Chrome is Google’s web browser, and even without any additional enhancements, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who thinks it’s rubbish. Privacy-invading and a slave to its Google Masters, maybe, but certainly not rubbish.
But strap on a few extensions – small plugins that make Chrome do new and interesting things – and it becomes amazing.
Here’s a list of the top 10 Chrome extensions that we get a lot of use out of here at the htxt.africa offices, for a wide range of useful things like blocking internet ads, fooling sites into believing we’re not in South Africa and more.
On to the list!
This is undoubtedly the handiest extension in my arsenal, as it blocks banner ads and YouTube video ads completely.
It’s free, but you’re encouraged to donate to the software’s author if you’d like to. Me, I donated – this extension has saved me so much aggravation that it was worth the something-something I donated.
But perhaps most importantly, get Adblock because it’s not Adblock Plus. That’s a similarly named advertisement-blocker which recently reached an agreement with Google, Microsoft and other big companies in which it now receives money so as… to not to block their ads. Rather defeats the object then.
Remember Adblock = Good. Adblock Plus = Bad.
Want to access Hulu and Netflix via your browser, but you keep getting told it’s not available in your region? Hola gets around that by fooling websites and internet-based services into believing you’re in another country entirely using some clever VPN proxy trickery.
To use it, simply install the extension, click on it and choose the country you’d like to use and voila, Hola does the rest. Your internet connection may slow down a teensy bit as Hola does all the hard work, but it’s worth it to get access to all of the blocked international video content we’re denied as SA residents.
But best of all, it can be easily deactivated with a few clicks of the mouse when it’s not needed.
These password managers sit quietly in your browser, offering to create complex passwords for services you sign up for, saving those password and automatically filling them in when needed.
All you need to remember is a single master password, but be careful, if you forget that you’re buggered. Like, properly – there is literally NO WAY to retrieve it. So be sure to be sure.
Do you Tweet from multiple accounts? Use Facebook and other social media services a lot? Hootsuite lets you monitor and manage it all, right from within Chrome. This is especially useful when attempting to keep work and personal Twitter accounts separate, and will prevent things like Tweets from your personal account that you wouldn’t want your professional contacts to see.
You probably come across articles and videos in your daily web-surfing that you’d like to read or watch, but you don’t have time for in that very second. Pocket lets you create a list of articles and videos that you can go back and watch or read when you have time.
Best of all, it has an app for other operating systems like Android and iOS, allowing you to synchronise that list across multiple devices.
This handy little extension is brilliant for those with more than one Google Mail account, as it lets you switch between them all quickly and easily. It also shows you a preview of your inbox’s contents without forcing you to open Gmail in a browser window.
You’ll also see the number of unread mails in your primary account displayed prominently over the icon. It’s a great way to track how close you are to Inbox Zero, if such a thing is even possible in your world.
Thanks to this clever bit of code, there’s no longer an excuse to confuse lose with loose, their with there or any of the other words people commonly get wrong on the internet these days.
Grammarly plugs into your browser and monitors what you write while using specific services (Twitter, Facebook, Gmail), looking out for these sorts of mistakes, and helpfully highlights them for you so that you have the chance to correct them before hitting Send on that important email, Tweet or status update.
Basically, it’s there to stop you from looking like a fool on the internet.
Do you often need to capture a section of your screen to an image, or even an entire web page that scrolls down for miles?
Then Awesome Screenshot will come in quite handy: to start a capture, simply click on its icon and choose what you want to do – capture the entire screen, a complete web page, a specific area or any of a number of other options. The app then saves it, and does things like let you make annotations, upload the image to Google Drive and more.
To get more mileage out of Awesome Screenshot: Capture & Annotate, grab this app from the Chrome Web Store. It allows you to annotate the screenshots you capture quickly and easily without having to load up another, possibly bulkier application.
How to install extensions in Chrome
Okay, so all of these sound pretty rad, but if you’re new to the world of alternative web browsers, here’s how to install extensions in Chrome.
Step 1: Go to the Chrome Web Store
Open Chrome. If you don’t have it, download it from Google.com/chrome.
Head over to the Chrome Web Store by entering https://chrome.google.com/webstore into the address bar and pressing enter.
On the left corner, you’ll see Apps, Extensions and Themes. Click Extensions.
Step 2: Find your extensions
Enter the name of the extension you’re after into the Search box, and press Enter. Once it comes up, click the blue Free+ button.
If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, finding extensions can be a bit tricky as there are literally thousands to choose from. Our advice is to read through the descriptions, check the number of downloads and, most importantly, see what the rating of each is in order to find the extensions best-suited to your needs.
A good rule to follow is that the higher the rating, the more effective, useful and stable the extension is likely to be.
Once you’ve found an extension you want, simply hover your mouse over it and click the blue + Free button and you’re done.