The transition to working from home (opens in new tab) during the pandemic drastically changed the way in which we use technology with the browser (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) taking a closer look at which browser extensions (opens in new tab) were the most downloaded and used during the early days of the lockdown in Firefox (opens in new tab).
As meetings went virtual with employees relying on video conferencing software (opens in new tab) like Zoom (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab) in Microsoft Edge (opens in new tab).
Protecting our privacy and staying entertained
Cybercrime ran rampant during the beginning of the pandemic so in addition to using a VPN (opens in new tab) and antivirus software (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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.