20 Best Browser Apps of 2011

Whether you want to stay on top of your to-do list, find out who is tracking you online or sling a few birds at pesky pigs, here are 20 apps that are well worth your time.


Make Your Browser More Useful and Fun

Remember when you used your browser exclusively for surfing the Web -- visiting websites, reading articles and maybe watching a video or two?

Those days are long gone. Your browser is now a source of apps for games that you can play for hours, services that will keep you safe, and simple utilities that can be useful or fun. Read on to learn more about our choices for the 20 best browser apps of the year.

The Big, Bad Browser Quiz

The Web Browser Turns 15: A Look Back



As you surf the Web, you're not alone. Chances are, you're being followed by tags, tracking cookies, Web bugs, beacons and more. Ghostery helps you find out when and how you're being tracked, and gives you the power to put an end to it.

Ghostery is available for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari.



I review a lot of software for PCWorld. And after I'm done with the review, I uninstall most of the apps I test. But not LastPass.

I would be lost without this free password manager. With its ability to remember and generate secure passwords, LastPass may not be a flashy product, but it's one of my personal favorites.

LastPass is compatible with Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari and several mobile browsers.


Angry Birds

Since using LastPass has freed me from the hard work of generating and remembering passwords, I now have more time to focus on the important things in life. Like Angry Birds.

This insanely addictive game is available in a browser-based version. Just starting slinging away.

Angry Birds started as an app available through the Chrome Web store, but it is now compatible with all major browsers.


Speed Dial

It doesn't take much effort to access your favorite websites, but Speed Dial makes the task even simpler. Speed Dial creates a browser tab where you can store shortcuts to your favorite sites.

You can launch each site by pressing the appropriate shortcut keys, and you can use the tab view to peruse thumbnails of the sites you've added.

Speed Dial Firefox browser extension.



Struggling with a difficult decision? Instead of carefully weighing the pros and cons, why not let a Web app make the decision for you? RandomMagic features a virtual coin flipper and dice roller to help you make your choice.

And in case you're looking for help generating a password, the app offers random number and letter sequence generators, too.

RandomMagic Chrome app.


Adblock Plus

Adblock Plus may seem like an obvious choice for this list, but past praise shouldn't disqualify a great app from current inclusion. This add-on lets you block any and all ads from the sites you visit. What's not to like?

Adblock Plus add-on for Chrome and Firefox.

Online Privacy: How to Block Google Ads and Adjust Your Settings



If you spend so much time on Facebook that it feels as though you should have an always-on connection to the social network, Yoono is for you.

This browser app adds a sidebar to your Firefox browser window, enabling you to maintain constant contact with your social networks (such as Facebook, Flickr, MySpace and Twitter) and instant messaging apps (AIM, Google Talk and more). You can drag and drop content from the sites you're viewing to the sidebar for easy sharing.

Yoono browser app for Chrome and Firefox.



Speckie is a spell-checker that works in real time, alerting you to misspelled words and helping you correct them before you fire off a faulty email or submit a problematic Web form. Thanks, Speckie.

Speckie add-on for Internet Explorer.



When I'm surfing the Web, reading a great article and listening to an iTunes playlist in the background, all is right with the world. But when the tunes come to a screeching halt, I have to minimize the browser window and bring up iTunes in order to restart the music.

Or I did, until I installed FoxyTunes. This utility lets you control your favorite media player -- whether that's iTunes, Pandora, Windows Media Player or something else -- from within your browser window.

FoxyTunes utility for Firefox and Internet Explorer.



Slideshow is a browser app that transforms your photos into a slideshow.

Whether your images are stored on Flickr, Facebook, Google or Picasa, Slideshow can display them in a slick slideshow, which you can share via Facebook or Twitter.

Slideshow browser app for Chrome.



Like Adblock Plus, Xmarks gets a lot of good press because it's worth writing about.

The app works with, backs up and synchronizes your bookmarks across multiple browsers and computers. Keeping tabs on your favorite sites has never been so easy.

Xmarks browser app for Chrome Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari.



3D technology is available even in your Firefox browser window, thanks to FoxTab. This extension lets you see the Web in 3D -- sort of.

It offers a Speed Dial-like view of your favorite sites in 3D and lets you switch between open tabs in a 3D environment. FoxTab won't save the world, but it sure can be fun to use.

FoxTab extension for Firefox.


Super Mario Bros. Crossover

If you long for the days of classic Nintendo, you'll love Super Mario Bros. Crossover. This app lets you play Super Mario Bros. the way you remember it -- crappy graphics and all -- except that you can use other characters from your favorite Nintendo games, too.

Either you'll find yourself completely addicted, or you'll be incredibly relieved that video games have come so far in the intervening 20 years.

Super Mario Bros. Crossover app for Chrome.



Speaking of games that can eat up a lot of time, let's consider Entanglement.

This browser-based game lets you while away the hours trying to get tangled up and create the longest line possible. It's far more addictive than it sounds -- trust me.

Entanglement available for Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.


Download Statusbar

If you like Firefox but hate the way it handles downloads, you may love Download Statusbar.

This extension lets you dispense with Firefox's unwieldy downloads window, swapping it out in favor of a simple progress bar that resides in the lower left-hand corner of your browser window.

Download Statusbar extension for Firefox.



Another option for managing downloads in Firefox comes from DownThemAll. This browser extension lets you pause and resume downloads within Firefox, and it comes with a download accelerator designed to make file transfers take place four times faster than normal.

In addition, DownThemAll lets you download all of the links or images contained on a Web page, saving you even more time.

DownThemAll extension for Firefox.



Ge.tt makes it easy to share files -- even very large ones -- within seconds.

You decide which files to share, and Ge.tt helps get them to the intended recipient. You don't need an account to get started, and Ge.tt lets you view statistics detailing how many times your files have been downloaded.

Ge.tt available as a Chrome app, and is accessible to users of other browsers by visiting www.ge.tt.



Spotify gets all the press, but it's not the only music service worth a listen. Meet Rdio.

This Web app -- also available as a downloadable desktop client and as a mobile app -- lets you listen to music, ad-free. You can also follow friends with similar musical tastes in order to discover new tunes.

Rdio Web app, downloadable desktop client and mobile app.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

Related Slideshows