Google Chrome is one of the most popular Internet browsers in the world, and part of the reason is the massive library of extensions it has. These miniature add-on programs give you a huge degree of flexibility and customization when it comes to how you browse the World Wide Web, and what else you can do while doing so. But which ones are worth an install, and which ones will just take up space?
We’ve surveyed the tech experts’ opinions and put together this list of 23 of the best Chrome plug-ins. Here’s a quick look at what we’ll cover:
- What is a web browser extension?
- Top 6 Chrome extensions for security and privacy
- 6 best productivity extensions for Chrome
- 6 must-have Chrome extensions for interface management
- 5 best Chrome add-ons for everything else
Are you ready to expand your web browsing capabilities? Great! Then let’s get going!
What is a web browser extension?
A web browser extension – also sometimes called a plug-in or add-on – is a miniature piece of computer software that integrates with the existing program of your Internet browser. This lets you change the way your web browser does things, or make it do something that it normally couldn’t do.
Web browser extensions can do all sorts of things, including:
- Change how your web browser looks, or how the content you see on it is displayed
- Allow your browser to work with certain file types, such as Flash, QuickTime, and Java
- Actively scan for viruses and malware while you’re browsing the Internet
- Allow you to quickly access search engines, including some for specific websites
And, as you’ll soon see, web browsers extensions can do all sorts of other helpful things! Here are 23 of the most helpful ones for the Google Chrome web browser that tech experts can’t seem to do without.
Top 6 Chrome extensions for security and privacy
As the scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica has demonstrated, protecting the privacy and security of your data online is more important than ever. Fortunately, there are plenty of Chrome extensions that can help you do that by blocking intrusive advertisements, throw off behind-the-scenes programs that track you, securely store your online account passwords, and more!
LastPass is a password manager that stores – and can automatically deploy – the log-in information for all of your online accounts. This means you only ever have to remember one password: the one that logs you into LastPass! It also has tools for generating passwords, checking the strength of your passwords, and assessing the overall security of your online accounts.
Ghostery can block advertisements on websites, helping you focus on the good stuff. It also allows you to see who’s tracking you on different websites, and either block their tracking capabilities or anonymize your data to protect your privacy. It can even automatically block trackers as a web page loads so that it loads faster!
3. Adblock Plus
Get annoying and intrusive advertisements – including video ads or ones with sound – out of the way when you’re browsing the Internet with Adblock Plus. It can even block tracking programs and malware! You can customize Adblock Plus to block certain elements on websites, or even create a list of websites that you don’t mind seeing advertising on (because they rely on advertising revenue to function).
4. HTTPS Everywhere
This simple extension from the Electronic Frontier Foundation forces Chrome to load the HTTP Secure (HTTPS) version of a website, if one is available. It can also block elements of a website that don’t use the HTTPS protocol. This helps to protect you from online tracking, cyber-attacks, and even some forms of Internet censorship.
5. Web of Trust
Web of Trust (or WOT) taps into research done by millions of safety-conscious Internet users to keep you protected while browsing online. Each website you visit – or that shows up as a search engine result – will have a safety score and a reputation score, letting you know how safe and trustworthy the WOT community has determined it to be (and you can submit your own review, too!). In addition, if you are about to visit a potentially dangerous website, WOT will let you know and explain why it may be unsafe.
6. uBlock Origin
uBlock Origin is another Chrome extension that can help you block advertisements and other unwanted programs from loading and running while you’re browsing the Internet. Its claim to fame is that it can load and enforce many more filters to block undesirable web elements – all while using less memory – than other comparable ad blockers. You can choose which filters to enable or disable, as well as which websites you want uBlock Origin enabled or disabled on.
6 best productivity extensions for Chrome
Let’s face it: the way the Internet is designed often forces people to multitask, and not everyone is good at that. However, you can compensate by using these Chrome extensions that do things like save and remember important information for later, help you improve your communication skills, and even block out distractions so you can stay on task.
1. Save to Pocket
With just a couple of clicks or key presses, Save to Pocket lets you create a record of a web page, article, social media post, video… even something on the other side of a hyperlink! Add tags to records to make them easier to search for, or get recommendations on other things you might find interesting. You can even view your saved records on any device – even if you’re offline!
2. Evernote Web Clipper
Similar to Save to Pocket, Evernote Web Clipper lets you make a record of useful or interesting stuff on the Internet– whether you need a whole web page, just the main text, or even a screenshot of a certain area. Once it’s captured to your Evernote account, you can organize it into notebooks, highlight and annotate the important parts, share it with others, and more.
To learn more about how Evernote works, visit our course on it.
Clean up your written online communication with Grammarly. It can help you correct spelling mistakes, words used in the wrong context, and hundreds of different types of grammatical errors. You can also use it to store and proofread documents, as well as get periodic analysis on how well you write.
StayFocusd does pretty much what it says – it helps you stay focused on things you need to do and avoid getting distracted. Set up lists of “allowed” websites and “blocked” websites, and then set a timer. If you spend too long on the “blocked” websites, StayFocusd will lock you out of all of them for the rest of the day. You can also set other options, like allowing/blocking only certain parts of websites, or requiring yourself to solve a puzzle to access “blocked” content in the first place.
5. Session Buddy
Session Buddy is an advanced bookmarking tool that helps you better manage your web browsing sessions when you have multiple tabs and/or windows open. With as little as two clicks, you can save all tabs and windows you’re currently looking at as a session. Then you can organize tabs by window – and windows by session – so when you need to get back to something, you can open as little or as much as you need. There’s even a search feature to help you find exactly what you need to restore!
