Google Chrome in its purest form is a beast of a browser, but if you install the right extensions and give it extra functionality, you can transform it into even more of a beast – like a fire-breathing grizzly bear on ‘roids. Ever wanted to control a fire-breathing grizzly bear on ‘roids? You’ll have some idea what it’s like when you polish up your Chrome experience with the best Google Chrome extensions around. More of a Firefox kind of person? Check out our picks for the best Firefox add-ons.
Hover over an image and it will magically be expanded to the biggest size possible. It doesn’t work with every image on every website, but it works with most major ones and it’s constantly expanding.
This extension strips away all the bells and whistles of the Web and provides you with a clean, minimalist Web browsing experience.
Highlighting text from a page, copying it, opening a new tab, pasting it and hitting enter to search had already branded itself deep into our muscle memory by the time we discovered FastestChrome, which executes the whole routine in a single click. It pops up a bubble full of search sites whenever you highlight text, and does a lot of other cool tricks, too. The qLauncher, for instance, lets you launch any of your favorite bookmarks by combining them with a key.
Looking at a webpage, but have to leave your computer to go elsewhere? Send the page to your phone so you can view it on the go. No e-mailing necessary.
Internet Explorer sucks. But as much as we hate to use it, the features on certain pages force us to. Rather than digging around in your start bar and cluttering up your computer with another instance of another browser whenever you need to hit your bank (or any other IE-centric site), fire it up within Chrome using IETab. It will seamlessly appear alongside your other pages – but it’s running in IE. Until browsers reach that day of perfect compatibility where they all hold hands and sing songs together around HTML 5, this is the next best thing.
Ever taken the time to fill out a form or application online, only to have it disappear when you click submit? Lazarus saves you from these situations by temporarily saving the text you enter into forms and allowing you to auto-refill the fields at the click of a button.
Lastpass is a password manager that saves you from the hassle of remembering a zillion different passwords. It can auto-fill fields for you, and can also be used to generate highly secure passwords when you create new accounts.
Ghostery blocks thousands of different trackers and bugs, and prevents them from collecting data on the sites you visit and links you click. A must have for those who value their privacy.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It blocks all ads on the Web – banner ads, text ads, ads in YouTube videos, ad sandwiches, ads on kabob, lemon ads, ads and potatoes, and ad gumbo (it doesn’t block bad Forrest Gump references though).
Use this extension to help you locate relevant information faster. When you search for something in Google and click a link, Google Quick Scroll will highlight the text that’s most relevant to your query and allow you to jump to that section of the page.
So simple, yet so useful. The extension merely adds a Downloads shortcut to your Chrome toolbar, eliminating the need to click the wrench and find it buried among other options. Why isn’t this a default option in Chrome?
Have you ever clicked on a video that somebody posted on Facebook, but are then forced to install annoying apps like SocialCam or Viddy before you can watch it? This extension lets you skip all that nonsense and jump directly to the desired video.
Feedly automatically scours your history for blogs, news sources and topics you’re into, then aggregates them all into a giant “magazine cover” with continuously updating stories and pictures, Twitter feeds, and pictures. You can use it as a shortcut on your toolbar, or simply set it as your “new tab” page and take in personalized content every time you pop open a new tab.
This one takes any URL or email address that isn’t a clickable and turns it into a blue hyperlink. You won’t notice it when you install it, but it makes surfing the Web just that much easier.
Allows you to read and respond to e-mails without an Internet connection. It essentially saves e-mails locally on your computer for a short period of time, and will send off all of your responses as soon as you acquire an Internet connection.
You probably have a calculator on your desktop, but why leave your browser just to do a quick calculation? Cloudy Calculator can not only handle numbers and complex equations, but can also give you answers to obscure stuff like “mass of Jupiter divided by the average weight of an African elephant.”
Allows you to block specific websites and prevent them from appearing in your search results.
Find locations quicker with this extension. Click the icon, enter your search, and it’ll display the nearest Google Maps results.
