Monitor webpage changes with Distill Web Monitor

Distill Web Monitor is a free browser extension for the Google Chrome and Firefox web browsers that you may use to monitor webpages for changes.

Internet users have some options when it comes to monitoring changes on webpages. They may use RSS for that if the site uses it, or extensions or services that monitor changes.

Monitoring changes can be useful in many regards: to monitor price changes for items of interest, be informed about updates, or changes to the availability of items.

Distill Web Monitor

distill web monitor

Distill Web Monitor is available for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera officially. The free version requires no account but is limited in several key aspects.

You can add up to 25 page monitors to the extension of which up to 5 may be cloud monitored. Paid versions increase the limit and other parameters.

Distill Web Monitor adds an icon to the browser’s address bar that acts as one of the indicators for changes and is used to create and manage new monitoring tasks.

A click on the icon displays current monitors and options to add a monitor. Monitored pages with changes are displayed at the top of the list; a click opens the page in a new browser tab directly.

Buttons at the top provide you with options to stop the monitoring process, mark all changes as read, or open all pages with changes in new tabs in the browser.

New monitors are added easily using the extension. You have the option to monitor the entire page or select parts of the page.

Full page monitoring is easier to set up but it may result in false positives as all parts of a page are monitored for changes.

monitor web pages

The custom monitoring option works similarly to how Inspectors work in the Developer Tools. Just move the mouse over an element that you want tracked and click on it. You can click on multiple items to add them all to the list of monitored items.

Advanced users may use different selectors and even add items to the list of monitored items manually. A click on “save selections” saves the selections and opens the second configuration page.

website monitor

Distill Web Monitor tracks changes on pages using JavaScript by default. You may disable that, and the main reason why you want to disable JavaScript tracking is that Distill opens each monitored page in a browser tab on the left side of the tab bar when JavaScript is used.

You can change the name of the monitored page and the interval, e.g. to every 5 minutes or once a day. Last but not least, you may enable audio or popup notifications for local monitors. Email monitors are supported as well but you need to create an account to use them.

Closing Words

Distill Web Monitor is a useful extension for Internet users who want to keep track of items on web pages. You may use it to monitor prices, updates, the availability of items, or the relationship status of your secret crush on Facebook.

The main limitation of the free version is the number of items that you monitor and the notification methods that you may configure. Paid versions increase the limit and unlock additional functionality.

Now You: do you use tools to monitor webpages?

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Containers with Transitions makes Firefox Containers more useful

Containers with Transitions is a brand new Firefox extension that improves the functionality of Mozilla’s own Multi-Account Containers extension for Firefox.

Mozilla launched Containers as a Firefox Test Pilot project in 2017; the organization did not integrate Containers natively after the Test Pilot project ran its course but released the Multi-Account Containers extension instead. Firefox users who wanted to make use of Container functionality in the browser could install the extension to add support for it to the browser.

Third-party developers created specialized Container extensions, e.g. to restrict Facebook, Google, or YouTube to a container to limit tracking. Temporary Containers on the other hand creates self-deleting containers.

Containers with Transitions

container rules firefox

Containers with Transitions is a fork of Mozilla’s Multi-Account Containers extension that takes Mozilla’s extension and improves it. The extension supports all features of Multi-Account Containers; you may use it to maintain a set of containers, and load sites into containers to separate their data from others.

What Containers with Transitions adds is the following: the ability to create rules to define in which container links are opened that are activated from specific domains that are open in containers.

Here is an example: say you open Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit in a container. You could create a new container, e.g. Clickbait or NSFW, and specify that any link opened on the original site in the source container is loaded in the new container.

Another example: open any link opened on Google or another search engine in a “Search” container instead of the current container to limit tracking.

Basically, what Containers with Transitions does is automate the process of opening links from specific domains in specific containers. While you can right-click on any link to open it in a specific container, using automation speeds up that process significantly especially if that is the desired action all the time.

Creating rules

containers with transitions

The rules creation process is slightly complicated; the extension adds two rule option named default and domain.

Default rules open any external link that is activated in a container in a selected container, e.g. any link in the Search container is opened in the Temp container.

Domain rules supersede default rules. You may use them to specify a container that you want to open a domain in when a link that points to it is activated.