Noisli is a great tool if you have difficulty staying on task in work environments that are too loud or too quiet. It lets you listen to combinations of ambient sounds that help you focus when you need to and relax when you don’t. You can also adjust the volume of sound combos, set a timer for a specific sound combo to start and stop, and even schedule different sound combos to play at different times.
6 must-have Chrome extensions for interface management
Though Google Chrome has a somewhat minimalist interface design, there are some extensions you can add to enhance its capabilities – or shore up its weaknesses – to make it easier and more comfortable to browse Internet content with. Among other things, they can clean up open tabs to make browsing faster and more organized; show enlarged versions of pictures without having to load a new web page; and block out web page elements so that you can concentrate on something you’re reading or watching.
1. The Great Suspender
Google Chrome is notorious for using a lot of memory when compared to other web browsers, so The Great Suspender was created to help with that. If you have multiple tabs open in Chrome, The Great Suspender can stop all elements from loading or running on the ones you aren’t using to conserve memory use. You can choose to suspend tabs automatically after a certain period of disuse, do it manually, or protect certain tabs from being automatically suspended. When you need to use a tab again, simply click on it, and then click anywhere on the page.
OneTab is kind of a cross between Session Buddy and The Great Suspender. With one click, it allows you save all open tabs in Chrome to a session list, and then closes them. Then, when you click OneTab again, you can reload your saved tabs individually or all at once. This can really help speed your computer up or help it recover from sleep mode quicker, especially if the tabs you had open were running a lot of programs in the background.
3. Hover Zoom
Hover Zoom helps you view images (and sometimes videos) properly on tons of popular websites by enlarging them to full size, or at least as big as your browser window will allow. All you have to do is move your mouse cursor over them – no need to load an extra web page! You can enable or disable this extension on specific websites, or set it to only work when you’re holding down a specific keyboard key.
4. Mercury Reader
Reading articles online can be tough with advertisements, links to other articles, and auto-playing videos distracting you. Mercury Reader lets you block all that clutter with a single click or keyboard shortcut. Then you can focus on the text, changing its size or typeface to suit your needs. Mercury Reader also makes it easy to print an article, or to share it to Facebook, Twitter, email, or your Kindle e-reader.
5. Turn Off the Lights
If you find it difficult to concentrate on watching a video online because of all the other stuff cluttering up the screen, give this extension a try. When you click it, it darkens the areas surrounding the video player so you can concentrate on the video. Clicking it again cancels the effect. It works for most popular video sites, and it has advanced options if you really want to customize your viewing experience.
6. Magic Actions for YouTube
Magic Actions for YouTube allows you to customize your YouTube video viewing experience to the max! Control a video’s volume by moving your mouse wheel! Fill in the area around the video player with a preset or custom color theme so you can focus on the video! Take and save a screenshot of the video with just one click! And much, much more!
5 best Chrome add-ons for everything else
There are many other types of useful Chrome extensions, as well. Some help you shop online. Others streamline your email or other communication functions. And still others can help you bust stress and get a day started on the right foot! Here’s a small sample of some other cool Chrome extensions.
Don’t spend hours scouring online coupon sites to save every cent you can – use Honey instead! It searches for eligible discounts on over 20,000 online stores, including cash-back programs for over 3500 stores. Then you can apply them at checkout with the click of a button. Also, if you like shopping on Amazon.com, Honey can help you by comparing prices for items across all sellers. You can also set up Honey to alert you when the price of an item drops.
2. Boomerang for Gmail
If you use Gmail as your primary email client, then Boomerang for Gmail can be a great help. It allows you to write an email immediately and then send it out later – without even needing to be online! Plus, it can track whether or not recipients of your emails have actually opened them, and allows you to set reminders to follow up with your contacts after a while (or if you don’t hear back from them). You can even use it to temporarily archive incoming emails, and then restore them when you’re ready to deal with them. It even features a virtual assistant that helps you write more engaging emails!
Momentum is a neat little Chrome extension that helps you start each web browsing session refreshed, motivated, and focused on what you need to get done. Whenever you open a blank browser tab or window in Chrome, you’ll be greeted with a beautiful landscape photo, an inspirational quote, the current time, and a forecast for the day’s weather. You can also use Momentum to set a goal you want to accomplish for the day, make a to-do list, store links to websites you visit frequently, search the Internet, and more!
Pushbullet lets you link all of the messaging services on your smartphone to your computer. So when you get a message or other notification on your phone, it shows up in Pushbullet. Then you can respond to the message from your computer instead of having to use your phone. You can also use Pushbullet to send a message, link, or file to your phone if you’ll need it on the go later. Note, however, that most of Pushbullet‘s core features only work if you have an Android smartphone.
5. The Camelizer
This somewhat humorously-named extension works similarly to Honey. It allows you to view detailed reports on how the price of virtually any item on Amazon has changed over time. You can also set The Camelizer up to monitor the price of an item and email you an alert when the price drops.
We hope you find an extension (or maybe more than one!) on this list that lets you get more out of your Internet browsing experience with Google Chrome than you ever thought possible! We should also mention that there are some specialized private web browsers, like Epic Privacy Browser or Comodo Dragon, that function like Chrome but have privacy features built in. Check those out if you feel inclined. And we have lessons on all sorts of other useful websites and apps, too!