One of our favorite Firefox extensions is now on Chrome, and it’s just as solid. Forecastfox Weather adds a clean icon on your toolbar, providing weather at a glance with current weather conditions. WIth just one click, it also pops out of the toolbar with an extended overview of the weather. Although not quite as modern-looking as The Weather Channels’s 1-ClickWeather, we find the pop-up much more informative – especially the seven-day forecast, which you can click through without even opening a tab.
Similar to PriceBlink, this is a price-checker extension that helps you shop smarter online.
Never worry about the links you click on again with WoT. It’s a Web safety extension that relies on user ratings of websites. It has a large user base and will display a color-coded circle next to every link on the Web that informs you how others have rated it.
Default keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl-T work fine for reformed Unix users hell-bent on doing everything with a keyboard commands, but for the lackadaisical mouse surfer, gestures are king. Holding the right mouse button and performing any number of intuitive gestures (right to left will send you back, for instance) turns your pointer into the ultimate shortcut tool. You can even make your own gestures if the defaults don’t quite jibe with your memory.
Shortened links can be deceptive sometimes, but with this extension you’ll be able to see the full URL that they take you to before you click.
Do you ever wish that you could comment on a blog post or forum without having to register and create an account first? BugMeNot allows you to bypass this sort of compulsory Web registration by using its login info for thousands of different sites.
If you do any amount of online shopping, this extension is a must-have. It indexes hundreds of different online retailers and alerts you of the lowest price for any item you’re currently looking at.
Clicking ‘Next Page’ is so 2010. This extension auto-loads the next pages of websites and allows you to scroll continuously while you browse.
Ever sit down to a computer to work and walk away with more new tasks to do than you finished? We know the feeling. RemindMe lets you quickly scribble down reminders – like “pay bills” – and set automatic reminders to do them in the future. The icon also shows pending tasks for when you stumble across some free time and want to clear your plate.
Lets say you’re browsing recipes for curry and you come across one that’s written in Thai. Instead of having to copy-and-paste it into Google Translate, you can just highlight the text and this extension will instantly provide a translation in the same window.
See a font you like on the Web, but don’t know what it’s called? This extension will figure it out for you.
Gmail has lured us away from the sophisticated machinations of Microsoft Outlook for good, but we can’t help but miss those new e-mail notifications. Unless you have your Gmail feeding to a smartphone, you never really know when a new message arrives until you check. Google Mail Checker Plus solves this dilemma by tying directly into your Gmail account and showing the number of unread messages in the Chrome toolbar. It even wiggles and turns red when you have messages waiting. Clicking on it brings up a quick rundown of new messages, so you can read without even dropping what you’re doing.
This one is a must-have for RSS junkies. Whenever a website offers an RSS subscription, an orange button will appear in your OmniBar that, if clicked, will display a list of available feeds that you can subscribe to with another click.
You found a site you like. And now you’re looking for more of the same. Before hitting up Google for “water polo enthusiast forums,” just click the Similar Pages icon. Besides producing four shockingly reliable similar pages for you to peruse, it generates four thumbnails so you can see where you’re headed before you click.
This is a wonderfully minimalist writing app that stores work locally and can be used even when Chrome is offline.
Ever needed to look at two pages side-by-side? Tab Scissors lets you snip tabs down and compare them side-by-side
I don’t know about you, but it seems like my tabs multiply when I’m not looking. This extension helps you manage tab overload with an organized, tiled interface.
Nine times out of ten, you want the text, not the formatting. I don’t care what you’re saying, if it’s in Comic Sans I just can’t take it seriously.
Banish the copy-and-paste shortcut forever. Shareaholic lets you enter passwords for over 100 services – including Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and Buzz – then share any page on them in a second from the toolbar shortcut. Use wisely, lest your friends crank the valve on your feeds to “off” forever to silence your flood of links. The suffix “aholic” is used for a reason, folks.