By Jay Garmon
Firefox is famous for offering add-ons that improve the functionality of the browser but few users think to customize Firefox to make holiday shopping easier. We offer up a list of the best Firefox shopping add-ons that will streamline your online purchases and ensure your get the best deal available.
Before tricking out your Firefox installation to stuff stockings better, faster and cheaper, you'd best peruse our list of the top overall Firefox add-ons. For those of you that are wary of online commerce, our rundown of the best Firefox security add-ons will give you the confidence to conduct Internet transactions without fear of identity theft. From there, it's just a question of which shopping super-chargers best fit your tastes and needs.
Invisible Hand - If you only install one Firefox shopping add-on, Invisible Hand should be it. Invisible Hand runs in the background until you arrive at a product listing page, then scans the web for lower prices for that product using the PriceGrabber shopping search engine (full disclosure: Notebook Review also uses PriceGrabber). If it finds a lower price, Invisible Hand displays a yellow alert bar at the top of your browser showing how much you can save. If it can't beat the price you see onscreen, Invisible Hand stays invisible. Set it, forget it, and shop secure in the knowledge you're getting the best price your browser can find.
Price Blink - The Price Blink Firefox shopping add-on is just like Invisible Hand, only better. Whatever product you're viewing online, Price Blink will find a lower price if one exists online. Moreover, Price Blink includes shipping costs in its price comparisons so you don't get stung by the classic "our price is a dollar lower but we charge five dollars extra to ship to you" scam. Price Blink also includes coupon code discounts that simply price-scrapers miss, and it can often link you to composite user reviews of the products you're viewing. I'd recommend Price Blink over Invisible Hand but for one drawback: it only compares prices for US merchants, which means overseas users can't really employ it, and any discounts from overseas vendors don't make it into your price comparisons.
Offer Assistant - The Offer Assistant Firefox shopping add-on also mimics the Price Blink/ Invisible Hand background price comparison functionality but compares prices from a more limited selection of mainstream US merchants. What makes Offer Assistant compelling is its integration with customer loyalty and rewards programs. Do you have an airline miles credit card that favors certain merchants? Offer Assistant can prioritize price-comparison results that maximize your rewards payouts. While you may not save as much money as you would with Price Blink or Invisible hand, you can still come out ahead by racking up your rewards points with optimal efficiency.
Add to Amazon Wishlist - Even veteran Amazon shoppers often fail to realize that you can build wishlists of products on Amazon, and that those wishlists can include items (and prices) not found on Amazon itself. With the Add to Amazon Firefox add-on, simply click the Amazon icon and whatever product you're viewing is added to your Amazon wishlist. Specify which on-page image to use, add a quantity, note a price and clip a note to each entry so you always get the right size, version or style. It's like building the perfect letter to Santa, but with less work and better e-mail support.
Click & Clean - One of the easiest ways to spoil a holiday gift surprise is to leave an obvious clue in your web browser history. The Click & Clean Firefox add-on erases the form auto-completes, surfing history, and user cookies that snooping friends and family could stumble over on a shared computer. Never worry about being ratted out by Firefox again.
Panic Button - The only thing worse than someone stumbling on a surprise gift in your browser history is someone stumbling in on a surprise holiday purchase while it's happening. That where the Panic Button Firefox add-on comes in. Click the big orange exclamation point icon and Panic Button will instantly hide all your open browser windows, keeping prying eyes off your secret shopping. (Works great on nosy office-mates, too.)
Screengrab - Some days you need the modern equivalent of tearing a page out of product catalog or magazine advertisement, and the Screengrab Firefox add-on is it. Convert all or part of any web page into a saved image that you can refer to later. It's like a bookmark that leaves less evidence, which what every Secret Santa occasionally needs.
TinEye Reverse Image Search - What if you have a image of the perfect present but have no idea what it's called, where to buy it or how much it costs? Enter the TinEye Reverse Image Search Firefox add-on, which will find every instance -- including the original -- of any given image on the web. It may require a little surfing but you'll be converting those oft-covet photos into holiday purchases in no time.
Think we've missed some vital Firefox holiday shopping add-ons? Sound of in the related discussion.
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