Over the years, I’ve migrated from one web browser to another as needs and changing technology dictated. For me, that’s included Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and my latest browser of choice, Google Chrome. Once I adopted Chrome—on both my PC and my Android phone—I began to encounter all manner of browser extensions that have offered me enhanced functionality. I’d like to share some of these treasures that have improved the browser experience for me. There are similar extensions for Firefox and other browsers, but I’ll focus on those I use on Chrome.
If you want to see if you already have any extensions installed, go to the Chrome menu on the toolbar, select Tools and then Extensions. Google recently added new measures to protect your computer. These measures will identify software that violates Chrome’s standard mechanisms for deploying extensions, flagging such binaries as malware. You will see Safe Browsing malicious download warnings when attempting to download malware identified by this criteria.
It’s easy to add extensions from the Chrome Web Store. Browse by categories, such as business tools, news & weather, productivity, and utilities. There’s an amazing wealth of choices available.
Evernote Web Clipper
Evernote is a handy place to put everything you want to store in one place—notes, images, documents, web clips, and even audio notes. It works on computers, phones, and tablets, and Sync makes your notes accessible across your devices. My geeky software engineer son says he uses it daily and finds it indispensable. I also use the free account but a premium account is available and offers bigger upload capacity, greater sharing options, gives you access to note history, better document searching, faster image recognition, and more. It cost $5 per month or $45 per year.
I use the Evernote Web Clipper extension to save things I see on the web into my Evernote account. Forget about bookmarks and open tabs—you can save the actual webpage with text, links, images, and all with a single click. You can organize the content by notebooks, tags, and note links. It lets you search through your notes. If you need inspiration for how this can help you, read this article by Whitson Gordon in Lifehacker, “I’ve been using it wrong: Here’s why Evernote is actually amazing.”
My personal work style is to have a lot of tabs open in my browser at the same time. I have discovered a nifty little extension called OneTab that will convert all of my tabs into a list. When I need to access the tabs again, I can restore them individually or all at once. Here’s the cool part: When your tabs are in the OneTab list, you will save up to 95% of memory because you will have reduced the number of tabs open in Google Chrome.
Email this page (by Google)
This extension adds an email button to the toolbar that allows you to email the page link using your default mail client or Gmail. You can even select a chunk of text and have it show up in the message. The title of the page you are looking at will be the subject of the newly created email and the webpage address will appear at the top of the email message, followed by any text you selected. This is so handy, given all the sites I visit and the information I share with folks.
Send to Kindle
This is an official Amazon.com extension. It lets me send news articles, blog posts, and other web content to my Kindle or to a Kindle reading app. I can do it in one step or preview it before I send it. It lets me select the text, and edit the title and author of the document that I save. I can archive it in my Kindle library online and download it when I want. This has been great for reading longer online articles.
This adds a small icon that looks like a stack of books in the address bar of the browser. It lets you choose your local library. Then, when you are browsing at Amazon or other book sites, it will check to see if your library has it.
WOT—Web of Trust
WOT helps you find trustworthy websites based on millions of users’ experiences and is said to be one of Chrome’s most popular add-ons. Web of Trust (WOT) shows you with intuitive traffic lights which websites you can trust for safe surfing, shopping, and searching on the web. I’m just testing it out and was surprised to find the WOT symbol show up within Facebook posts—nice! Clicking through will link to the full WOT Reputation Scorecard. [See the screen for an example.]
Google recently announced the availability of a new Google Chrome extension that lets you open Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files right in your browser with a single click. The Chrome Office Viewer is available now in beta and compatible with the Windows and Mac versions of Chrome. Note, however, that the extension requires the latest beta of the Chrome browser and will not work with the current stable release.
Lewis Humphries of Investopedia has an interesting list of six “Browser Extensions That Save You Money.” He notes that, “When shopping online, there are a number of components that contribute towards a frugal, safe and positive consumer experience. The use of innovative browser extensions can help to enhance the overall experience by easing the process of shopping and minimizing the security risks involved. These extensions are also free to download, and they dramatically reduce the time needed to appraise products and find the best possible deal.” I haven’t tried these yet but definitely plan to—especially one called PriceBlink. Available on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, this tool presents you with an automatic comparison of prices while you shop. As you browse a relevant product page, PriceBlink will display a range of competing prices that may enable you to make considerable savings. It reportedly displays shipping costs and alerts you to coupons and free shipping codes.
I hope you enjoy the ones I’ve listed and venture to explore for others. Please comment if you have some favorites in your browser toolkit.