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 steroids. Ever wanted to control a fire-breathing grizzly bear on steroids? You’ll have some idea what it’s like when you polish up your Chrome experience with the best Google Chrome extensions around.
Choose your extension category:
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. Use it with Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, YouTube, and more. No more tedious clicking to enlarge photos.
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?
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 a quick glance at the current weather conditions. With just one click, the extension expands beyond the toolbar with an extended overview of the forecast. Although it’s 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.
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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 emailing necessary. You can also send, maps, phone numbers, or messages so long as you installthe app on an Android device sporting Android 2.2 or later.
At this point, everyone knows Internet Explorer isn’t all that great. 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 browser whenever you need to hit your banking site — or any other IE-centric site — fire it up within Chrome using IETab. It will seamlessly appear alongside your other Chrome pages, yet it will be running in IE. Until browsers reach that day of perfect compatibility, one in which they will all hold hands and sing songs together regarding HTML 5, this is the next best thing. However, IE Tab only works on Windows.
Clickable Links 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. Never copy and paste again.
The aptly-titled Gmail Offline allows you to read and respond to emails 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.
Default keyboard shortcuts like CTRL+ T work fine for reformed Unix users hellbent 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 turns your pointer into the ultimate shortcut tool. For instance, swiping right to left while pressing down the right mouse button will send you back. You can even make your own gestures if the defaults don’t quite jibe with your memory.
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Gmail has lured us away from the sophisticated machinations of Microsoft Outlook for good, but we can’t help but miss those informative email notifications. Unless you have your Gmail feeding to asmartphone, 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 the icon even brings up a quick rundown of new messages, so you can read without 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 — and if clicked —the extension will display a list of available feeds that you can easily subscribe to with another click.
There’s a melange of extensions dedicated to capturing webpage screenshots, but FireShot is truly the only one you need. It allows you to capture images with a press of the print-screen key, ones you can then annotate. upload, or email. Best of all, the tool allows you to capture a specified portion of the screen, the browser window, or the entirety of the page (even the content you can’t see without scrolling).
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.
Banish the copy-and-paste shortcut forever. Shareaholic lets you enter passwords for more than 100 services — including Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook — 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.
Anyone who ever had to write an academic research paper knows bibliographies are the worst thing since the duct tape necktie. Yet, this minimalist extension makes things slightly easier by allowing you to cite webpages in APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard style with the mere click of a button. Then just copy and paste the formatted citation into your assignment or reference guide for later.
Tabs can be cumbersome, especially given how quickly they stack up without you’re knowledge. The Great Suspender automatically suspends unattractive tabs other than those you’ve white listed after a set period of time, thus preventing your browser from slowing to a crawl and retaining your memory footprint. Plus, you can always reload suspended tabs whenever you need them again.
Looking at a screen all day can put a strain on your eyes and make being on the Internet all day difficult. Hacker Vision works to reduce the mid-week blues by changing the contrast on your browser from light to dark. This is great for browsing at night or by candlelight.
Brevity is king when it comes to sites like Twitter and Facebook. As you might expect, the unofficial Google extension grants Chrome users access to Google’s own URL shortener service, instantly shortening the URL of your current webpage, copying it to the clipboard, and generating an accompanying QR code in the process. You can even see how many times the resulting URL has been used in the past.
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.
Popular Science didn’t name Disconnect one of the best 100 inventions of the year for no reason. With Disconnect, you can block third-party cookies and keep social networks and unwanted advertisers from tracking your personal browsing habits. Moreover, the software’s set of privacy icons will help you ensure the site you’re navigating honors your privacy and do-no-track requests.
Stealthy is a poor man’s VPN. Download it and access anything on the Internet you could imagine. It gets past company, government, and location restrictions so nothing can stand between you and Instagram photos of food. Make your boss feel really silly when you unblock Facebook and video poker.
Developer Thomas Greiner’s PanicButton was a long time coming. The extension is best suited for those times when you don’t want anyone to see what you’re doing on the computer, providing you with the opportunity to hide all open tabs in your browser in a moment’s notice. Once the impending threat — your boss, wife, co-worker, etc. — leaves the room, just click the PanicButton again to restore the previously-open tabs.
Not everyone around the globe is fortunate enough to have relatively open access to the Web. Fortunately, Hola Better Internet — formerly known as Hola Unblocker — allows you to access content that may be blocked or censored in your region for whatever reason. Whenever you run into content that’s blocked, whether Netflix or Facebook, simply click the Hola icon in the top-right and select the country from which you want to browse.
