Greasemonkey is a powerful Firefox extension that allows users to change the layout and functionality of web pages. Every month hundreds of people write and release Greasemonkey “scripts” that anyone can add to their browser with a single click.
A good Greasemonkey script will change your daily use of the web in ways you can’t imagine being without. In the post below we highlight our seven favorite scripts published in the last month and offer a quick screencast that will show you how to use Greasemonkey in less than 5 minutes.
How to Start Using Greasemonkey in Less Than Five Minutes
Earlier this year we made a post introducing new users to Greasemonkey and it’s still one of our favorite things to point friends to. The words Greasemonkey and “scripts” might sound intimidating, but anyone can use them. It may take some technical skill to write these scripts, but anyone can use them to change their web experience.
RSS readers can click here to view the video.
Install the Greasemonkey Firefox plug-in.
If you set up Greasemonkey and ad nothing but the old standby Autopagerize script, you’ll already be thankful that you did!
Our Newest Favorites
Userscripts.org is the primary place to find new Greasemonkey scripts but there are literally hundreds posted every month. We took several hours this weekend to go through the last month of new and updated scripts on the site, we tested many more than we’ve highlighted here, and now we’d like to share our favorites. Some are new, some are just updated, all are very easy to use. Exploring all these scripts took a long time, but they can change how you use the web every day in just a few minutes.
We hope that after we share our favorites, you’ll leave comments pointing us to scripts we haven’t found yet.
Learning Page Popularity
Google Reader has an API that will show you how many subscribers a feed has there. This script puts that number in a little box in the bottom right corner of any page with Google Reader subscribers. For most blogs you can multiply this number by 2 or 3 and get an estimate of the total number of subscribers in all RSS readers.
You can find out all kinds of interesting things with this script. I knew, for example, that web comic XKCD was wildly popular – but I wouldn’t have suspected it was as popular as it is. Now I know. (To tell the truth it was another Greasemonkey script, Google FX, that pointed me at XKCD as a related search in earlier testing!) I also know that the “featured slideshows” feed at Slideshare.net has hardly any subscribers at all – that’s a shame but it makes me think I could find more hidden treasures there.
Many of us spend hours every day using GMail but that doesn’t mean we have to look at the official GMail logo all the time. This script makes it easy to put a different image in that space. In this case there are a couple of steps involved, but it’s really not that hard.
Once you’ve got Greasemonkey installed, go to the link for this script and add that too. Then, follow the link on the script page to the image file converter and upload the image you want to make your new Gmail logo. The converter page will give you a long set of characters that you can copy and paste into the Greasemonkey script on your computer. Just go in your browser to the “tools” menu, then Greasemonkey, then manage scripts. Select this one, edit it and then paste the code you got into the space in the file that’s described in the instructions in the text file.
We tried a number of different image sizes, trying to keep our images from being cropped, and finally found success in a 115X60px shot of my fiancee and I at the beach where we got engaged! Now I look at that every time I open GMail instead of the GMail logo!
We’re already using GMail labels more now that our most recently used ones are moved automatically to the top of the label list, thanks to this script. It works much better than numbering labels to overcome the alphabetization, as we’ve done before.
Wikipedia is great if you make sure not to take anything there on face value. A page’s edit history is almost as important as its content and this script adds a drop down box on every page that shows its edit history.
This script puts a video player on a page when there’s a link to a YouTube page that appears. It’s a time saver and will probably help you actually watch more videos that people are sharing if they are right there on the page for you. It can mess up the layout a little bit to have a video player thrown onto the page, but that’s usually ok.
There are a whole lot of cool Greasemonkey scripts out there for Twitter, but here are some of our recent favorites. See the screen shot below to see how they all look together.
Search.twitter.com is really understated in its placement on the Twitter site. This script ads a search box to the sidebar of every Twitter page!
It’s always nice to get some context whenever looking at a person’s Twitter profile page. This script places the most recent public replies they’ve received on their profile page sidebar.
The lack of nested replies is something that people used to complain a lot about in Twitter. This script inserts them into every page – making previously one-sided conversations immediately comprehensible.
What Are Your Favorites?
Those are our favorite new Greasemonkey scripts from the last month, what are some of your favorites? Greasemonkey is one of our favorite things about the web – there’s so much it can do! We’d love for you to share links here to your favorite scripts so we can all give them a try. There’s no need to accept the web as it’s delivered to you – it’s in your browser so you can interact with it almost however you like!