Using iMacros for Firefox: A Visual, Step-By-Step Tour
One of the best pieces of news related to the recent release of version 3 of Mozilla’s Firefox browser is that most popular extensions now work with it. In this post, I’ll present an extensive guided tour to my favorite, free Firefox extension of all: iMacros. If you spend a lot of time in Firefox, and especially if you perform a lot of repetitive tasks each day, iMacros can save you tons of time and hassle. It sits in your Firefox toolbar, and lets you record tasks whether they are oft-performed web development tasks, or simple tasks such as opening a series of tabs you use each day. Here, in pictures, is how it works.
Toolbar Availability and The Pop-Up Pane
After you install iMacros, it sits in your Firefox toolbar as an icon. It’s the gear-like icon on the right, just next to the address bar here.
If you click on the iMacros icon, it opens up a pane in Firefox, on the left, with a list of your favorite macros, as seen here (your list of favorites will probably become much longer than this list).
A macro is simply a set of steps to be executed in order, and many people shy away from the enormous efficiencies they offer because they think macros require programming. Not so. In iMacros, you can just hit a record button, begin performing a set of tasks you’d like to save as a macro, and hit stop after the last task in the macro. As you can see here, in the pop-up right next to your favorites list, a little tabbed module makes it about as easy to record macros as it is to operate a DVD player.
An Example: Recording and Saving a Macro
In this example of a macro recorded in iMacros, I will record a macro titled “Tabbed Sites,” and its purpose will be to open separate tabs in Firefox for three of my favorite web pages that I visit every day: WebWorkerDaily, GigaOm, and OStatic. To begin with, I just hit Record in the tabbed dialog seen above, and iMacro lets me know in red here that it is recording my subsequent actions.
While iMacros is recording, I will then open the home pages for the three web sites in separate tabs, and iMacros will show me my list of actions as seen at the bottom of the list at left.
My final recording step is to hit Stop, just under the Record option in the tabbed dialog we started out with. I then hit Save, which is located just under the Record button, and enter the name of my macro, which is “Tabbed Sites,” in this dialog that pops up.
Now, as you can see here, the saved and named macro “Tabbed Sites” is at the top of my list of favorite macros.
Using iMacros for Super Bookmarks
One of the best of all uses for iMacros is to use it for super bookmarks. To do this, first right-click on the macro that you want to bookmark, and click Add to Bookmarks, as seen here.
This will bring up a dialog box, and you want to click on the Local option seen here.
And voila, you can see the “Tabbed Sites” macro listed at the bottom of my Bookmarks menu in Firefox, here.
Get to know iMacros if you use Firefox. If you perform a lot of repetitive HTML, CSS or other web development tasks, it can be particularly useful for letting you record a series of actions you want to be able to repeat. Similar to how my Tabbed Sites macro worked, you can also save different collections of open tabs for favorite sites (perhaps Favorite News Sites, Favorite Blogs, etc.), and have them all open in separate tabs automatically in one step, whenever you want. There are many more time-saving uses for this extension.