Difference Between Add-on and Plug-in

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 27, 2023


Difference Between Add-on and Plug-in

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Internet browsers are programs used to access the World Wide Web. There are numerous web browsers available, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and others.

Some internet browsers make use of add-ons, plug-ins, and extensions. Add-ons and plug-ins for web browsers are software that is installed into a website to enhance its capability and provide additional functionalities. Although add-ons, plug-ins, and extensions are now almost equivalent, there are still slight variations.

Add-on vs Plug-in

The fundamental distinction between an add-on and a plug-in is that an add-on is not compatible with other offerings; instead, it is often used to add specific functions or capabilities to a browser.

Add-ons are subject to certain limitations. On the other hand, plug-ins are entire programs that are used to interact with specific applications when referring to any third-party software.

An add-on is a piece of technology that extends the capabilities of a program. An add-on often enhances certain program activities, provides new functionality to the application, or adds new components to the program's interface. Examples of add-ons for Mozilla Firefox include web developer tools, ad filters, and the Chrome interface.

A plug-in is software that customizes computer code, web applications, and apps. It also personalizes the content on websites.

A plug-in can be a complete program that contains all of the minor add-ons that enhance the content of the pages. It can also be encountered on websites and web domains, where it can be used to display YouTube videos or change the fonts of webpages.

Difference Between Add-on and Plug-in in Tabular Form

Parameters of ComparisonAdd-onPlug-in
DefinitionAn application or a physical machine that can be applied to a system to enhance its abilities is referred to as an add-on.A plug-in is a small add-on software that extends the functionality of a desktop program or online application.
Complete programAn add-on does not function as a standalone software.A plug-in functions as a fully-fledged software.
BrowsersMozilla Firefox supports add-ons.Mozilla Firefox no longer provides plug-ins.
BoundariesThe use of the add-on is limited in that it only functions on internet browsers.Apart from being utilized in internet browsers, the plug-in can also be used to execute files.
ExamplesStorage devices, video cards, audio accelerator cards, and internet capabilities are examples of add-ons.Adobe Flash Player, Unity Web Player, and QuickTime are examples of plug-ins.

What actually is an Add-on?

An add-on is a component of a computer update or operating program. It contributes to expanding the current functionality in programs and web browsers and may be removed at any time without impacting the initial request or web browser.

Any web browser's functions can be expanded by utilizing an add-on. Add-ons allow developers to add numerous functionalities to the internet browser that are otherwise unavailable in the browser window.

In most cases, an add-on comes in the form of a self-installing package. Download and install an add-on by double-clicking the add-on package. Because add-ons bring several advantages, most applications are now designed with add-on compatibility.

The most popular add-ons are:

  • Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others.
  • Evernote and other authentication systems.
  • Several video torrent sites.
  • Online conferencing capabilities such as Google Hangouts, Skype, Cisco Webex, and others.
  • Proofreading, Google Translate, and other language help services.
  • Evernote Web Clipper, Fireshot, and other website snapshot utilities.

An add-on is another type of extension that enhances the capability of software. Add-ons, on the other hand, are designed to function with certain programs. For example, if you are using Mozilla Firefox, then you will need to download add-ons that are specifically developed for usage with Firefox alone.

Chrome add-ons cannot be used in Firefox and vice versa. Toolbar buttons are some of the most basic add-ons that are utilized by many web browsers. For example, if you are an SEO professional and often use various SEO tools, you may install a dedicated SEO toolbar on your browser that contains Alexa Ranks, Google Page Rank calculator, and backlink spreadsheet, and so on. You will need to pick a toolbox that is specifically developed for the internet browser that you are using for this reason.

What is a Plug-in?

A plug-in is a computer add-on designed to be frequently installed on software to enhance its functionality. For example, a plug-in can be used on a webpage to display visuals on the screen. Without a plug-in, the site cannot show video. It is considered an essential component of online browsing, web content generation, and computing.

It is a tool that allows customization of browsers, computer programs, and applications. However, due to many platforms not supporting plug-ins and instead enabling browser extensions, the use of plug-ins has decreased. Only a few plug-ins are still in use.

The most widely used plug-ins include:

  1. Bukkit Plug-in: This allows customization of sandbox video games in various ways. It enables users to establish their private etc will on their server and protect it from other servers. It also allows creating a personal area in the game.
  2. Adobe Acrobat Reader: This extension enables users to read and interact with PDF files.
  3. HP Printing Service: It enables customers to send printing instructions to printers from an Android phone. HP Print Services can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.
  4. Samsung Print Service: This also allows users to print from Samsung smartphones and most other Android devices. This plug-in is compatible with a wide range of printers.
  5. WordPress plug-in: This allows content authors to edit and view their material on their websites.

