Over the past year or so, you must have noticed how important the Chrome browser has become in your daily life, both at work and home. Even if you don’t use Chrome or an Android phone, chances are those around you, do. Chrome currently has a grasp on about 25% of the desktop browser market, second only to the behemoth that is Internet Explorer.
As Chrome expands its user base, it has also gained the attention of multiple developers who have created thousands of handy extensions that greatly increase the utility, usability and scope of what the browser can do and what you can do with it.
Here are 11 such extensions that do exactly that.
1. The Great Suspender
The biggest complaint that users have with Chrome is that it’s a memory hog and even if you’re the biggest Chrome fan on earth, you can’t ignore that particular issue. This becomes a much more serious issue if you are a tab hoarder, i.e. you always have more 10 to 15 tabs open all the time, and your system always feels slow because of Chrome.
The Great Suspender is an extension that suspends tabs that you’ve not used for a predetermined amount of time (by default, that time is set to 1 hour) and clears up system memory. I’ve been using The Great Suspender for about two weeks now and thanks to the extension, it literally feels like I have a less crappy office PC.
You don’t need me to tell you that using an ad blocker makes large portions of the Internet infinitely easier to bear. While Adblock Plus (ABP) is the most popular ad blocker extension for Chrome, it’s also quite heavy in terms of memory usage. There’s also the deal with ABP’s whitelist, a list of ad sources that the extension doesn’t block by default because it deems them ‘acceptable’ and ‘non-intrusive’.
uBlock is a popular extension for Chrome that’s not only lighter than ABP but also doesn’t have a default whitelist. uBlock offers a set of features that’s very similar to ABP but it does so while taking up less resources.
Sure, Chrome has a built-in bookmarks manager but the less said about it, the better. Instead, try out Pocket, a popular extension that you can use to quickly save pages for reading later. One of the best features of Pocket is that it offers a tagging system that lets you quickly add tags to saved pages. This really helps in keeping your library of saved pages organised and I’ve been using it, when writing longer stories for Digit, to keep track of my research.
Pocket also has an app for both iOS and Android which means that you can access (and save to) a central repository of saved content both on your phone and desktop.
Chrome’s save password feature may help you easily remember passwords for different websites but it doesn’t offer much in terms of practical security. Theoretically, the passwords database in Chrome is protected by your Windows user account password, but how many of us actually put any thought into our Windows passwords?
LastPass has been around for a while and offers a much more secure way to store all your passwords. LastPass prompts you every time you register on a new website, allows you to pick from lists of randomly generated strong passwords and lets you quickly log into any website with the click of a button. All you need to do is to remember one master password.
LastPass also has apps for iOS and Android but if you want to use the service on your phone, you’ll have to pay up.
5. Google Art Project
Google Art Project may not be a particularly useful extension but it does do wonders to improve the way Chrome looks. If you’ve installed the GAP extension, every time you open a new tab, you will be greeted by an art masterpiece from great artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Shin Yun Bok. Nothing like a little bit of culture to start your day.
Momentum, like Google Art Project, is an extension that changes the way a new tab looks in a positive way. However, unlike Google’s extension, Momentum shows photographs and quotes instead of artwork and also displays some information such as weather, tasks and favourite links. Momentum also gives you some freedom in customizing the way you want your new tab to look.
As Google Art Project showed, Google has also built some great extensions for its Chrome browser. One of them is Google Dictionary, a handy tool that quickly gives you a definition for any word you may find on a website. After you install the extension, when you come across a word that you want to define, just double click the word and you’ll get a small yellow pop-up with the definition. If you want a more comprehensive definition, then just click the extension icon next to the Chrome URL bar.
The Google Dictionary extension also serves as a reference guide and can give you definitions and explanations for any proper nouns, abbreviations etc., as well.
PushBullet is one of the handiest extensions that I’ve come across. What it does is push notifications that you get on your phone to your desktop so that you don’t have to look away from your PC everytime you get an SMS or a Whatsapp message. You can mute these notifications and act upon them to a degree based on the app sending the notification. For instance, if you get an SMS or a Whatsapp message, you can reply right from the desktop notification; on the other hand, if you’re using a third party email app, you can mark emails as read or just mute the app altogether. You’ll also get notifications about the songs currently playing on your phone, something I personally find very handy.
To use Pushbullet, all you need to do is install the extension in Chrome and install the app on your phone. The rest should take care of itself.
While Indian Internet users can access a huge swathe of the Web, there are certain sites and services hidden behind geographical restrictions. ProxMate ensures that if you’re a Netflix or a Spotify fan from our shores, you can access them without issues. ProxMate works a little bit differently than other VPN services because it requires you to install modules for individual services and websites you want to access. Once you do that, you should have no problem listening to the latest music on Pandora and Spotify or watching the latest episode of Daredevil on Netflix.
Hola, like ProxMate, is a VPN extension that lets you access geographically restricted content on the Internet. However, unlike ProxMate, Hola works without installing any modules and you can use it to access sites immediately.
The downside to Hola is that it may result in a security or privacy risk for you because of its P2P nature. As a result, it lets other users utilize your connection to access content blocked in their respective countries. I’d personally suggest you use ProxMate unless you’re okay with the risk that using Hola entails for the ‘one-click’ ease it brings.
Staying true to the adage, “Save the best for last”, I give you Streamus, a Chrome extension with a neat, streamlined interface that lets you listen to music from YouTube videos without actually opening YouTube or playing the video. Streamus also lets you create playlists and save them, which means that this is one extension that everyone should have installed.
Did I miss out on your favourite Chrome extension? Let me know on Twitter @digitindia