Best 10 Google Chrome Extensions or Addons
Google Chrome is a popular web browser for Windows, Mac and Linux that recently became the most widely-used web browser world-wide. One of the many reasons for this is how easy it is to customize Google Chrome to make it your own through Google Chrome extensions. These little files are installed with one click and modifies the browsing experience in different ways, or provides extra functionality within the browser so you don't have to change programs.
There are literally thousands of Google Chrome extensions available, so this is a list of the ten extensions I use on a regular basis that I think will be helpful for a general audience. There are a lot of other guides available on the web that can help you find more extensions for more specific reasons, like social or productivity, so forgive me if I leave out one of your favourite Google Chrome extensions.
1. Go Extensions
This is one of the first extensions you will want to install in your journey to customize Google Chrome. It provides quick access to the list of extensions you have installed in the browser, allowing you to enable/disable them, or install/uninstall them completely. I recommend it because it saves a lot of time if you want to uninstall one of the other extensions I list below, or if you want to turn some things off before allowing a friend to use your computer for browsing.
2. DuckDuckGo Zero-Click Info
This extension is for people who have privacy concerns when browsing with Google. Google Search captures a lot of your personal information, your search history, location, etc. to create more beneficial search results for you making them more personal. DuckDuckGo strips out everything personal and only gives you the best results around on the web. It is relatively easy to change the default search engine in Google to DuckDuckGo, but I suggest this browser as a way to test out the service.
What happens is you visit Google to perform a search. After entering in your search terms, a box appears above the Google results that displays the main results from DuckDuckGo. This gives you quick comparison between how their results relate to Google's without tab switching. Besides clicking thru to the individual results, you can also open up the full list of search results with a quick click of a button.
One of the biggest changes in browsing behaviour in the past few years is how people use bookmarks less and instead store the entire article or page in an alternative source for later reading. Popular services include Instapaper, Read It Later, Pocket, and so on. One of my preferred services is Evernote, because you can access your notes (saved articles, images, notes, basically anything digital) from your desktop, the web, your iPad, and your mobile phone (iOS, Android).
With Clearly, you can easily strip out all the unwanted stuff from a webpage (the ads, the comment section, navigation controls) and store only the meat of the webpage, the actual content you want to read. Storing it in Evernote allows you to tag the page, read it offline, or easily print it. And, of course, it's free, just like Evernote.
4. Ad Block
In a similar fashion to the fore-mentioned Clearly, Ad Block strips out all the visible advertisements on a web page to make the page more readable. In the case where the ads are located in a flexible area (i.e. a sidebar), the extension will shift the content below the ads upwards making the reading experience even better.
There are other features available with this extension, but this is the main appeal for installing the extension. It has been downloaded over 6 million times, making it one of the most popular extensions ever, if not the most popular. It is an essential Google Chrome extension to install.
5. Google Dictionary
This is one of the simplest Chrome extensions out there, but most likely one of the most useful ones, as well. Find a word you don't know in a text area, double-click on it and a pop-up will display providing the definition of that word. It only works for single words, but it does work on foreign words. You can choose the language of your dictionary at the outset, too. Useful for when trying to learn a new language.
6. Checker Plus for Gmail
There are a lot of extensions to choose from that provide extra functionality for Gmail, but it's hard to go wrong with this one. Besides getting notifications of new email (with a display picture and subject line), you can preview your email within the popup window that displays overtop of your current page - no need to navigate away to Gmail. You can also have the program read you the new email, and set it as the default email service easily. Oh, and it handles multiple accounts.
If you love Gmail, you'll love Checker Plus for Gmail.
I was only going to include one Gmail extension, but this one is too slick not to include. WiseStamp is basically your email signature on steroids. Easily upload an image of yourself, an avatar, or your company logo. Include icons for all your social media profiles, insert your latest tweet, latest Facebook status message, and more. You have full control of which profiles display, and how your signature looks. Best of all, the signature displays properly regardless of whether the person opens the email in Gmail or in Outlook or other mail program.
Take your email signature to the next level with WiseStamp.
8. Facebook for Chrome
Like Gmail, there are Google Chrome extensions for every social media site imaginable: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, reddit. You name it, there's something.
I decided to pick out this one, Facebook for Chrome, because it gives you a cleaned up version of Facebook to browse within Chrome without having to load the mobile site. Take a quick look at your news stream, read your messages, enter in a status message, and even share a picture all from the browser pop-up. You can also get notifications when you receive a new message or other notification.
Extremely handy for the people who just want a quick glance without having to wait for the full site to load.
9. Turn Off the Lights
I watch a lot of videos in YouTube, so I decided to pick out two extensions that make the experience a little more enjoyable.
Turn Off the Lights greys out every aspect of the webpage other than the video and its controls. No more looking at flashing ads, or other distracting video titles, or the comments. Focus on the video you're watching and it returns to normal after the video has finished. Great for when watching videos at night and you don't want that white screen bouncing back at you while watching a dark video.
10. YouTube Downloader
How many times have you come across a live performance of one of your favourite bands/DJs and you want to capture the mp3 file for playback later? Or maybe a family member uploaded a home video of a special occasion and you want to easily archive it without having to bother them with uploading it to a service like Google Drive for download later?
With YouTube Downloader, this problem is solved. With any YouTube video, you can download and save the full video (MP4 or FLAC) or strip out the mp3 audio of the video. It works great and is very useful. I'm not positive how long it will be available though, so grab it while you can.