Browser Extensions


Neil Shephard


February 25, 2023

Most people use web-browsers a fair bit. There are a number of extensions available which make their use more stream-lined and efficient. This post covers those that I use. If there is something that you use regularly and find useful I’d love to hear about it (see links at top of page).

Browser Choice

I deliberately eschew Chrome and even its open-source relative Chromium because of the tracking built into the system. Instead I use Firefox as my main browser and for work I use Opera. I’ve also dabbled with Vivaldi which I quite like and should use more.

Most of the plugins discussed here work across browsers, although for Opera and Vivaldi it is often the case of installing the Chrome extensions which work because of the development/toolkit on which the browser is based.


Plugins/extensions add additional functionality to your browser. I use many for blocking adverts and trackers and I list those below and find they make browsing cleaner and faster (I also block many such sites via my router but that is a separate post). But protecting your privacy is not the only purpose of extensions, many can streamline your browser usage and workflow and that is the main focus of this article.

Firefox Extensions are available at Firefox Extensions, as mentioned those for Opera and Vivaldi are typically installed via the Chrome Web Store.


This is invaluable if you undertake any academic work and use citations. Once installed it adds a short-cut for generating BibTex and other citation formats from the page being visited. This can then be copy and pasted into your database with a few keystrokes.

It is possible to customise the fields that are included e.g. by default Abtract is not included, but its something I like to include in my citation database for a quick overview of what a paper is about.

Copy URL to Clipboard

Links are the blood of the internet and when reading and taking notes I like to link to the source I am using. This plugin makes it a doddle and will create a link to the page that is being viewed (or highlighted text) to a range of formats including Markdown, Org-mode, LaTeX, reStructuredText.

Binding each link type to specific keys means its incredibly easy to copy and paste links from browser to Emacs (where I do most of my writing).


Many papers are, unfairly given the research that paid for them is often from the public purse, behind PayWalls. Thankfully with the rise of pre-print servers such as arXiv, biorXiv, F1000 and the forthcoming Octopus pre-prints and alternatives to pay-walled articles are available and Unpaywall is a plugin that automatically finds them for you. Install it and when you visit an articles page if its behind a paywall but available freely elsewhere a green-symbol with an unlocked padlock appears on the right-hand side of your browser. If its not available this is a locked padlock on a grey background.


Everyone should use a Password Manager of some description, I use Pass: The Standard Unix Password Manager and to get it to work seamlessly with my browsers I use BrowserPass. It requires a little configuration so read the GitHub page carefully but once working it is seamless. I visit a web-site and because I organise my passwords to include the URL all I need to do is use Ctrl-Shift-f and if my GPG key is unlocked the password is entered for me. My GPG key is unlocked using my Yubikey so if this isn’t plugged in and unlocked I’m prompted to do so. Makes logging in to web-sites so much faster.


Probably only useful if you use the amazing “Capture” web-site, title and selected text to Emacs in Org-mode via org-protocol.

GitLab Notify

Get notifications from GitLab in your browser.


Not used this much as I only discovered it recently whilst working on this article but it improves navigation of GitHub repositories. The main, free, feature that is of most use is a sidebar to aid navigation of a repositories code. This can be pinned if required.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Binding actions you take with extensions to keyboard short-cuts can save a considerable amount of time, particularly if you are a heavy typist, as it saves the small amount of time taken to move the hand to the mouse, locate the pointer and move it to where it needs to be.

Not every extension has shortcuts associated with it, but for those that do in Firefox you can configure this by going to Add-ons and themes and at the top-right of the page listing the installed extensions, adjacent to Manage Your Extensions is a cog. Left-click on this once and a menu appears and at the bottom you can select Manage Extension Shortcuts. This allows you to bind “key-chords” (combinations of keys) to each plugins action. If there are conflicts (i.e. the same key-binding is bound to two actions) then these are highlighted and can be corrected.


These are but a few of the vast array of productivity extensions you can make use of. Which you find useful and would use will be dependent on your browser usage and work

Productivity Extensions

Extension Description Shortcut
BibItNow! Creates BibTex and other citation formats from web-pages. Really useful when browsing for journal articles, books and other sites that you want to add to your citation database. Alt-C
Copy URL to Clipboard Copy the URL of a page along with its title (or selected text) to any number of different link formats. Alt-m (Markdown); Alt-o (Org-mode).
Unpaywall Automatically provides links to free versions of pay-walled journal articles and books. Not Required
BrowserPass Auto-fill website login details stored in your Pass: The Standard Unix Password Manager. Ctrl+Shift-F
org-capture “Capture” web-site, title and selected text to Emacs via org-protocol. Ctrl-Shift-L
GitLab Notify Get notifications from GitLab in your browser. Not Available
Sci-Hub Now! Access papers on Sci-Hub. Not Available

Privacy Protecting Extensions

I’ve not gone into detail about the privacy protecting extensions I use but have listed them below. There is overlap/redundancy in what I’m using but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I do find it breaks some sites (e.g. Amazon) but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it encourages me to shop more ethically and I can always switch browsers if needs be.

Extension Description
ClearURLs Automatically remove tracking elements from URLs to help protect your privacy.
CookieBlock Automating Cookie Consent and GDPR Violation Detection.
DecentralEyes Protects you against tracking through “free”, centralized, content delivery. It prevents a lot of requests from reaching networks like Google Hosted Libraries, and serves local files to keep sites from breaking. Complements regular content blockers.
DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials Tracker blocking, cookie protection, DuckDuckGo private search, email protection, HTTPS upgrading and more.
HTTPS Everywhere From the Electronic Frontier Foundation, retired 2023 as most browser can be set up to use HTTPS by Default
I don’t care about cookies 3.4.6 Get rid of cookie warnings from almost all websites.
Temporary Containers Enhance your privacy in Firefox with Temporary COntainers
UTM Remover Remove Google Analytics UTM tracking parameters fromURLS for privacy.
UntrackMe Removes parts of URLs that track you (also worth enabling Do Not Track).
uBlock Origin Block adverts
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BibTeX citation:
  author = {Neil Shephard},
  title = {Browser {Extensions}},
  date = {2023-02-25},
  url = {},
  langid = {en}
For attribution, please cite this work as:
Neil Shephard. 2023. “Browser Extensions.” February 25, 2023.