These were the most popular browser extensions during the pandemic

The transition to working from home during the pandemic drastically changed the way in which we use technology with the browser becoming one of the most important tools for remote work.

Now as we've reached the two-year mark of the start of the pandemic, Mozilla has published a new blog post taking a closer look at which browser extensions were the most downloaded and used during the early days of the lockdown in Firefox.

As meetings went virtual with employees relying on video conferencing software like Zoom to connect with their teams, the browser extension Zoom Scheduler saw a 1,522 percent increase in installs. This is because it integrates Google Calendar with Zoom so that users can scheduler or start their Zoom meetings directly from their calendar.

Since remote workers also spent more time looking at their work from home monitors, the Dark Background and Light Text extension, which flips the colors of webpages to make them more visible, saw a 351 percent increase in installs at the beginning of the pandemic. Likewise, the Tree Style Tab extension also experienced a 126 percent increase in downloads as it can help users deal with tab overload by opening browser tabs in a cascading “tree” format similar to vertical tabs in Microsoft Edge

Protecting our privacy and staying entertained

Cybercrime ran rampant during the beginning of the pandemic so in addition to using a VPN and antivirus software when working remotely, Firefox users also began installing privacy extensions for their browser.

Cookie AutoDelete, which eliminates unused cookies whenever you close a tab in Firefox, saw its install numbers skyrocket by 386 percent and the browser extension also averaged more than 206k installs per month between March and May of 2020.

As remote workers used Facebook's social media platform to stay connected during lockdown, Mozilla's own Facebook Container was another popular browser extension. This extension isolates your Facebook identity into a separate “container” so that the social media giant can't track your moves around the web.

Blocking trackers was also important to those working from home during the pandemic which is why the Privacy Badger browser extension saw installs jump by 80 percent globally. An interesting thing about this browser extension is that it gets better at blocking trackers the longer you use it since Privacy Badger “learns” more about the hidden trackers you naturally encounter while online.

When it came to staying entertained while in lockdown, Firefox users installed the BetterTTV browser extension to alter the look and feel of Twitch, the Watch2gether extension to have watch parties with friends and colleagues online and YouTube Non-Stop to solve the problem of the video platform's annoying “Video paused. Continue watching?” prompt.

Regardless of which browser you're currently using, browser extensions can help add to your online experience and make the software and services you depend on while working from home even more useful.

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The most popular Firefox extensions of 2021 were both adblockers

Customizing Mozilla's browser with add-ons can give you a whole new experience when browsing the web though only one-third of Firefox users have installed an extension or theme.

Among the 100m+ users that did install an extension this year, adblockers were the most popular with Adblock Plus taking the top spot followed by uBlock Origin. Across the span of 2021, Adblock Plus had an average of over 6.1m daily users while uBlock Origin averaged just over 5m+ daily users over the course of the year.

While Adblock Plus led the charge at the beginning of the year, uBlock Origin was able to close the gap and if current usage trends among Firefox users continue, it may take the top spot in early 2022 according to a new blog post from Mozilla.

One of the reasons users choose Firefox as their preferred browser is to further protect their privacy online. While adblockers can stop ads from following you around the web, other popular extensions this year that protect against invasive tracking include Mozilla's own Facebook Container with 1.7m daily active users and Ghostery with 1.1m daily active users.

In addition to putting out a list of the most popular extensions each year, the Firefox Recommended Extensions program is a curated list of third party extensions that meet Mozilla's highest standards of security, utility and user experience.

For those who often find themselves drowning in a sea of open browser tabs, Tab Stash may be the perfect extension as it adds a toolbar button that when clicked, saves all of your open tabs as temporary bookmarks. If you're using Firefox Sync, the service will automatically show your Tab Stash bookmarks synced to other devices.

Another interesting extension highlighted by Mozilla is Stylebot. This extension gives you the power to dramatically alter the way any website looks from font sizes to color schemes to content layout. Perhaps you're intrigued by vertical tabs in Microsoft Edge? Then the Sideberry extension can be used to organize your open tabs in a cascading “tree” tucked away to the side of your browser.

While web browsers have certainly come a long way, extensions allow you to further customize their look and fell as well as their functionality which can help you be more productive or just have a better browsing experience overall.

We've also rounded up the best browser, best VPN and best proxy services

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