Default rules

  1. First thing you need to do is open the source page, e.g. facebook.com, in a Container after installation of the extension. One option to do so is to open the page, activate the Containers with Transitions icon, and select one of the available containers.
    • Tip: check the “always open” box to always open the domain in the selected container.
  2. Activate the Containers with Transition icon again while the source page is active in the browser (and loaded in a container).
  3. Select “Edit Default Rules”.
  4. Select the Source container.
  5. Select the desired container for external links opened from that container.

Domain rules

  1. Open the source domain in a container, e.g. images.google.com in any container.
  2. Select the extension icon and when it opens “Edit Domain Rules”.
  3. Select the “>>” icon and select the “Google” container as the target.

The rule opens any link pointing to images.google.com in the Google container.

Closing Words

Containers with Transitions adds new options to the Containers functionality of the Firefox browser. Firefox users may use it for two purposes: always open links from a specific domain in another container or always open a specific domain in a specific container.

Now You: Do you use Containers?

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Bookmarks Organizer 3.0 for Firefox includes whitelist functionality

Sören Hentzschel released a new version of the bookmarks management extension Bookmarks Organizer for the Firefox web browser. Bookmarks Organizer 3.0 includes a new whitelisting functionality and other improvements.

Sören released the first version of the extension in 2017; Bookmarks Organizer is a WebExtension which means that it is compatible with all recent versions of the Firefox web browser. The extension filled the gap that the removal of Firefox’s classic system for add-ons created as classic bookmark management extensions stopped working as a consequence.

Bookmarks Organizer runs scans on all bookmarks of the browser to find dead, duplicate, or redirecting links. Firefox users who run the extension may deal with the results in bulk or on a case-by-case basis.

Bookmarks Organizer 2.0 was launched in March 2018. The new version fixed some issues in the extension, introduced translations, and improved performance.

Bookmarks Organizer for Firefox

bookmark organizer 3.0

Bookmarks Organizer 3.0, released in December 2018, is a major new release; it features whitelist functionality to exclude certain bookmarks from the extension’s scans.

Whitelist functionality is useful in certain situations; when resources that links point to are not available all the time, when redirects or other issues with bookmarks should be ignored, when resources require authentication, or when the scanning of a resource causes delays or issues.

Bookmarks can be added to the whitelist after scans and only if they are listed in the results. Just select the “add to whitelist” option next to the result to exclude it from future scans. The usual options to edit or delete bookmarks are available as well.

Some Mozilla domains were added to a skip list as these cannot be checked according to Sören for “security reasons”.

Existing users of Bookmarks Organizer may notice that the number of bookmarks is updated automatically and right away when new bookmarks get added.  The reliability of checks for broken bookmarks was improved in the new version as well.

Bookmarks Organizer 3.0 includes several fixes and a Chinese version. The new version fixes a display issue that affected the visibility of the mass action buttons among other things.

I ran into a display issue for scanned bookmarks that I added during a browsing session. Bookmarks Organizer would not display the bookmarks in its listing; only the “deal with” options to remove bookmarks were displayed. A restart and rescan fixed the issue.

Closing Words and verdict

Bookmarks Organizer 3.0 is a well designed browser extension for Firefox; it is most useful to Firefox users who maintain medium to large sets of bookmarks.

Firefox users can run scans on all bookmarks to find dead, duplicate or bookmarks without name, and deal with those. The new whitelist feature of Bookmarks Organizer 3.0 is a welcome addition as it introduces an option to exclude certain bookmarks from scans by the extension.

Now You: What is your bookmarks count right now?

 

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Manage Firefox tabs, bookmarks and containers in the sidebar

Sidebery is a new extension for the Firefox web browser to manage browser tabs, bookmarks, and containers in the sidebar.

The default sidebar of the Firefox web browser may display bookmarks or the browsing history already; Sidebery extends the functionality by adding open tabs and containers.

The extension adds a new sidebar to Firefox to control open tabs, containers, and bookmarks. It displays an icon bar at the top that you use to navigate between the different elements. You may close and open the sidebar with a tab on F1, or by pressing Alt and selecting View > Sidebar > Nav Center.

