Bring back the grid layout to YouTube's My subscriptions page

YouTube changed the look of its subscriptions page a few years ago, moving from a grid layout to a single-column view that requires a great deal more scrolling to view its wares. If you've been pining for the good ol' days of the My subscriptions grid view, there is an easy fix for Chrome and Firefox.

For Firefox, install the YouTube Subscriptions Grid add-on. After installing it and refreshing your subscriptions page, you'll see a grid layout with a lot less wasted space. On my 13-inch MacBook Pro, which features a 1,280x800-pixel screen resolution, the grid goes … Read more

Automatically remove tracking tokens from URLs in Chrome, Firefox

Urchin Tracking Modules, or UTMs, are tracking tokens added to URLs. They are a tool used by Google Analytics to help calculate the unique number of clicks on a specific link, navigation choices on a Web site, and how much time is spent looking at it. The namesake comes from Urchin Software, a company Google acquired in 2005. Google Analytics borrows a great deal of its structure and features from Urchin 6.

To get started, you'll just need to install a copy of the respective add-on for your Web browser.

For Chrome:

Head to the Chrome Web Store entry … Read more

MaskMe guards your privacy like a vigilant angel

Who hasn't bought something online, only to receive a torrent of marketing spam that follows you around like a rabid puppy?

Abine's new MaskMe browser add-on and mobile app, debuting Monday, ensure that you can use the Web while avoiding the data stalkers by preventing you from giving out your contact info in the first place.

MaskMe is a freemium add-on for Firefox (download for Windows | download for Mac) and Chrome (download for Windows | download for Mac) that creates and manages dummy accounts for your e-mail address, phone number, credit card, and Web site log-ins. Upgrading gets you … Read more

Use Onefeed to replace your New Tab page in Chrome

Newer versions of Chrome spruce up the New Tab page by adding some shortcuts to your most-visited Web sites or Chrome apps. A previous extension I wrote about, New Tab Page adds the weather, some headlines, and links to Chrome apps. Onefeed does all of this, plus a custom newsfeed and social media updates from Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also attach your Dropbox account, if you really want to.

To get started, just install a copy of Onefeed for Chrome from or from the publisher's Web site via the Get Onefeed button. You … Read more

Watch YouTube videos in Firefox's sidebar with Side Watch

Not all multitasking need be productive. If you like to watch YouTube clips while you are otherwise engaged in productive pursuits online, then you have likely juggled two windows, each resized just right so that you can conduct your business in one window while in the other your YouTube clip plays. If you don't mind clips playing in a very small video player, give Firefox add-on Side Watch a try. It lets you play YouTube clips in Firefox's sidebar so that you can keep a casual eye on a video without sacrificing much screen real estate.

When you … Read more

Automatically pause one audio stream in Firefox when another begins

I love both of my kids, but I don't enjoy it when they are both attempting to converse with me at the same time. Similarly, I love listening to Pandora when I'm at my desk, but I don't enjoy it when it is playing a song when I try to watch a YouTube clip. With the Be Quiet add-on for Firefox, you can prevent two audio streams from bombarding you simultaneously.

After installing Be Quiet and restarting Firefox, the extension will work in the background. If you are listening to Pandora in one tab and start watching … Read more

Connect to FTP with your Web browser using FireFTP

File Transfer Protocol may not necessarily be the safest way to transfer files, but it's still one of the most popular. If you need to use FTP to move files in your network, the browser add-on FireFTP makes it easy. It's Fire(fox) + FTP ... get it?

FireFTP only works with Firefox, of course. To use it, you need to have the browser installed first. Then once you've approved the addition of the FireFTP extension, it's tucked away nicely in the "Web Developer" menu.

FireFTP employs the dual-window interface of most standalone FTP clients, running … Read more

View lyrics for YouTube videos without looking them up

Sometimes the person or company responsible for uploading a music video on YouTube is kind enough to include the lyrics in the video information. If not, you probably end up opening another browser tab to find the lyrics so you can sing along (when no one else is listening). As a convenience for future song learning, there's a Web browser add-on that works with Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, which will allow you to see the lyrics while a video is playing. Here's how to get started:

For Chrome: Install a copy of YouTube Lyrics by Rob W from … Read more

Check memory usage for Firefox add-ons

Using many Firefox add-ons at once can cause the application to dramatically slow down. This is because for each add-on, you're using a piece of your computer's memory. The most obvious solution is to uninstall some of them, but perhaps that's not a good option for you.

As an alternative, try checking out how much memory each add-on is using. Firefox provides information on memory allocation (about:memory), but it isn't in the most user-friendly format. The next best option is to install yet another add-on. However, this particular add-on will report its own memory usage … Read more

How to identify nameless music tracks in your iTunes library

Commercial MP3s and other digital music files provide a wealth of information about the songs in addition to the audio-playback itself. This metadata makes it easy to display the track name, artist, album, and other facts about the songs in your playback device or program.

When you use an application such as the free Audacity audio-editing utility to convert music from LPs, cassettes, or another analog source, the only metadata accompanying the tracks is whatever information you provide when you create the digital file. There's the rub.

In July 2011 I described how to use Audacity to convert LPs and audio cassettes to digital. … Read more