Firebug is always just a keystroke away, but it never gets in your way. You can open Firebug in a separate window, or as a bar at the bottom of your browser. Firebug also gives you fine-grained control over which websites you want to enable it for.
Firebug makes it simple to find HTML elements buried deep in the page. Once you've found what you're looking for, Firebug gives you a wealth of information, and lets you edit the HTML live.