Many of us spent a large portion of their time on computer browsing Internet for variety of purposes such as surfing websites, checking email, chatting, passing time on social interaction websites, blogging and many other activities. A lot of us are using Firefox as their browser of choice for the surfing/browsing needs on the Internet. Sometimes when busy on a task in FireFox we need to quickly launch an external application from windows such as calculator to do some calculation, a note taking/reminder application or simply a blogging client to write a quick post about something that grabbed our attention , open a folder in windows explorer to look for a file. In all the mentioned scenarios and many others normally we will minimize the Firefox window and run the required application from “Desktop” or “Start Menu” or simply open “MyComputer” to navigate to a folder. This procedure does take some time and more importantly distracts from the actual task at hand in Firefox. It could be a good idea if we can run our favorite application directly from Firefox without actually locating it on the desktop or start menu and executing it. External Application Buttons is an extension for Firefox that is built precisely for this purpose to launch external applications from with in the Firefox.
External Application Buttons (Modified Version) is a modified version of the original extension External Application Buttons that allows it work with Firefox 2.0 and above. However in my experience you may need Nightly Tester Tools to make it compatible with newer Firefox 3.0 beta 2. After installation simply open the customize toolbar dialog and drag & drop the “Applications” button on the desired toolbar. Now just select the “New Button…” option from the context menu that appears by right clicking the button that you added to the toolbar. Strangely the button appears invisible after the first time you add it to the Firefox toolbar, but it is there and will allow you to create new application buttons and when you add new buttons they will not have any problem with visibility.
Here are some of the other notes about this extension:
- Tooltip can be adjusted for each of the buttons that you add.
- You can set your own icon path and size for each of the buttons that you add to the toolbar.
- By default it automatically picks the icon of the application that you assigned with the button.
- You can set relative paths as well if needed. They can come handy if you are using Portable Firefox on a flash Drive as you can copy the portable applications that you are calling from the Firefox to flash drive as well, and call them from any computer that you attach your flash drive and use portable Firefox. As a side note, I have copied some of the essential utilities in my Firefox profiles folder exactly for this purpose.
- You can set shortcut keys for your custom made buttons. You can quickly execute an application associated with a button this way instead of clicking the button.
- Arguments can be passed to the application. I use it to pass argument “D:\downloads”to “explorer.exe” to quickly open my downloads folder in the windows explorer.
- You can also execute normal files(audio,video and office documents etc.) instead of exe files, provided the the files have a default associated application in windows explorer. I use it to open “notes.doc” file in Open Office using this way. I have just provided the path of the notes.doc in the button, but it is automatically opened in Open Office because I have associated doc files with the Open Office in Windows.
In my opinion this extension is a productivity booster for Firefox users and should be on the agenda of any loyal Firefox user.
[Update] Please take a look here for a better alternative to launch applications directly from Firefox!
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