Do you hate YouTube comments? Us too. For some reason, the site seems to be a forum for the world’s most ignorant, prejudiced, and downright mannerless human beings on the Web, and if you’d rather not read their horrible replies, you need Herp Derp. Install this extension and all comments on YouTube will be transformed into a random string of herps and derps. If for some reason you do feel the need to read a comment, you can reveal the original post by clicking on it
Now that we’ve uncovered proof ofthe NSA’s broad scale domestic spying program, PRISM, you’ve got more reason than ever to encrypt your online communication. CryptoCat is a secure chat client that uses the OTR protocol and AES-265 encryption to keep your messages secure, and it works right in your browser.
This extension is a project from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and pretty much does what it sounds like it does. It encrypts your communications with major websites, turning the site from “http” to “https,” ensuring that your browsing is secure.
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. You’ll never have to remember which variation on your pet’s name you used for your Spotify account.
Ghostery blocks thousands of different trackers and bugs, and prevents them from collecting data on the sites you visit and links you click. It brings up a list of companies who are collecting your data and you can choose to let them continue or turn it off. Moreover, you don’t even need to register for anything and the software doesn’t leave any trace in your browser history or cookies. A must have for those who value their privacy.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It blocks all advertisements 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. The software is also open-source, so a community works together to make sure all ads are eliminated, even irritating social media buttons get the ax.
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.
Allows you to block specific websites and prevent them from appearing in your search results. Google also takes note of what you tend to block and hides similar websites and offerings. A blue “Block” button will accompany each search result, located directly next to the green URL.
Never worry about the links you click on again with WOT. It’s a Web safety extension that relies on user ratings of websites. The extension utilities a robust user base and displays a color-coded circle next to every link on the Web, quickly informing you of how others have rated the site.
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.
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 by Tuesday” — 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.
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 price-checker extension that helps you shop smarter online. When you find a product online, all you have to do is click the little camel icon and a graph will come up displaying the price history for the particular product. You can then sign up for price alerts using your email address or Twitter account.
Ever wanted to download a YouTube video? There are dozens of sites that’ll get the job done, but none can compare to ClipConverter’s speed, versatility, and ease of use. This extension basically provides a set of buttons that let you download the video as an MP3, MP4, or virtually any other major file format.
Discount coupons are convenient, but unfortunately, they’re often not applicable when you have a specific product in mind. Meet Honey, a Chrome extension designed to automatically apply available discount codes when shopping online. The simple add-on places a yellow “Find savings” button on the sites of prominent vendors such as Amazon and Old Navy, allowing you to scour the Web for anything and everything that may help your wallet when checking out.
Remembering dates and times can be tedious and personal assistants don’t come as easily as Mad Men makes you think. Spot takes care of that for you. Copy and Paste dates from webpages or plug them in on your own and Spot will compile everything and send you reminders. You can also use it to write-up a To-Do list so you don’t forget to buy salsa for Taco Tuesday ever again.
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 the text into Google Translate, you simply highlight the text and the extension will instantly provide a translation in the same window. Instant Translate will even bring up synonyms.
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.
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 the “mass of Jupiter divided by the average weight of an African elephant.”
WriteSpace is a wonderfully minimalist writing app designed for storing work locally, even when Chrome is offline. It saves your information on your computer instead of an external hard drive, and hell, you can even utilize the extension’s full-screen mode for distraction-free work.
Ever needed to look at two pages side-by-side? Tab Scissors lets you snip tabs down and place them next to one another. The pages are still displayed in different windows, but you can view both without having to switch between the two. It’s a great way to do research, or procrastinate, and not feel bad about yourself.
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. Copy Plain Text lets you save unformatted text in the clipboard.
Let’s face it, no one likes to see a barrage of annoying posts in a quick succession. With Buffer, you can schedule and space out your tweets and Facebook updates for a more appropriate time. You can even track various analytics such clicks, retweets, mentions, shares, and other data within the software’s dashboard.
See a link that jumps out at you, but don’t have time to check it out at the moment? Get yourself a “read it later” app like Pocket. You’ll need to sign up for the service first, but after you’re all set up, the Pocket extension for Chrome lets you send articles and webpages to your account for later reading with just one click.
Update: This article was initially published on July 19, 2013. It was updated on Sept. 5, 2014 to include the latest releases. DT writer Emily Schiola contributed to this article.