functionality, and user experience. Firefox staff thoroughly evaluate each extension before it receives Recommended status.
Most of the extensions mentioned above are part of Mozilla’s Recommended Extensions program, and are free and open source unless mentioned otherwise. Most of these add-ons will work on all of your browsers except a few that are made for Mozilla Firefox.
Privacy and Security Add-ons
Add-ons are a great way to achieve the perfect amount of privacy and security that you desire. If you are having trouble installing add-ons, check out these links for your browser: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Brave. I hope you enjoyed reading about these add-ons that are available for Firefox, Chrome, Edge, Safari, and others.
That’s all Folks!
I will be updating this page frequently with more privacy and security tools and information. You can check out all the web browsers i recommend here.
Do let me know of any feedback, tips, or suggestions based on privacy and security tools you are using, feel free to drop a comment below!