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 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.
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
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,
Since the untimely demise of Google Reader, Feedly has taken over as the de facto standard for RSS readers on the web. It’s quite possible to use the service in your browser without trouble, but for quick access and an isolated window, the official extension is very handy. It also adds a Feedly Mini icon to the bottom-right corner of sites with compatible RSS feeds. If this bothers you, it can be disabled across the web, or only on specific sites.
Frequent users of Evernote, the popular notation and bookmarking tool, will definitely want to check out this first-party extension. It allows users to quickly highlight text, images, or both, and save them to
Do you like using productivity apps that keep you concentrated and focused when you need to be, as well as give you breaks when it’s the proper time? Strict Workflow is designed to do just that. It creates an automatic blocker that blocks any non-related workpages that you select for 25 minutes. Then it gives you five minutes to relax, browse social media and
For Android users, Pushbullet one of the most valuable Chrome extensions around. It pushes your important notifications to Chrome and allows you to respond without leaving the browser. That means that you can get and send texts, reply to messages on WhatsApp or Facebook’s Messenger app, share files and much more. Again, most features are only available to Android users, but having everything happening right inside Chrome is a great advantage.
OneTab is a solution for those of us who like to open a few too many tabs on Chrome. And while Chrome is a particularly minimalistic browser, having dozens of tabs open at the same time can still be a struggle. If your browser and your RAM tend to struggle at this point, OneTab offers a solution: A single tab that condenses your open tabs into a history-like list that you can reference instead, saving memory and speeding up Chrome for you.
Session Buddy is an essential tool for those who habitually open a specific set of tabs. It saves sessions that include a set of tabs that you want to have open at the same time. This is also handy if Chrome — or your computer itself — is particularly crash-prone. The tool’s internal management system even allows users to customize, save, export, and import session lists with ease.
Do you like to take random, short-term notes while using Chrome? If that’s you, you may not see much value in opening up a separate app designed for long-term notes just to jot down a few temporary thoughts — but Papier has you covered. This app allows you to open a blank Chrome tab that just lets you type on it. You can type whatever you want, and anything there will be automatically backed up to Chrome. Easy!
Communication & Casual
Boomerang allows Gmail users to postpone sending messages, something that’s sorely missing from the default user interface. It’s especially useful if you do business with people in other time zones (or continents) so that you don’t accidentally send that invoice request at 3 a.m. The service also includes reminders, which are handy if you’re waiting on a response, and applications for Android and iOS that let you use Boomerang when you’re away from your computer.
Among the various password management tools available, including Chrome’s built-in system, Lastpass is particularly well-regarded for both its ease of use and security. Lastpass uses a combination of a private master password, auto-generated passwords for websites and services, touch local-only data encryption, and two-factor authentication to make password filing both safe and fast. The official extension automatically keeps users logged into the service without having to use the web interface.
Advanced User Tools
There are many options for accessing your PC and helping someone else with theirs via remote desktop tools, but none of them are as affordable or as easy to use as Google’s first-party solution. Once installed, it will allow you to access your home computer — including desktop and other non-Chrome applications — from any device that can run Chrome, even Android or iOS devices. The interface is simple, but effective — and as long as your connection is stable, it’s quite speedy to use.
If you do any work in web design, marketing, or content, then SimilarWeb can be a particularly valuable tool. This add-on allows you to look at traffic numbers, sources, activity over time and other valuable analytical data that will help you make important web decisions. It’s not as in-depth as going into Google Analytics, but it’s very fast and ideal for quick comparisons.
Typing exotic characters into text fields is always a bit of a headache, especially when you’re typing in a language not natively supported by your keyboard. Google Input Tools adds an easy, virtual keyboard or input panel for exotic characters, including currency symbols, Chinese characters, and emoji. The tool can even switch between multiple language inputs on the fly with a toolbar icon.
Chrome has many sterling qualities, but efficient RAM usage is not one of them. The Great Suspender is a friend to anyone who often lets dozens of tabs sit unused. It automatically suspends unused tabs after a set time, which frees up memory and keeps Chrome from getting bogged down in its own processes. The extension includes custom settings that allow you to adjust the time before suspension, and a whitelist for sites to keep permanently active, the latter of which is quite useful for email or instant messaging tools that offer notifications.
Make your own
Popular services often create their own Chrome app or extension these days, and those that don’t usually have a third-party version available. But if neither is to your taste, the Windows version of Chrome allows users to manually create a “web app” shortcut, which opens the page in a dedicated window with no unnecessary user interface elements. These application shortcuts can be pinned to the Windows Start Menu or taskbar. To create an application shortcut, open your desired Web page and click the Menu button. Then, click More tools and Create shortcut.
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