If you’re like me, your browser is at the center of your work.
I’m a Chrome user, and I was sold initially on their minimal design and layout, along with the speed advantages it used to have.
However, other browsers have caught up in many areas and narrowed Chrome’s competitive advantages. What Google’s product still offers which sets it apart from the rest, is a huge store full of extensions and add-ons. The extension landscape Chrome offers cannot be rivaled.
So, we’ve decided to break down a host of extensions which can add value to your browsing experience.
- Virtual office add-ons
- Handy day-to-day tools
- Language improvement aids
- Developer tools
- Productivity boosters
- Social media helpers
Let’s dive in!
Use extensions to improve your virtual office experience
If you’re a user of Microsoft’s office package then this extension is a must have. This allows you to view, edit, and create office files in your browser. Seeing as it integrates with OneDrive, you can save your files in the cloud on the go. This extension isn’t just useful, but also shows Microsoft’s desire to shift in cloudier direction!
Save to Google Drive
This isn’t a particularly glamorous extension. It’s like an overly enthusiastic bookmarking tool in ways. However, this extension allows you to grab things you see around the web and save them into your Drive for later, and it makes those saves accessible by others through sharing settings. Generally useful if you’re a user of the GSuite platform.
This is one of the more exciting options. Moz are a big SEO and analytics company who gather loads of data all the time. Now, with the MozBar, you can access that data in your browser as you visit web pages. If you’re in an area like marketing particularly, the MozBar is a useful friend to have. Simple, sleek, effective.
This one is also pretty clever. Have you ever been on a website where you’re trying to read the content but it just keeps hitting you with distracting adverts at the side? Or maybe the site isn’t particularly responsive and it’s hard to read? This is where MercuryReader comes in. This extension dives into your screen and reformats the written section and its related images to make it easier on the eyes. An effective way to read more!
Google Reader may not be a thing anymore, but that doesn’t mean the humble RSS feed is dead. Feedly are the biggest RSS provider on the market and claim to have over 15 million users. Their product is pretty simple to operate as is, but if you want that even-more-convenient experience try using the extension. This will let you really easily add web pages to your feed and make it easier to manage.
These handy browser tools will make your day easier
Nimbus is a screenshotting and recording tool which slots in nicely on your extensions bar. Simply click the icon and select what kind of screenshot you want to take. Once you’ve grabbed the page or area of a page you want to capture, Nimbus pops up a little editing screen where you can play around with your image before saving it to your computer. Highly recommend.
How One Man Stopped Seeing Ads With This One Simple Trick. Advertisers Hate Him! I’m a long time user of AdBlock and I’m happy with the services I have received. One thing I’ve come to appreciate more of late is the exclude functionalities. I normally have Adblock running constantly and it just pauses itself when I visit websites I want to support. Handy tool.
The Hola – Better Internet VPN is good for a number of reasons. It is unlimited and free, unlike its competitor TunnelBear. It generally works very well, though Netflix figured them out about a year ago so you won’t be able to go country hopping through the different libraries. The one word of caution – Hola VPN channels traffic through different channels and one of those channels may be your internet connection. Just be aware.
If you haven’t streamed a soccer match through AceStream in UltraHD 4k with powerful Russian commentary, then you haven’t lived. AcePlayer is a very useful media player with its specialty being the ability to also stream in HD very easily. They offer a Chrome extension to make the entire process much easier. Do not stream copyrighted material, though. That would be wrong.
Check My Links
This is a pretty single purpose tool, but it’s very good at what it does. It pretty much just finds every link on whichever webpage you are on and then clicks them all. It doesn’t open them in front of you. It checks to see whether each of those links work and to make sure they’re not dead. It only takes a moment and it finishes off by providing you with a little summary. Good bot.
If you want to have both security and ease of browsing as priorities, then 1Password is a no-brainer. With this password manager, you can save all of your passwords securely in the cloud so you only need to remember … wait for it … 1 password for everything. It also gives you the opportunity to use password generators which make hard to crack nonsense passwords. Highly recommend.
Improve your language skills with these helpers
The don of the language game, Grammarly is a pretty powerful piece of kit. It provides you with a spell check system which operates across all windows and text boxes. But it’s not just for spelling like the traditional red squiggly line. Grammarly will correct you on your grammar too. And at the end of each week, Grammarly sends you a nice report outlining your writing stats. The free platform is great and the paid should be considered!
If you’re ever having to deal with languages you don’t understand, Translate becomes an incredibly useful tool. For a long time, Google Translate received criticism for comical mistranslations or overly literal interpretations of language. In recent years though, Translate has become increasingly powerful and has begun to provide increasingly accurate services. A must have for the international worker.
Google Input Tools
To bounce off the back of Translate, Google Input Tools are really handy for anyone who needs to write in another language. You can set on screen keyboards to show different alphabets or special letters. Simple accents on letters can be done with keyboard shortcuts, but Input Tools provide you with every character available. Olé.