The term "plug-in" is used to describe extensions created by a third-party group for specific software. For example, if you want to watch online movies on a web browser, you need to download a plug-in called Flash Player.

Flash Player is an application that is not designed to work with a specific internet browser. It was created by Adobe and is compatible with and used by all popular web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome, for online video playback.

A plug-in, also known as an add-on or extension, is a part of computer software that adds extra functionality to the host application without affecting the host program itself. Plug-ins are commonly used in tasks such as recording, video editing, and web browsing, making it possible to modify a host software while keeping the user within the application's context.

Plug-ins gained popularity in the 1990s as programs and microcontrollers became more powerful. Adobe Photoshop, an image editing tool, was one of the first applications to extensively use plug-ins. Early plug-ins enhanced Photoshop's functionality by adding additional colors, filters, and other options for image manipulation.

Main Differences Between Add-on and Plug-in in Points

  • An add-on is a program utility or physical device that can be added to a system to enhance its capabilities. On the other hand, a plug-in is a small add-on software used to enhance the functionality of a desktop program or a web application.
  • While an add-on does not function as a complete application, a plug-in does.
  • Add-ons are allowed in Mozilla Firefox, but plug-ins are not.
  • An add-on can only be used in web browsers and not in operating systems, resulting in certain limitations. In contrast, plug-ins have no limitations as they are accepted by a wide range of programs other than web browsers.
  • Examples of add-ons include social media applications (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.), authentication systems (LastPass), video file sharing sites, and online chat capabilities (Google Hangout, Skype, Cisco Webex). Examples of plug-ins include HP Print Services, Adobe Reader, Business Interest Connector, Adobe Flash Player, Unity Web Player, and more.
  • When purchasing programs for laptops, users often prefer ones with the most pre-installed functions. However, programs either lack the desired functionality or have so many features that it is difficult to find the specific one users are looking for. Software developers allow the use of plug-ins or add-ons to modify the appearance of their products.
  • Plug-in and add-on are two terms that refer to the same capability; they are simple expansions that enhance the program's usefulness. It is up to the software developer to decide how to label computer expansions for their products, which can be created by other companies, individuals, or the software's creators.
  • The term "plug-in" commonly refers to third-party software designed to communicate with a specific program. For example, to play movies in a web browser, one would need to download a plug-in called Adobe Player.
  • The Flash Player is not built into any browser and is created by a different company. It is compatible with all major web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera.
  • An add-on also enhances the capabilities of a software but is generally designed to work with a specific application. For example, add-ons designed for Firefox will only work with Firefox, as will add-ons designed for other browsers.
  • These are typically not full-fledged programs but rather code snippets used to modify the interface. Toolbars are the most common computer add-ons, which provide quick access to specific web services but take up a little extra space.
  • Add-ons are particularly popular in online games like World of Warcraft, where users with programming knowledge can create their own add-ons to assist others.
  • The distinction between an add-on and a plug-in is not always clear. Both are designed to perform specific tasks tailored to individual user preferences.
  • The reason these instructions are not integrated into the application from the beginning is that they may not be essential to all users. By allowing plug-ins and add-ons, software developers encourage community participation in improving their products.


  • Add-on and Plug-in are nearly identical terms. Both of these are sometimes used to expand a program's capabilities and current features. These additions are extremely beneficial in improving the usability of software systems.
  • The key distinction between these two is that an add-on is an extension that is used to increase the functionality of software applications. It is intended for use with a specific software; for example, if the user uses Mozilla Firefox, they must install the Firefox-specific add-on.
  • A plug-in is another type of addition created by a third-party organization for a specific application. For example, if the user wants to watch a video clip using a web browser, they will require a plug-in called Flash Player.
  • Plugin and add-on are phrases that are sometimes used interchangeably. However, this is completely untrue.
  • A plug-in is a software extension that can work independently of the primary application. An add-on, on the other hand, enhances the technology but may also run without it, making it only usable when used in combination with the core application.
  • Browser add-ons are a prominent example. Modern browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer are designed to be extensible through add-ons at any time. As a result, their security can be improved, bookmark management and internet browsing can be streamlined, and the browser's appearance can be customized.

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"Difference Between Add-on and Plug-in." Diffzy.com, 2024. Fri. 17 May. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-add-on-and-plug-in-1207>.

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