Google’s Chrome is a fine browser on its own — it’s fast, light, and doesn’t get in the way of the content you want to see. But what makes Chrome truly unique — perhaps even powerful — is when you add Chrome extensions and apps to your personal installation. There are tens of thousands to choose from on the Chrome Web Store, most of which (despite the name) are free. Some of the apps in the Web Store will be familiar to those you might find in the Google Play Store or iOS App Store.
Others, however, are completely unique to Chrome. These extensions can be installed on Chrome for Windows, MacOS, Linux, and also Chrome OS-based devices like a Chromebook laptop. However, they won’t work on mobile versions of the Chrome browser for Android or iOS.
Here are the very best Google Chrome extensions that just might revolutionize your workday.
Most of the more complex functions of Chrome need to be accessed via a button or an entry in the primary or right-click menu. For a quicker alternative, this extension can bind complex actions to mouse gestures: simply hold down the right-click button on your mouse or touchpad and activate the gesture to perform the action. Customized gestures can be bound to almost any advanced function you can think of. We like to assign a simple, three-swipe gesture to close every tab except the one in the foreground.
This tool allows the user to hover over a linked thumbnail image and view it in a simple pop-up window. It’s quite convenient if you often browse sites such as Reddit, which feature very small thumbnails for large images. The tool will display an image in its native resolution — unless that’s larger than your computer screen — and it supports animated formats like GIF and GIFV. It even allows for scrolling through a list of images on Imgur without opening the site.
Momentum replaces Chrome’s somewhat stoic “New Tab” page with a more colorful alternative. While there are plenty of similar options on the Chrome Web Store, Momentum’s curated landscape images focus on a big, easy-to-read clock that very aesthetically pleasing. Those who use Chrome’s URL bar for quick access to frequent sites won’t miss the bookmark functions, but if you rely on the default New Tab page links, you should probably skip this one.
A little light web browsing at work never hurt anyone, but your manager might not agree. This extension adds a simple button to Chrome’s toolbar that immediately hides all of your open tabs when clicked, saving them as temporary bookmarks for easy retrieval. The function can be bound to a keyboard shortcut for even faster (and more discrete) activation. Combine it with a hidden button, and you have an instant safety net for not working at work.
Mercury Reader combines the functions of a “read it later” bookmark tool with a reading-focused web page reformat. It automatically pulls out the text and key images from a page (ideally news or blog posts) and shows them in big text that’s easy on the eyes. The extension can also send pages to your account, or even to a Kindle for comfy reading later. The tool is configurable for your ideal reading preferences, too, and it automatically syncs across computers and mobile devices. If you find something you need a hard copy for, we can also help you print from Chrome more efficiently.
Some sites display their format differently for different browsers or operating systems. If you need to access an alternate view of a certain website —to save JPG or PNG images instead of WEBP images on the Google Play Store, for instance — this extension allows you to instantly switch between desktop and mobile versions of Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer, Safari, and the default iOS and Android web browsers. You can even set up rules that automatically load certain websites in a certain browser profile.