A browser without extensions is like a smartphone without apps. Yes, it can get the job done, but there’s so much more it could do.
Extensions are like apps that make your life easier. Extensions can empower your browser and give instant access to information and services. A useful extension can provide shortcuts, give you information, save you from embarrassment and enhance your Internet abilities. Like apps, extensions are designed to bring power with minimal effort.
Unlike a toolbar, extensions don’t take up additional screen space. But like apps, you don’t want to add too many. Extensions can slow your browser speed. Frustrated when a page takes a long time to load? It may be an extension bogging it down.
Chrome, Firefox and Safari allow extensions (called Add-ons in Firefox), which is why many people prefer to use these browsers. In the early days of The Wonder of Tech, I covered Firefox Add-ons in Fun With Browsers!, but now it’s time to cover Chrome Extensions.
How to Get Extensions
In Chrome, go to the Chrome Web Store and search for extensions you might like (or head to Firefox Add-ons and Safari extensions if you use those browsers). You can check them out by name, category or by what’s hot. Most extensions are free so be sure to take time to explore to find ones you’ll find especially useful.
Make sure to check the reviews. No matter how much you might crave an extension, if the reviews are negative you should probably resist the urge to download it.
When you find one you want, click on the Add to Chrome button at the top of the page. The extension icon should appear on your toolbar to the right of the address field. Now anytime you sign into Chrome on any computer, the extension will appear.
You can rearrange the order of your extension icons by dragging and dropping them on your toolbar.
To access your extensions, go to Settings (the three stacked lines icon in the upper right corner of your toolbar), click on Settings and then Extensions in the left sidebar.
You can adjust your extension settings, enable or disable them, or delete them.
Fantastic Chrome Extensions
Here are the promised 15 fantastic Chrome extensions, in alphabetical order:
Adblock Plus also blocks advertising on websites but this plugin lets you enable ads for websites that depend on advertising for their existence and use ads in a non-intrusive way. This feature not only supports websites but also encourages the use of non-intrusive advertising. You can find out more about this optional setting from the Adblock Plus website.
Check out the Adblock Plus video showing how the extension works:
When you want to take a picture of your screen, Awesome Screenshot makes the job easy. With Awesome Screenshot you can take a picture of your entire screen or a part of the screen. You can crop, annotate and edit your image before you save it. You can save your images to your computer, Google Drive or to the Awesome Screenshot website so you can share your screenshot using a link.
Here’s a video showing how to use Awesome Screenshot:
See my review of Awesome Screenshot Smile! It’s Awesome Screenshot Time!
Scheduling a post to social media has never been easier than with the Buffer extension. Click on the Buffer extension icon to share websites with your friends on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. My full review of Buffer: Buffer: The Twitter Tool You Should Be Using.
The Evernote extension allows you to save web clips directly to an Evernote notebook. When you find an important website you could bookmark it, but then you can’t read it offline and you’re in trouble if the website is ever shuttered. With Evernote you can take a screenshot of the website that is saved directly into your notebook so you can access it offline or on other computers or mobile devices. Here’s a video showing Evernote Web Clipper in action:
My full review of Evernote: Evernote: A Powerful Organizational Tool!
Double-click on a word and Google Dictionary will provide you with the definition of the word. This extension will even translate foreign words into your native language (or another language you choose).
When you come upon a website in a foreign language, Google Translate will recognize the language and ask you if you wish to translate it. Click Yes and within seconds Google will show you the page in your native language.
Not every website has social media sharing buttons. When you want to share a website, use HootSuite Hootlet to share directly to Facebook, Twitter, Google + or other social media sites. Check out a full review of HootSuite by guest author Manickam Vijayabanu: HootSuite – An Impressive Social Network Scheduler
InvisibleHand is a powerful extension that can save you both time and money. When you shop online, InvisibleHand searches other retail sites for lower prices. A yellow banner appears at the top of your screen showing you the search results, whether InvisibleHand has found a better price or not. Clicking that banner will show you prices for the item, including shipping and handling, at other websites. See my full review of Invisible Hand: InvisibleHand – For Economical Online Shopping!
This extension will alert you when someone is requesting permission to access your accounts on social media, email and other registered website. Clicking on the extension icon will start a scan to tell you who has which rights to your accounts. Check out my full review of My Permissions Cleaner: Clean Up Your Permissions!
If you’re a tab hoarder, you might have dozens of tabs open in your browser constantly. While switching between tabs may seem convenient, each open tab uses memory and can slow your computer down. Switching between open pages can become challenging as the tabs get smaller with each open page.
This extension collects your open tabs and puts them into a single pages, speeding up your computer and making it easier to navigate to each page. OpenTab can save 95% of the memory used by your browser.
No need to waste time clicking on a Facebook photo, this extension enlarges photos on Facebook when you hover your mouse over them.
Find out who has been emailing you in a sidebar with Rapportive. Rapportive replaces the advertisements in the sidebar of your Gmail with information about the sender of a message. Connect to them on social media and see their latest tweets in Rapportive. My full review of Rapportive: Rapportive – Peeking Behind the Email Curtain!
Wise Stamp allows you to add a custom signature to the end of your emails. By getting the Wise Stamp extension, you can use one signature for all of your email accounts that includes your logo, links to your social media accounts and latest blog post. My full review of WiseStamp: Dress Your Email for Success with WiseStamp!
Extensions For Bloggers
If you’re a blogger, these extensions will help you with writing, posting and monitoring your blog:
The Alexa extension will help you judge the popularity of a website by showing you the Alexa ranking of a website when you hover your cursor over the extension icon.
This extension shows you at a glance your WordPress states. The number of visits to your website appears in a red circle on the extension icon in real time so you don’t need to refresh your Site Stats page throughout the day. The counter mysteriously disappears on my toolbar at about 7 pm EST but is still helpful during the day.
Add the Zemanta extension to give you suggested images and related posts for your article as you write your draft in your WordPress dashboard. Your blog doesn’t need to have a plugin to use Zemanta, you can use the Zemanta extension instead to have the same information displayed as you write your blog post in visual mode.
See also, The Best Chrome Extensions from Make Use Of.
Using extensions can save you time, money and aggravation as well as providing you with useful information. Check out extensions to see which ones will help you make the best use of your browser.
Do you use extensions? Which ones are your favorites? Share your favorites in the Comments section below!