// Internet Duct Tape

How to Install a Firefox Extension (with screenshots)

Posted in Firefox and Greasemonkey, Technology by engtech on August 23, 2007

Web Browser Tips & Tricks

One of my favorite features of Firefox is that users can modify it with extensions. No matter what it is you want to do or change about a web page, there is undoubtedly an extension out there already that does it for you. Someone has gone to through all the hard work and now all you have to do is install it to reap the benefits. I know it is arrogant of me to say so, but I do not understand how people surf the Internet without using extensions that simplify common tasks and improve the way websites work.

This guide is intended for beginners

Why Use Extensions?

Firefox extensions help you get things done. They can reduce repetitive tasks to something simple and improve your web experience. Here are some examples of popular Firefox extensions:

The real power of Firefox is in the user community around it who builds all these cool toys. If you only use one extension, Ad Block Plus will revolutionize your web surfing. I’m always so surprised when I access web sites on a browser without Ad Block Plus and see all of the crap that gets in the way. Installing extensions can be addictive, but it’s a good idea to pick 5 to 10 of the best ones and stick with those.

Installing a Firefox Extension

I hope I’ve convinced you of the value in Firefox extensions. A little goes a long way. Here is a walkthrough of how to install them.

1. Find an extension you want to install

greasemonkey firefox extension install mozilla add ons

Most extensions can be found on the Mozilla Add-ons website. For this example I’ll be installing the Greasemonkey extension. Greasemonkey is a bit different than other extensions, in that it’s kind of a parent extension. With Greasemonkey installed you’ll be able to install all other kinds of baby extensions (called userscripts) to tweak web sites even more.

2. Click on the install link

firefox greasemonkey installation guide

Firefox extensions end with the .XPI suffix. When you click on an .XPI file, Firefox knows how to open and install it for you. The official Mozilla Add-ons page shows all of the links with a green Install This button. If you are installing an extension from somewhere else it might look different.

3. Click on the Install Now button

firefox greasemonkey install click install button

When Firefox recognizes that you are installing an extension it brings up a box asking you if you want to install it. Click Install Now.

4. Restart Firefox to Finish Installation

mozilla firefox click restart to finish installation

The installation will not be complete until you restart Firefox. The good news is that Firefox will remember all the pages you are viewing right now, so go ahead and click on the Restart Now button.

Conclusion

Now you’ve installed your first Firefox Extension. You can find more useful extensions at Mozilla Add-ons or on popular blogs like Lifehacker.

Troubleshooting

Thinks don’t always go the way you want them to. Leave a comment if you have any other further questions and I’ll expand this section.

Q1: How do I find out what extensions I have installed?

firefox find out what extensions are installed and uninstall some

If you go to Tools >> Add-ons you’ll find a list of all of your installed extensions. From that list you can configure, enable, disable, check for updates, and uninstalled individual extensions.

Q2: I click on the .XPI file but it downloads the file instead of asking me to install. Help!

This is because the web server with the .XPI is improperly configured. Save the file to your computer and then open it using File >> Open. You will get the normal prompt to install the file.

Q3: I want to download a file from somewhere other than Mozilla Add-ons.

downloading from a site other than mozilla firefox add ons

Here is an example of downloading an extension from the popular technology blog Lifehacker.

firefox lifehacker install problem guide

After you click on the download link Firefox will display a yellow status bar at the top of your web browser (but still underneath your toolbar) because it doesn’t know if you trust extensions from lifehacker.com.

install firefox lifehacker guide allow blocked site

Click on the Edit Options button and it will bring up a window asking you to confirm if you trust this site for installing add-ons. Click on the Allow button followed by the Close button.

Then click on the original download link again and your install will proceed as normal.

