For awhile, I was watching Hulu.com all the time. It was much more convenient than setting aside time to watch TV on the actual television. One of my favorite features of the site was the ability to “turn off lights”, fading the entire browser window around the video into darkness so that the blinding white didn’t detract from the video you were watching if you didn’t want to watch it in full-screen mode. Since I tend to watch videos while doing two or three other things, this was invaluable to me.
Firefox is my “media browser,” and I found myself missing Hulu’s functionality while I was watching videos on YouTube or Netflix. Then I found a wonderful add-on that made every video site like Hulu — Turn Off The Lights.
At first, all I noticed was the simple one click “lights off/lights on” lightbulb in my add-ons bar. That was great! Every video site was now just as awesome as Hulu, a click away from the darkening of annoying whites. (Turn Off The Lights will also dim the screen around some flash games as well, which can also be nice.) Then I opened up my extensions settings to see what the options looked like, and I was almost overwhelmed. There is more to Turn Off The Lights than just dim the surroundings of videos and flash games with the click of a button.
Assuming you’re on a site with HTML5 enabled, or a YouTube video, there’s an option that will automatically dim the background when you click the play button, meaning you can use the play/pause button on the video instead of the Turn Off The Lights button in your toolbar. You can also select things that you don’t want to dim. Simple toggles can leave the Playlist, the Infobar, the Like & Dislike buttons, the video title, and more un-dimmed while dimming the rest of the screen. If you want something more interesting, you can select a dynamic background for the dimmed section of the screen — from bubbles like a fish tank, to moving clouds, and more — to make the dimmed area of the screen more visually engaging. If you want something even more interesting, you can make the outside edges of your video glow a color of your choosing with the options in the Visual Effects tab of the settings – the default is a cool blue color, and I actually like it quite a lot.
In the Advanced options, you can make a dimness level bar show up so you can make the page darker or lighter with more control. Or you can type specific URLs into the Eye Protection section and the browser will automatically dim when loading those pages. A shortcut key (CTRL + SHIFT + L) can be activated to use instead of the dimmer switch, and there are even Easter Eggs to discover within the program. I’ll leave those for you to find for your own.
Ultimately, this is a very useful add-on for anyone who loves to watch online videos but finds the glaring white background to be annoying. With the customization options Turn Off The Lights has, there’s sure to be something for everyone. Check out the download link below to try it for yourself!
Price: FREE (suggested donation of $12.99 by developer)
Version reviewed: 188.8.131.52
Requires: Firefox 10.0 and higher