By David Nield.
One of the great things about Google Chrome is that it offers thousands of third-party extensions that developers have come up with to add features, boost performance, and fix problems. Here are 17 Chrome extensions that we’d have a difficult time living without.
You don’t have to reach for a dictionary or open up a new tab to find out what a word means with this extension installed. Just double-click on the word that’s flummoxed you, and a definition pops up instantly. Follow the embedded link to see a more detailed explanation.
There are a bunch of extensions out there to help manage browser tab overload, but Tab Wrangler is one of our favorites. You get the option to automatically close inactive tabs, an easy way to get closed tabs back again, and the ability to sync settings across computers.
For even more control over tabs, install Session Buddy. It lets you save, close, and retrieve groups of tabs together, so you don’t need to keep hundreds of tabs open at once and waste RAM for fear of forgetting something. The user reviews speak for themselves. This is a great extension for power users.
One of the better-known and most capable privacy tracking extensions out there, Ghostery displays a detailed breakdown of all the information sites are gathering on you, giving you background on how this data is collected and enabling you to block any of this behavior.
If you’re one of the millions of Netflix subscribers out there, Flix Plus (by our friends at Lifehacker) adds a ton of options to the web interface. Quick search links, embedded ratings, the option to hide spoiler text, a more customizable home screen, and more.
If Flix Plus is the ultimate add-on for Netflix, then this is the equivalent for YouTube. It’s piled high with features, from a cinema mode and mouse wheel volume control to options for stopping video auto-play and forcing all clips to use the highest possible quality.
In the extremely high likelihood that you use Chrome alongside a group of other devices and computers, Pushbullet is a must, allowing you to quickly and seamlessly beam messages, files, links, notifications, and more between all of your different gadgets.
If you’re on a slow or limited connection, or perhaps tethering from your phone, then Google’s Data Saver extension can make a big difference to your browsing speed. It compresses non-HTTPS sites in non-incognito windows before they reach Chrome.
Grammarly is an extension we’ve featured before, and it keeps an eye on all the writing you do on the web, marking potential spelling and grammar mistakes so you can fix them. A click brings up a suggested solution, and you can get details of the rules you’ve broken.
If you dream of a web without intrusive ads then AdBlock Plus can make it a reality. It’s simple to configure and use, and like all the best ad blockers, it lets you allow discreet, well-made advertising on sites that need it to support their writers (such as Gizmodo).
If you find you lack the willpower to regulate your time on the web yourself, StayFocusd does it for you. We like it for the comprehensive set of options (limit by hours or maximum duration, site blacklists and whitelists) and the unfussy interface it brings to the table.
Buffer makes managing multiple social media accounts simple, but it’s still packed with powerful features for managing posts on Facebook, Twitter, and more. Install the Chrome extension and you can queue up neatly formatted updates with a couple of mouse clicks.
Gauge is an indispensable toolkit for measuring various aspects of the interaction between your computer and the web. Where in the world sites are hosted, how long they’re taking to load, how your internet connection stacks up against other users, and more besides.
Where do all the hours in the day go? RescueTime can tell you exactly where, and help you get some of them back, monitoring your internet usage quietly in the background and showing what percentage of your time on the web is actually spend being productive.
For anyone who’s struggled with an overly complex remote desktop tool, this extension is a breeze to use. It lets you take control of a system remotely from any other system, with the Chrome browser doing all the heavy lifting. It’s especially helpful on Chromebooks.
LastPass gets a mention in a lot of Chrome extension round-ups, and with good reason. It intuitively manages browser passwords and other sensitive data across multiple devices, and has the added bonus of being able to generate random passwords for you as well.
There’s no shortage of extensions for tricking out Chrome’s New Tab screen but we highly recommend Earth View from Google Earth—a gorgeous, high-res satellite shot every time you open it up, with quick links to share or download the image, or get to your web apps.