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Zotero and Other Handy Browser Extensions

Edit: The recording and slides of the Zotero presentation are now available!

Don’t forget to join us tomorrow at 1pm Pacific Time for an RML Rendezvous webcast all about Zotero. Our special guest presenter will be Lorena O’English, Social Sciences Reference & Instruction Librarian at Washington State University.

What is Zotero, you ask? It’s a free, open source extension for the Firefox web browser. Zotero allows you to collect, store, manage, and share all kinds of citations (for articles, books, websites, etc.) from right within Firefox. You can use it to generate bibliographies and to organize stored files such as PDFs. This chart from the University of Wisconsin – Madison Libraries shows how Zotero stacks up to some of the leading commercial citation management products.

While we’re on the subject of useful browser extensions, here are a few more of our favorites:

LibX, which works with both Firefox and Internet Explorer, lets you build and share custom toolbars for searching a library’s catalog and key resources. Sharon Dennis, Technology Coordinator for NN/LM’s Pacific Southwest Region, provides a step-by-step guide to LibX here.

If you’re like me, you like to keep lots and lots of Firefox tabs open at the same time. Faviconize Tab enables this habit. When I left-click on a tab and select Faviconize Tab, the width of that tab is reduced to the size of the small graphic, or favicon, associated with that page. This makes room for lots more tabs, which is especially helpful when I am working on a small laptop screen.

For more advanced tab management, try TabMix Plus, also for Firefox. Emily Ford, a reference librarian at Oregon Health & Science University, writes:

I love Tab Mix Plus so much!

Essentially Tab Mix Plus has such flexible utility that any one person will use it differently than another. One of the best features, I have found, is that any search I perform in my browser’s search bar will open in a new tab. That means that I don’t have to lose the page I was viewing just because I wanted to look for something else.  You can also force pop-ups to open in a new tab rather than as a pop up. It’s almost like magic!

Every once in a while, you encounter a web page that only works properly in Internet Explorer. If you are using Firefox, the IE Tab extension lets you simulate Internet Explorer without actually having to open another web browser. There’s a version of IE Tab for the Google Chrome browser, too.

Adblock Plus (for Firefox or Chrome) is another recommendation from Emily Ford.

When I’m on the web I want to be productive and not distracted by commercial product placement or ads. Like Tab Mix Plus Adblock Plus is incredibly flexible. You can subscribe to a filter that is already programmed to block certain things, and you can customize your filter if you want. (The one you can subscribe to is Creative Commons licensed!) Notice the difference between the two Yahoo! page displays? That’s the power of Adblock Plus.

Yahoo! homepage

Before Adblock Plus

Yahoo! homepage without ads

After Adblock Plus

Do keep in mind, though, that advertisements on health-related webpages can be an important indicator of bias. Know before you block!

Update Scanner is a handy Firefox extension for keeping track of changes to web pages that do not provide RSS feeds. An example: here at the RML, we are often looking for opportunities to exhibit or present at small, regional conferences related to libraries or health. Update Scanner alerts us when changes are made to the conference web pages. This helps us stay on top of proposal and exhibit deadlines.

If Update Scanner is not for you, here is a way to use Google Reader to track pages without RSS feeds.

What browser extensions simplify your life on the Web? Let us know in the comments.

I love Tab Mix Plus so much!!

Here’s the link to the page to use it as an add-on https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1122

Essentially Tab Mix Plus has such flexible utility that any one person will use it differently than another. One of the best features, I have found, is that any search I perform in my browser’s search bar will open in a new tab. That means that I don’t have to lose the page I was viewing just because I wanted to look for something else.  You can also force pop-ups to open in a new tab rather than as a pop up (it’s almost like magic!).

One Response to “Zotero and Other Handy Browser Extensions”

  1. Emily Says:

    That’s a good point about AdBlock Plus blocking things we need to know to properly evaluate information. (Thanks for adding that, Alison!) One of the cool things about using AdBlock Plus is that you can disable the extension in one click for any page that you’re on. Once you’ve installed the extension there’s a down arrow next to the ABP graphic, and you can easily choose from one of the following options:
    Disable on this site (e.g. nnlm.gov)
    Disable on this page only
    Enable AdBlockPlus (when you uncheck this you will view pages without the blocker).

    I hope these extra tips help!