One of the things that I absolutely love about Opera is the Speed Dial that was introduced back in Opera 9.2 almost exactly one year ago. It basically adds thumbnail images of your 9 favorite sites to the page that is displayed when you open a new tab.
Well, like most great features it didn’t take long for a Firefox extension to appear that offered a similar concept. The extension fell short in a lot of different areas, and I didn’t feel as though it stacked up very well against what Opera was offering. It turns out that there is a better one available called Fast Dial that is much much closer to Opera’s Speed Dial, and actually has some rather unique aspects to it:
- Up to 36 different sites can be added (6×6).
- Hotkeys! Just like Opera you can use hotkeys to access your first 9 sites. However, with this extension you can actually customize the hotkey that’s used in conjunction with the number.
- Specify a custom image to be used for the thumbnail. This way you can just use a site’s logo if you don’t want to actually have a screenshot.
- Customize the appearance so that it looks the way you want it to. For example, I changed the background color in the screenshot above from being white to a darker gray. You can also change the font and several other colors used in the extension.
- You can add files/images from your desktop! For example, you can add a link to a PDF or a DOC file that you frequently need to access. You’ll want to specify a custom image for the thumbnail image though because it won’t be able to generate a preview. Note: Firefox will prompt your with the open/save box assuming that the file can’t be displayed within Firefox.
- Right-click on a site or tab to quickly add it to the Fast Dial.
- Drag and drop to rearrange the different items.
The only thing that I’ve found this extension to lack is dragging and dropping bookmarks/URLS onto a blank square which I believe eases the setup process. Admittedly this extension is the closest thing I’ve seen to Opera’s Speed Dial, and it even has some aspects that I like better. From now on I don’t think I’ll be using Firefox without this extension.