Most, if not all of us, can remember a time when a web browser simply was what it was and if you wanted a new feature, or a certain bug drove you completely insane, all you could do was hope that it would be fixed in the next update – and who knew when that would be! Thankfully, we don’t live in that time anymore. As a result of years of user feedback and fierce competition between companies like Google, Mozilla, Apple, and Microsoft, user experience and browser speed have become the litmus test of any web browser. After all, the average web user has evolved more complex and customized needs. It’s only natural that the developers of your browser would take that into account and make it easy for you to customize your browsing experience in order to meet those specific needs and desires. That’s where Google Chrome Extensions come in.
What is a Google Chrome Extension?
A Google Chrome Extension is simply a lightweight program written by Google or any approved third party, that allows you to add useful features and functionality to your web browser. The possibilities are virtually endless. In the Google Chrome Web Store you’ll find a gallery of extensions that fall under a number of categories. There are Chrome extensions for blogging, shopping, sharing, sports, web design/development, and a bunch of other stuff too. And as a quick side note: You’ve probably also heard the term “addon” for this type of thing. There’s a good reason for that; extensions and addons are the same thing. Whereas “extension” is the term Google is pushing for it’s browser Chrome, an “addon” is typically the term used when someone is referring to adding features or functionality to Mozilla’s Firefox browser. It’s just a matter of semantics. In this post at least, we’ll only be dealing with Google Chrome Extensions.
To give you an idea of what’s possible with Google Chrome Extensions we’ve combed through the different categories and listed out what we believe are 10 essential Chrome extensions for improving your browsing experience. Let us know what you think in the comments below or hit us up on twitter!
1. Adblock Plus for Google Chrome – Boasting the title of “the most popular browser-extension in the world,” I think it’s safe to say that this one belongs on the list. This extension allows you to blog out just about any ad or annoying picture on any website. It’s now a bit easier to fight off the assault of advertisers on your sanity.
2. Google Chrome to Phone - Working in tandem with their android app for your phone or tablet, this extension installs a small button on your browser that allows you to push links, maps, selected text, and phone numbers from your computer to your mobile device.
3. feedly feedly – is a sleek and elegant way to view and consume the content you subscribe to online. By syncing feedly with google reader all the blogs, news sites, or other forms of content that you subscribe to are gathered in one place and reorganized into a beautiful magazine format.
4. Brand Thunder Chrome Themes – Brand Thunder creates beautifully designed themes to replace the standard (and often drab) appearance of your browser window. In addition to a new look, Brand Thunder themes also allow you to stay connected with some of your favorite sports teams, bands, or online companies through added features unique to each brand/theme.
5. Awesome Screenshot – Awesome Screenshot is a dead simple way to capture what’s on your screen, make basic edits/annotations, and save to your computer or the cloud.
6. Shareaholic – Find something cool? Post it to facebook, twitter, linkedin, tumblr, stumbleupon, gmail, buzz, and a TON of other places…right from the shareaholic browser extension without ever having to leave the page you’re on.
7. Todoist – This extension offers a simple yet feature rich to-do list and task management solution. By clicking on their icon once you’ve installed the extension, you’re able to create projects, sub projects/tasks, integrate with gmail, and schedule recurring tasks with it’s built in calendar. All-in-all it’s pretty nifty for getting stuff done.
8. StayFocused – This productivity extension is a must have if you find yourself wasting large amounts of time on stuff other than work. And since that describes 99.9% of the people using the Internet…well, this extension is for you. Install this extension. Limit your time on distracting sites. Get more work done.
9. Add to Amazon Wish List – See something you want? Quickly and easily add it to your wish list on Amazon without having to leave the page you’re on.
10. Mail Checker Plus for Google Mail – Tired of always having an extra tab open with your email? With Mail Checker Plus for Google Mail you can preview, read, delete, star, mark as spam, or archive right from the extension drop down.