Orwell App Writing Improvement
We’ve published a lot of work about writing and about what makes good writing – particularly from the perspective of marketing and holding people’s attention. One of the tools we often recommend is the Hemingway Editor app. There isn’t a Chrome extension for the American author, but there is for an English author with a similar set of principles. George Orwell was a firm believer in being concise and clear in writing. This extension allows you to paste in your work for its algorithm to check and critique. Very useful for writers.
A good app with lots of big words. Tremendous in its exquisite variety of terminology; allowing you to vastly improve your lexical diversity. Use with caution.
If you’re going to use a dictionary, you may as well do it properly. Merriam-Webster are the authority on the use and meaning of American English. It doesn’t need more explanation. You can also get Oxford Dictionary Search by Progmonster for those more partial to British English
Turn your browser into your development hub
Live CSS Editor
When you’re building a website and something doesn’t look quite right, it’s useful to have tools available to quickly edit things live in your browser to test and play. The Live CSS Editor allows you to fiddle and tinker live and then save that code back in. Simple and intuitive.
ZenHub for GitHub
ZenHub provides a set of project management tools which you can use to help you manage your GitHub account. It provides a really easy to navigate overview of your work while allowing collaboration across teams and on other projects. Worth checking out!
This one is handy for front end developers. What Image Tool provides is the ability to inspect images and work out their different dimensions to help you correctly proportion them within your HTML. Particularly useful when building a website based on a set of designs.
If you like to work in a visual manner, CSS-Shack can help you create beautiful designs and then save them as CSS files. You can use their environment to create the designs – working without code – and they’ll then write the code for you. Super useful for beginners, and potentially a timesaver for even seasoned pros.
We’re all really proud of the coding you’ve done. I promise. However, when you’re presenting code it can look a bit boring framed as simply strings of text, whether in a presentation or a blog article. Marmoset exists to make your code look sexy to people who don’t understand it. You simply add in a snippet of code and Marmoset turns it into an image which you can easily manipulate to look cool. A great way to impress clients.
Super simple tool. Turn WhatFont on and hover over the text on a website. WhatFont will tell you – surprise, surprise – what font the text is in. A nice little timesaver.
Similar to WhatFont, ColorZilla lets you interpret the elements on a page from a practical perspective. If you click on the extension, it will give you the option to Pick Color From Page. Then you click on whatever color you like and voila – you have the code for that shade. It can also do trickier bits with gradients.
This isn’t a particularly showy tool. The JSON Formatter simply takes a JSON and displays it differently within your browser so that it’s easier to read and interpret. It becomes collapsible and gives you active URLs to follow.
Every time you visit a website nowadays it seems you’re bombarded with messages about cookies. This extension provides a simple cookie manager to show you all the different cookies stored in your browser. It also allows you to bake new ones. I assume the name Cookie Monster was trademarked…
If you’re looking for an open source text and code editor which you can operate within your browser, then Caret is an excellent choice. It has a wealth of features and provides many of the benefits of a native development environment. This one is a particularly good choice for those of you who still want to code when you’re on your Chromebook.
Make your productivity soar with these useful add-ons
One of the biggest productivity killers out there is social media. Not just social media, but largely. There are certain websites where you waste a lot of time. Maybe you allocated yourself 5 minutes on Facebook during a break, but you’re now 20 minutes deep into photos from Terry’s holiday to Greece in 2014. Kefalonia is delightful this time of year. Snap out of it! If you can’t discipline yourself, let StayFocusd do it for you. You can choose certain websites and allocate a maximum amount of time you’re allowed on them. After that limit they become inaccessible. Even better, if you want to disable the extension, it forces you to complete weird annoying tasks to do so. Tough love.
This is pretty much a shortcut tool you can integrate into your browser. You can create a load of saved shortcuts and as you begin typing them the extension will suggest the rest. The benefits are obvious.
Save to Pocket
Writers like myself have to spend a lot of time reading. I regularly find that during my researching process I will discover a whole host of articles I want to read. Sadly, I rarely have time to read them at that moment in time. Save to Pocket is a handy tool because it allows you to bookmark each article. The difference is it doesn’t just save them in your browser like a normal bookmark. Pocket saves them in the cloud on your Pocket account. If you have the Pocket app downloaded on your phone then you can read those saved articles anywhere.
When I said I was writing this article, seemingly my whole team had Momentum as their first suggestion. It doesn’t sound like a revolutionary tool on the surface, but it provides a small change in your working patterns which can make a big impact. Momentum changes what happens when you open a new tab. Instead of a blank page staring back at you, Momentum provides a nice image, maybe a motivational quote or welcome, and even a list of your to-dos and daily goals. You can customize it to fit your needs.
Sortd for Gmail
Different people like their email clients differently. Sortd is one of those different options. Sortd takes your Gmail account and lays it out in a Trello-esque fashion with columns. On the left-hand side is your inbox, in the middle are your tasks, and on the right, you’ll find your important emails. A potentially very useful tool for someone whose work lives out of their email account.
