Firefox, Part (5): Extensions – NoScript

You’ve been introduced to two extensions thus far, Tiny Menu and Quick Restart. These are quite specific and very small changes that make Firefox just a little bit more comfortable. However, there are some extensions that make a huge difference, to the point where they are essentially a completely new program!

A word of caution: Firefox is known to be a memory hog, and every extension you add will increase memory usage. So don’t go too crazy and download a ton of extensions, as you’ll slow down Firefox tremendously. Start with all the ones that look interesting, and then pare them down afterwards (either just disable or completely uninstall them) to the ones that you feel you need.

The first extension you should get is NoScript. This one has become quite popular. It functions to completely block all JavaScript except on those web sites that you allow. Many sites absolutely require JavaScript, and so using it will create a bit of a headache of you do a lot of random stumbling about the Internet. But it is worth it. Sites also use JavaScript to make popups, launch videos, and do other similar things that can be of great annoyance. After installing it, you’ll find that you see fewer adds and have a generally more pleasurable surfing experience. JavaScript can also be used for more malicious purposes.

Once you’ve installed NoScript and restarted Firefox, you’ll need to do a little configuring to make it behave the way you’d like.

See that banner at the bottom of my website? It looks like this:

This will appear on any and all websites for which there are scripts being blocked. I find this rather annoying, especially for sites that I want to be blocked. If you like that kind of notification, by all means leave it. If not, click the “Options” button to the right of the banner. You’ll see a list that looks like the screenshot to the right. Each item on the list is a script.

The scripts that have the red circle and slash through them are the ones that are currently allowed. It has the red mark because if you click it then you will be blocking that script. So, the ones that are just a blue “S” with a white background are those that are currently forbidden. Click to allow them.

The bold item will be the main site that you are looking at. You should click that to allow my site to run scripts. I promise they are only useful ones. :)

Anyway, you’ll have to do this for each site that you want to be able to use scripts. Again, this is a pain, but you only have to do it once.

One of the great features is the Temporarily Allow option. This allows that script for the duration of your Firefox session (the time between one launch and the next), but does not add it permanently to the whitelist. So, if you’re not sure which scripts you need to make some site run properly, you can just use the temporary function until you find the ones that work. That way all the other scripts will still be blocked the next time you start Firefox.

Back to getting rid of the banner. At the top of the list is another “Options”. Click that, and you should get a window to pop up. Here you can modify the behavior of NoScript, add sites to the whitelist, etc. You can also change the way you are notified of blocked scripts. To do this, click the Notifications tab.

You have a few options here. You can tell NoScript to play a sound when it blocks a script (would be really annoying) if you want. You can also tell it not to “Show message about blocked scripts”. That message is the banner at the bottom of your window. Or, if you like the banner idea to draw your attention, you can have it disappear after a define amount of time.

Once you have done this you’ll not see that banner again, but will instead see a tiny blue “S” in a white circle at the bottom right of your window (the right side of the “status bar”). You can simply click this to display the list of scripts. If there is a red slash through it, that means you are blocking scripts. If a site doesn’t seem to be working properly, then you are likely blocking some important scripts. Just click the “S” and allow the appropriate sites, and you’ll be good to go.

Back to Part (4) | Continue to Part (6)

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