The Top 9 Add-ons for IE9

These days it's safe to say that we're spoilt for choice when it comes to Internet browsers. Some became popular because of their ability to run add-on programs that really enhance their functionality, but what you might not know is that Internet Explorer 9 can do this too. In fact, some of them will help make your browsing experience quicker and easier than any other browser out there.

The chief way IE9 can be enhanced is through tools such as Accelerators. These are unique to IE9 and use a clever technology that brings information from another web site into the page you're looking at, making it quicker and easier to do what you want to do online.

For example, traditionally, if you want to find out more about something on a page your reading, you have to select the text, right click to copy, and then paste that data into a new tab or browser window. Accelerators make doing that seem old fashioned and slow. Instead you simply highlight some text, click on a blue icon that pops up either above or below, hover over the Accelerator of your choice, and either a preview window will appear or you click on it for the content to appear in a new browser tab.

There are also regular plug-ins, or add-ons, that expand on the default functionality of IE9. To celebrate the power and flexibility of the browser here are our essential top 9 Accelerators and add-ons for IE9.

1) Translate with Bing

If you hadn't noticed, we're here to tell you something: the Internet is amazing. And tools such as Translate with Bing are a prime example. This Accelerator lets you select text from one of several languages and translate it on the fly. It's remarkable stuff and as soon as we can take that functionality and pop it into our ear, Douglas Adams' Babel Fish will have become a reality. In the meantime you can simply install the Translate with Bing Accelerator into IE9, highlight the text you wish to translate, click the Blue Accelerator icon and hover over Translate with Bing. It will auto-detect the language and translate it into one of 38 languages each of which can be selected from a drop down. Google Translate is also available as an alternative, but whichever one you choose it makes IE9 into a perfect research tool that breaks down barriers on the Internet and makes online research super easy.

With a Translate Accelerator for IE9, your browser can break down language barriers.

2) Bing Maps

When you're looking for directions there's no need to waste time copying the text and then pasting it into an online map service. With the Bing Maps Accelerator you simply select an address and either click on the blue Accelerator icon or right-click and then choose the Map with Bing option. From here the address will pop up in a mini window and from the same window you can choose to open up a full map or get directions, which will then open up in a new Window. It's a massive time saver and very simple to use. If you prefer Google Maps, Multimap or even Yahoo Maps, there are Accelerators for those too.

Locating an address and finding directions is incredibly easy with IE9.

3) Evernote

Evernote is one of those tools that everyone should have on their computer. It's a cloud based system for saving notes online, which means you can access them from any device, be it your laptop, your tablet or your Windows 7, Android or Apple smartphone. The Evernote accelerator for IE9 enables you to select text on a web page and automatically search through all your Evernote notebooks for the term and then open it up in another browser tab, which can be really useful for research.

4) LastPass

LastPass is a powerful tool that lets you store and synchronise your passwords across computers and platforms. Say you have the passwords saved for all your favourite sites on your home computer - it would be great to have that all synced to your work computer too, without having to enter in every password for each and every site again. LastPass lets you securely store all your password data online, so even if you get a new computer, you simply login to LastPass and securely pull in all your passwords. It's a really convenient tool. It even offers cross browser support so if you want to make switching between IE9 and another browser simpler you can. It also employs 256-bit AES encryption to protect your data, so you can rest assured that your passwords are held securely.

LastPass will sync your passwords across different computers and uses 256-bit AES encryption to protect your data.

5) XMarks

Just as LastPass handles password syncing, XMarks does the same for your bookmarks. Installing a tool such as this shows how ready IE9 is for true cloud computing, freeing you from being locked into a specific machine. XMarks enables you to move between computers and once you login all your bookmarks will be there. As well as syncing bookmarks to your local machine you can also access them online, which is great if you want to get hold a particular bookmark from a computer to which you can't or don't want to install XMarks. It will also remember all your tabs and even sync your browsing history.

XMarks will let you easily keep your browser bookmarks and browsing history synced between computers and platforms.

6) Adblock for Internet Explorer

Ad blocking software is controversial as it's designed to stop adverts from being displayed as you load up a webpage. While many consider adverts an unwanted distraction, others understand that they are a necessary feature that enables many websites to bring content to the reader for free. However, it's up to you if you want to use one, and can be necessary in some situations. When enabled it will help load pages quicker, which is useful if you're in a hurry, don't want distractions or you simply want to save on bandwidth. Adblock for IE9 is a lightweight plug-in that won't take up too many resources and offers advanced filters that allow fine-grained control of advertisements, through features such as blacklists, whitelists, and regular expression filters.

7) Mouse Gestures for IE9

In this age of touch-screen interactive displays using the keyboard on a laptop or desktop can seem rather quaint. Mouse Gestures for IE9 is an add-on that does what it says on the tin; it enables you to control your browser with your mouse rather than having to press browser buttons or use the keyboard. It has been fully integrated into IE9 and coded as a Browser Helper Object, which means that it can do almost everything you need to do via a mouse gesture and this is normally quicker than doing it another way. The right mouse button is the default action button and when you hold it down and drag left or right you move backwards or forwards through your browsing history respectively, while holding and dragging up will open up a new tab. There are numerous gestures to become familiar with, but once you have, you'll find that IE9 becomes an even more powerful browsing tool.

You can set the Mouse Gestures add-on to indicate what it's doing visually by leaving a mouse trail.

8) ieSpell for IE9

There's nothing worse than firing off an important email or constructing a blog and finding that you've littered it with embarrassing spelling errors. OK, there are things worse: the Eurovision song contest for one, but it's certainly something you want to avoid if possible. ieSpell is a spell-checker for IE9 that will check the input of all text boxes, saving you much potential embarrassment. The simple, but essential add-on can be configured from the IE9 'Tools' menu, the toolbar button or via a right-click context menu and it's activated simply by right clicking in any text box. It has US, Canadian and UK dictionaries built right in and you can select one of five online dictionaries for it to choose from. As plug-ins go, installing this one is a no brainer.

Keep on top of typos with this integrated spellchecker for IE9.

9) FoxyTunes for IE

This plugin demonstrates that other browsers don't have all the best tunes. FoxyTunes was created for Firefox but works just as well in IE. It's a media player that sits in your browser at the top and enables you to play, pause and skip through your locally stored music without having to move to a separate application. It supports a huge range of players from iTunes to Winamp to Windows Media Player, plus many others. It also integrates nicely with Yahoo Music. Click on a track you have playing and it will take you through to a page featuring biography information and YouTube videos of the artist and more.

Control your music from your browser and find more content about the artist playing through Yahoo Music.