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Firefox 4's best restartless add-ons

Unless you've been sleeping under a rock, or in a tent outside the Googleplex with an "I LOVE SCHMIDT" banner, you hopefully know that Firefox 4 supports restartless add-ons, or in developerese: bootstrapped extensions.

Unfortunately, however, the process of converting an existing add-on into a restartless wonder is far from simple. A few months ago, back when the Firefox 4 beta machine really got into the swing of things, the developer of the world's most popular add-on, Adblock Plus, described his laborious and infuriating attempt at making his add-on restartless -- and today, just a few days away from the final Firefox beta, there still isn't a single big-name restartless add-on to be found.

On the flip side, writing new restartless add-ons is a little easier. Uptake amongst developers still seems to be very slow, though. Add-ons for Firefox (AMO) only has about 80 add-ons tagged with 'restartless', and even less with the restartless add-on's SDK, 'jetpack'.

Then, of course, only a few of those add-ons are actually worth using! Read on for our pick of the best Firefox 4 restartless add-ons.

[Grab a copy of the latest Firefox 4 beta and try out each of add-ons!]

Tab Badge

If you keep Facebook, Twitter, Reader, Gmail, or any other 'social' app permanently open in a tab, check out Tab Badge.

Tab Badge simply puts a bright red notification counter into the tab that shows you how many messages (or RSS updates) are waiting to be read. It's especially useful if you use pinned tabs!


Pentadactyl is probably the weirdest and coolest add-on we've ever seen. It turns Firefox into a Vim-like client by removing all of the browser chrome and tacking a Vim console at the bottom.

If you're not a Vim lover (and let's face it, Emacs is far superior), you should probably shy away from Pentadactyl -- or at least be sure to hit :help soon after installing.

Grooveshark Remote Control

This handy little add-on lets you control Grooveshark playback from Firefox 4's add-on bar (which replaces the status bar at the bottom of your screen). You can only pause or hop forwards/back -- but hopefully the next version will let you search and queue up more music.

GReader Panel

Another add-on that utilizes Firefox 4's add-on panel is GReader Panel, which does exactly what you think: it pops up your Google Reader feed. Rather than use the normal large-screen Web version, it uses the mobile version. Cool!

Mozilla Labs: Lab Kit

The beautiful irony of this one is that it doesn't actually work with the latest beta build of Firefox -- but no doubt, once the final release of Firefox 4 is out, it will work a treat!

Mozilla Labs: Lab Kit downloads the latest Mozilla Labs add-ons, including the Prospector add-ons and the social sharing tool, F1. Lab Kit also automatically keeps the add-ons up-to-date.

Mozilla Labs: Home Dash

Labs' odd-but-cool tab organizing add-on, which we've covered a couple of times before, is restartless! Unlike Mozilla Labs' other recent creations, it's not included in the Lab Kit, so you have to grab Home Dash manually.


Bringing HTML5esque drag-and-drop magic to Firefox in the form of a restartless add-on is drag2up. The Chrome version, which we've covered before, is excellent -- and the Firefox version seems to be exactly the same!

Basically, drag2up lets you drag files from your desktop into any text box on any Web page. It then uploads the file to a file dump (such as Imgur for images), and pastes a link to the image in the text box. It's great for quickly sharing images on forums.

Alternative RuneScape Gamebar

Finally, one for the gamers! Alternative RuneScape Gamebar gives you quick access to all of your active trades on the Grand Bazaar, and notifications whenever a Distraction & Diversion becomes available again. It also includes a clock -- and there doesn't seem to be a way to remove it...

We're looking for more restartless add-ons, and add-ons that only work with Firefox 4 -- so if you've come across any, please leave a comment!

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