Kind of a competitor to Momentum, Be Limitless is another new tab customizer tool. Yet, Be Limitless has its own USP: monitoring. While you’re browsing, the extension will gather data on how you’re spending your time. It will then show you how long you’ve spent on different websites. This ability to track one’s own behavior could provide a foundation from which to change that behavior…
This extension is very similar to StayFocusd except that it is tied to the Pomodoro technique. If you don’t know, the Pomodoro technique is a productivity enhancing methodology founded on the idea that we struggle to focus for more than half an hour. When following this method, you take 25 of working intensely and follow it with 5 minutes of break. You repeat until lunch. Then start again. Strict Workflow forces you to stick to this. It blocks access to sites which you might enjoy for 25 minutes and then lets you back on them for 5. Don’t worry, you can customize this list. At the very least, it will force you to procrastinate more creatively…
Yet another Pomodoro school application. Pomello ties your Trello account to a Pomodoro timer. Through doing this, you can remain on track by tying your individual tasks to predetermined timeslots. Using Strict Workflow and Pomello together would make for one very productive worker! In my experience, the Pomodoro technique works great for roles like sales and coding, but not so much for writers. Find what suits you.
What it says on the tin, basically. This extension works with all the popular search engines and shows you previews of the websites contained in your search results. This can help you skim off time spent googling and researching. It also offers related searches and other add-on features.
I’ve recommended the productivity app Focus@will on multiple occasions when writing about productivity. However, not everyone works best with music playing – which is what Focus@will offers. Some people prefer more of a white noise. If I really need to be productive then I find complete silence to be a little too oppressive and music to be a little too engaging. I’m a fan of sitting in my office with the window open – the gentle buzz of distant activity and the foreground of chirping birds. That’s my “white noise” of choice. With Noisli you can find your white noise. You can choose to listen to rain sounds as you work, for instance. Not for everyone – but it’s surprisingly cool.
For the more biblically minded, the word Lazarus may bring associations of rebirth, revival, and zombies. The Chrome extension which shares the name also shares these themes. You know when you’re filling in a form online and either you submit the form or the page crashes or something just generally goes wrong? Normally, you lose that data. Lazarus saves that data as you input it so that you can bring it back from the dead if needed. Crucial for anyone who has to fill in long-winded forms on a regular basis.
Evernote Web Clipper
I hope we all already know Evernote. This is the notetaking tool with a range of collaborative features. You can save links to Evernote or take meeting notes and easily distribute them across a team. From notes to todo lists, Evernote is a great tool to keep yourself in order.
Google’s answer to Evernote, Google Keep, is another handy notetaking app. It has a very clean UI and is certainly user-friendly. Because it is tied to your Google account, it’s a nice way to have different notetaking setups for work and for life. Whether you prefer Evernote or Keep probably comes down to personal preferences and what tool other members of your team are using.
As far as to-do lists go, Todoist is one of the more popular. But it’s more than that. With its collaborative elements, Todoist more closely resembles a simple project or task management tool than the little scribbles in your notebook. With the extension, you can always have your to-do list one click away.
Manage your social media with ease
If you’re involved in content marketing then BuzzSumo is a tool you should check out. Buzzsumo’s Chrome extension allows you to see instantly how many shares or backlinks a particular piece of content has. Don’t tell anyone, but this could be really useful for checking out your competitors…
Save to Facebook
We’ve already mentioned Pocket, but this new feature of Facebook’s appears to be trying to corner their market. Facebook has an internal bookmarking system and this extension allows you to save things you find on the web to that set of bookmarks within Facebook. For me, it isn’t an either/or between Facebook and Pocket. You can use the Facebook extension to save things which interest you generally, and the Pocket extension to keep things work related. You don’t need any more excuses to open up Facebook during work hours!
RiteTag is a really cool piece of kit. It’s like a set of SEO tools but for social media – specifically, #hashtags. RitTag will let you know whether a hashtag you’ve chosen is likely to help your content be seen right now or over time or not at all. In which case, choose a different hashtag. Recommend.
The Buffer extension lets you line up Tweets or Facebook posts in advance. It also works across Pinterest, Linkedin, and Instagram. See the content you want to post? Click on the extension and schedule the post. Simple as that. Very popular tool. Check out the video!
Very similar to Buffer, Agorapulse lets you schedule social media content across different channels. However, Agorapulse leverages its deep reporting capabilities to help you drive marketing campaigns like contests or promotions. Worth checking out for agencies and businesses.
If you’re a Pinterest user, you’re probably always on the look out for images across the web which you can pin to your boards. The Pinterest extension does this in a really user-friendly way. Whenever there is content on a web page which is pinnable, a little Pinterest button shows up over it. Click and save. Job done.
One of the unsung heroes of the century has been the lowly loveable gif. We all like moving images, but we don’t always like sound. Gifs are particularly useful in social media content. The problem is that you don’t always have the right one to hand. The Giphy extension puts their whole community of gifs at your fingertips.
Install the right extensions for you!
I can’t tell you which of the above will most benefit your workflow, but I recommend trying as many of these out as you can.
If you can eek out a further hour of productivity out per day then you’ll feel the benefits immediately.
Don’t just work harder, work smarter.
What are your favorite Chrome extensions? Let us know in the comments and we might follow up with you for more!