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36 Responses

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  1. sunburntkamel said, on August 23, 2007 at 10:57 am

    i believe you mean

    (e.g. I use Canadian English)

    </semantics police>

  2. engtech said, on August 23, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    @sunburntkamel:

    It’s that Internet Explorer… it’s making me see IE everywhere. :)

  3. Diabolic Preacher said, on August 23, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    what is really tricky is the local install of .xpi files. they don’t always work as expected. if you want to keep a backup of your extensions i.e. if you save each .xpi file besides installing them, then you should check out MR Tech Local Install. When i tried opening .xpi from my disk with firefox, it further used to ask
    1. open with firefox or save to disk (yes. again)

    ….but then even MR Tech Local Install is an extension as well.

  4. sunburntkamel said, on August 23, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    heh, i know. it took me a couple reads to figure out what you meant, since Internet Explorer made no sense there ;)

  5. engtech said, on August 23, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    @Diabolic Preacher:

    I’ll try to expand that section of troubleshooting.

  6. bueller said, on August 23, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    whats firefox? jk jk

  7. [...] most recent tutorial is on how to install Firefox extensions, those browser add-ons that let you do everything from save your internet sessions to block ads. He [...]

  8. Top Posts « WordPress.com said, on August 24, 2007 at 12:36 am

    [...] How to Install a Firefox Extension (with screenshots) [image] One of my favorite features of Firefox is that users can modify it with extensions. No matter what it is you […] [...]

  9. [...] How to install a Firefox extension on Internet Duct Tape [...]

  10. [...] my previous guide I explained how to install a Firefox extension, and hopefully sparked some interest in why you would want to extend your web browser in the first [...]

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  13. Dutra said, on September 07, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    What about security?
    How do you know if a extension is secure or not?
    http://clipmarks.com/clipmark/8936A5F1-70FA-41C0-A704-E6383FF4192E/

  14. engtech said, on September 08, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    @Dutra:

    As with anything:

    - do I trust the author / web site it is hosted on?

    If something is hosted on the official mozilla website then I am confident it is secure.

    - am I on a secure PC?

    The article you linked to mentions an exploit that can happen over shared WiFi at coffee shops. Just like how I wouldn’t do my internet banking over shared WiFi, I wouldn’t install extensions or logged into accounts using http instead of https. That’s a problem with shared WiFi vulnerabilites, not a problem with Firefox extensions in particular.

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  17. sheeds said, on January 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    i restart firefox and greasemonkey still says it needs restart!! :(

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  23. highqualityarticles said, on June 14, 2008 at 7:20 am

    great post for newbies as it comes with excellent step by step screenshot.

  24. Gu said, on July 01, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    wou good yes good

  25. Doug said, on July 08, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Every time I get an .xpi file, it doesn’t install, but prompts me to save it – but it is not for the reasons that seem to be suggested everywhere – it is not a problem with the server sending the wrong MIME type – I had someone check the headers with
    an extension to prove this very thing.. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3829
    and this very extension would not install either – until I saved it and did a File Open.

  26. [...] – closes the ad window when done. Installation: – unzip and install add-on into FireFox (tutorial). Usage: – you must login to Big-Earn before bot will run; – go to the ‘surf’ page [...]

  27. britney said, on August 29, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    ive done everything im suppose to…but the download link thing on the facebook thing doesnt come up?
    what is wrong

  28. [...] (so progress can be seen when minimized); Installation: – unzip and install add-on into FireFox (tutorial). Usage: – you must login to the site before bot will run; – go to the ‘surf’ page (i.e. page with [...]

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  34. maddie said, on February 02, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    hey, i installed firefox, mozilla, everyting, and everything works fine. however, everytime i try to install an add-on, there is nogreen install button. it just says download and then my computer says ‘error, file not found’. i don’t know what to do, please help. email me at anime_grasp@hotmail.com

    thanks -maddie

  35. SalsaRoja said, on March 09, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    I’m having trouble with the add-ons I got from the official Mozilla page. Though themes are installing just fine, the extensions stay just sit there with the message “this add-on will be installed when Firefox is restarted.” It doesn’t matter how many times I restart Firefox, or shut down and reboot the computer. I checked the error console, and the message No chrome package registered for” followed by a given extension, keeps showing up.

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