My 5 must-have extensions for Firefox on Android (and what I use them for)

If you've already switched to Firefox on Android, or are considering making the switch, you might be interested in knowing the mobile browser supports extensions. Here are my favorites.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The Firefox Extensions menu.
Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Firefox is an outstanding choice for your default Android browser. It's more secure than Chrome and offers an abundance of features. One such feature is extensions. That's right; Firefox is one of the few mobile browsers that includes extensions and for anyone who's come to rely on them, they're a breath of fresh air.

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Extensions boost a browser's feature set to improve security, efficiency, and usability. Here are the extensions I've found to be must-haves for Firefox on Android.

Installing Extensions

Before starting the list, I want to mention how to install extensions. It's quite easy. Tap the menu button (in the top-right corner of the Firefox window) and tap Extensions. From within the Extension Manager, locate the extensions you want. Then tap the associated + button to install whatever you need, and okay the installation by tapping Add (when prompted).

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Each of these extensions is freely available and free to use. And now, to the list.

1. ClearURLs

Simply put, ClearURLs removes tracking elements from URLs. This is one of the first extensions I recommend because it helps protect your privacy while you browse the internet. ClearURLs also makes it easy to share URLs with others -- without having to remove the tracking elements manually.

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The extension can be enabled for both regular and private browsing, allow domain blocking, skip cleaning on local hosts, prevent tracking injection, display an entry in the context menu, block hyperlink auditing, and filter ETag headers from requests. You can also enable badges, and statistics, and even view how many elements were blocked.

A portion of the ClearURLs configuration page.

Tap the gear icon to access even more settings.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. NoScript Security Suite

NoScript Security Suite is one of the best security extensions for Firefox mobile. This extension protects against cross-site scripting attacks, cross-zone DNS rebinding, CSRF attacks, and ClickJacking attempts. NoScript Security Suite can be run in regular and private modes and has extensive settings for per-site permissions, appearance, and advanced settings, such as sanitizing cross-site suspicious requests and cross-tab identity leak protection.

You can even add individual sites to NoScript Security Suite and customize their permissions. You can also let certain sites run JavaScript, Flash, and other types of executable content.

The NoScript Security Suite settings page.

You can add specific sites to NoScript here.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Dark Reader

If you're a fan of dark mode, you'll want this extension. Dark Reader works on most sites -- even when Android's dark mode won't -- to invert bright colors on websites. If you're prone to grabbing your phone in the middle of the night and browsing, you've probably encountered websites that don't behave properly with Android's built-in dark mode. This extension solves that problem.

Also: How to add pop-up block exceptions in Firefox

As far as settings are concerned, you can customize Dark Reader on a per-site basis, or globally. You can access Dark Reader's settings by tapping the menu button in the top-right corner, going to Extensions, and then Dark Reader. On that page, you can customize the extension as needed.

Configuring Dark Reader for ZDNET.

You can configure Dark Reader on a per-site basis.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Video Background Play Fix

Do you ever open a video stream and listen to the output of the content while doing something else on your phone? Without Video Background Play Fix, the playback stops when you try to do something else. This extension lets you listen to the audio in the background while you do something else in another app.

So long as the video continues playing, you'll still hear the audio, no matter what you do on your phone. Background playback on YouTube is a premium feature, but you get it for free here. Like Dark Reader, there isn't much in the way of settings (beyond permissions and enabling the extension in private browsing mode).

5. Ghostery

No one likes things that slow down website performance, such as ads and tracking cookies. Ghostery blocks those things and also automatically removes intrusive cookie popups. With this extension, you get ad blocking, anti-tracking, and cookie removal with a single tap.

You don't have to worry about configuring Ghostery -- it just works. There are no settings to deal with (other than enabling it to run in private mode and the usual permissions), so there's zero learning curve. Add the extension to Firefox, and it should work in the background to keep you safe.

Tracking attempts blocked by Ghostery.

Ghostery automatically blocks a lot of tracking attempts.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

There you go. With these five extensions, your Firefox Mobile browser should be more secure, private, and easy to use. Consider these extensions a must for any instance of Firefox for Android you use.

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