A click on the bookmark icon displays the bookmark structure and options to navigate it.  A left-click on any bookmark opens it in the current tab, a middle-click in a new tab.

You can use keyboard modifiers to open links, or the right-click menu to get advanced options such as loading bookmarks in specific containers. You may use the menu to edit or delete bookmarks right from the sidebar.

firefox sidebar container tabs

Open tabs are displayed in a vertical layout that uses multiple levels to indicate relationship. The default tabs listing displays all tabs except for those that are loaded in containers.

The right-click menu displays options to load open tabs in a container, to move it to a new window or private browsing window, and to run operations on it such as mute, pin or duplicate.

There is also a useful “clear cookies” option that you may use to clear cookies set by that domain.

A click on a container icon displays tabs loaded in that container; a double-click opens a new tab in the container. The right-click menu displays the same operations that you get in the regular open tabs listing.

Sideberry supports the creation of new containers from the sidebar. A click on the settings icon lists customization options; lots of them.

You may change click actions, e.g. that a double-click on a tab reloads it or mutes it, or that a long left-click clears the cookies.

Bookmarks can be opened in new tabs automatically, horizontal scroll may be enabled to switch between panels using the mouse, or you may change the theme and default font size.

The settings listing displays supported keybindings.  You may use Alt-G to select all items, switch between containers using Alt-Period or Alt-Comma, or use Ctrl-Delete to delete the active tab.

Switching between panels may change the active tab automatically. You can disable that in the settings if you prefer to keep the current tab active before you switch to another panel in the sidebar.

Closing Words

Sideberry is a powerful extension for Firefox that improves tab, bookmarking and container management. It is especially useful to Firefox users who run Mozilla’s Containers extension as it improves the management of container tabs  in Firefox.

Now You: Do you use containers in Firefox?

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Save Firefox tabs with Set Aside

How do you use your web browser? Do you keep tabs open when you close it and reload the session to continue where you left off? Start with a blank page and nothing else? Use bookmarks to save important sites for safekeeping?

Depending on how you use the browser, you may be interested in a new extension called Set Aside. Set Aside is a Firefox add-on that saves any tab that is open so that you have a record of all the sites of a saved group. You may then re-open the entire group of tabs or individual sites at a later point in time.

The functionality may remind veteran Firefox users of Panorama, a removed feature that could be used to create tab groups and switch between them. Set Aside does not replicate Panorama fully, though.

There are three main use cases for using Set Aside: to save a set of tabs for safekeeping, to save memory, or to save all open tabs to start anew without losing information.

Set Aside for Firefox

firefox set tabs aside

Set Aside is simple to use. Installation is straightforward; a new icon is added to Firefox’s tabbar after installation that you may interact with.

A click on the icon moves all open tabs, with a few notable exceptions, to a “set aside” group. Means, all open tabs are closed and moved to a group for safe keeping and future access.

Tabs that use internal protocols and some other protocols, e.g. about:, file:, or moz-extension:, are not closed in the process and exempt from the process because there is no option to open them again according to the developer.

Any regular tab is added to a group. You manage group in the browser’s sidebar; open it either with a tab on Alt and the selection of View > Sidebar > Tabs you’ve set aside or by using Ctrl-B to open the Bookmarks sidebar and selecting Tabs You’ve Set Aside from the sidebar selection menu.

The number of saved tabs, date and time are listed for each group you saved. Set Aside displays a thumbnail image of the first saved tab and the title of the page. A click would load it right away in Firefox; options to browse all saved tabs are provided when you hover over the thumbnail.

A click on restore tabs restores all saved tabs at once. Note that Set Aside removes the tab from the group when you open it so that its use is limited when it comes to tab backups. Other extensions, e.g. Session Boss, provide better backup capabilities.

Closing Words

Set Aside is a useful extension for Firefox for some browsing scenarios. While it is certainly possible to achieve the same in a different manner, e.g. by using multiple browser windows to separate tabs, Set Aside may be easier to use in some cases and reduces memory usage as well.

I would like to see functionality to switch from a thumbnail view to a list view, and keep the saved sites in the group even when they are loaded again in Firefox.

Now You: Do you use a “Set Aside” type add-on for Firefox or other browsers?

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post Save Firefox tabs with Set Aside appeared first on gHacks Technology News.