20 essential, time-saving Chrome extensions

20 essential, time-saving Chrome extensions

Summary: For ZDNet's David Gewirtz, the key to successfully moving from Firefox to Chrome was identifying and installing Chrome extensions that duplicated or improved upon functionality. Here are 20 essential, time-saving Chrome extensions that made that move go smoothly.

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TOPICS: Google
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  • Readability

    Ah, Readability, you little trouble-maker. Readability excels in separating Web content from its surrounding wrapper -- you know the ads and promotional material that pays for all this enjoyment.

    As someone who makes at least part of my living from all those ads and wrapper ephemera, I'm conflicted about Readability. Readability, as I use it, makes reading articles on my big screen from my couch much easier. As I've gotten a little older, I find that the smaller text in articles is harder to read from 10 feet away. I use Readability to provide light text on a dark background at a larger font size, making it easier to read through articles on most mornings.

    I don't think that Readability removes the ability of a Web site to support itself, because you have to browse the page initially, you'll see ads initially. But it is a gray area, and something we as an industry will continue to wrestle with into the future.

    My practice is to find an article, read it in Readability, jump back to the original format of the article, and share that format with my Twitter followers. That way, even though I'm not reading the whole thing in smaller print, I am able to share the original work with followers.

    How often used: Almost every morning.

    Live without it factor: I could live without it, but I'd prefer not too. You can also use Readability to aggregate articles for later reading, or send to Kindle devices. I don't do this very often.

  • Search the current site

    Some Chrome extensions do little you couldn't otherwise do, but they save a little time. Search the current site is like that. All it does is present a little box where you can type in your search query, then send that search query to google with "site:thesiteyouron.com" prepended to the query (where, of course, thesiteyouron.com is actually the site you're on).

    It's not like you couldn't do that yourself, but it's a quick timesaver, especially if you don't really want to extract the domain name from the omnibox prior to doing a search.

    How often used: A few times a week.

    Live without it factor: I could certainly live without it, but it's helpful to have around to save a few clicks, cuts, and pastes.

     

  • Sexy Undo Close Tab

    Sexy Undo Close Tab is a great little extension. It keeps track of tabs you've closed, a lot of tabs you've closed. Right now, it's tracking the most recent 276 tabs I've closed on my browser.

    The tool has a lot of options, including one you're probably going to want to turn off. Sexy Undo Close Tab is ad supported, which is fine. As I've mentioned, I make part of my living being supported by ads, so I certainly support the practice. The only problem is that Sexy Undo Close Tab sticks ads in the most unlikely of spots, like dialog boxes in the middle of QuickBooks, and in the corporate CMS.

    As much as I like the tool, and would like to see the author supported, I'm going to have to recommend you go to the options and check "I don't want to support you or this extension".

    To the author of the extension, I'm going to request you find a better way to present ads. Maybe check the size of the window before you show an ad, or not show ads on https pages. I'd like to support you, and your software works quite well -- except your ad system breaks other stuff I need to use. Not sexy. Not sexy at all.

    How often used: A few times a week.

    Live without it factor: I could live without it, and if I couldn't stop it from breaking some of the Web apps I used, I would have stopped using it. Kudos to the author for allowing that option to be turned off, even though he'd give my grandmother's guilting skills a run for the money.

Topic: Google

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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19 comments
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  • My favorites

    Lastpass - excellent password and secure notes manager
    IE tab - to visit the very few sites (including Sharepoint sites) which work better in IE, or to check whether they do. Also to print pages, as IE features scaled printing, which Chrome doesn't.
    Bookmarks - to quickly open my bookmarks without remembering the hotkey
    Smooth gestures - to close a page or go back using a mouse gesture
    Google Quick Scroll - to jump to the relevant bits of a google search result
    RSS subscription extension - to subscribe to RSS feeds
    pj.de.bruin
    • LastPass

      Yep, LastPass is a must.

      I also use NoScript on Firefox, I've tried NoScripts on Chrome, it isn't as good, but it is getting there. When it matures, I might well switch to Chrome.

      Flashblock is another must, for me.
      wright_is
      • Agree on NoScript

        Every few months I revisit Chrome looking to see if this has been ported or if similar functionality exists in other plugins (e.g., ScriptNo, NotScripts.)

        ScriptNo looks like it has some improved functionality - I'll give it a spin.
        CyberZombie
  • Great list! Was unaware of one

    Was unaware of 'Email this Page,' something I do every day. Thanks!
    zaine_ridling
  • FVD does work

    I'm not sure why you say FVD (Freemake Video Downloader) doesn't work in Chrome, it does. I disabled one-click download, but I re-enabled just to check this out. It does launch the actual program, which then does the download for you, but I'm not sure just how easy you want it to be. You can click the button at the corner of the browser window, or it shows a button right on the YouTube page. If the video is part of a series, it will even download all the videos. Personally, I like being able to configure the download before clicking OK, but it's all pretty painless.
    big red one
  • RECOMMENDED CHROME EXTENSION

    David, I know you're busy, but it appears either your own personal editor or spellcheck would certainly serve you well.
    :)
    darciea
  • Favorites for Chrome OS

    I always find these lists interesting, but I've never had so little overlap before. The following list was created with Share Extensions for Google Chrome™

    - ChromeAccess v1.6: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/aeoigbhkilbllfomkmmilbfochhlgdmh

    - Lazy Amazon Search v1.1: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ajhagnljgceddhfoakpjkdcoobijohhi

    - Adblock Plus v1.3.4: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/cfhdojbkjhnklbpkdaibdccddilifddb

    - Share Extensions v0.0.9: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/chdafcbnfkfenoeejpaeenpdamhmalhe

    - Search by Image (by Google) v1.3.2: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/dajedkncpodkggklbegccjpmnglmnflm

    - Gmelius - Ad Blocker and Better UI for Gmail™ v5.7.1: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/dheionainndbbpoacpnopgmnihkcmnkl

    - utf-8 v1.2.1: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/fcemphgmjnjpmmdhcedhjiegickfbiia

    - Chrome Office Viewer v2.5.86: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gbkeegbaiigmenfmjfclcdgdpimamgkj

    - CrOS Save v1.0.6: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/geojifjnplelmefbggiioamokdomjenf

    - Google Calendar (by Google) v1.3.1: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gmbgaklkmjakoegficnlkhebmhkjfich

    - Save to Google Drive v1.5.9: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gmbmikajjgmnabiglmofipeabaddhgne

    - FlashBlock v0.9.31: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gofhjkjmkpinhpoiabjplobcaignabnl

    - Keep My Opt-Outs v1.0.14: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hhnjdplhmcnkiecampfdgfjilccfpfoe

    - Forecastfox v2.0.10: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ihffmkcfkejomlfnilnmkokcpgclhfeg

    - Calc SS3 v0.9.98: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/iicfbobganffbpdodmdcbcpblomkbeoa

    - Panelize v0.3: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/illfnfpoggnlapniilhkplbofldeimie

    - Starbucks automatic joiner v0.0.2: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/jjnnlhigonelimfaoglccopcgdghfdbg

    - Anesidora v1.6.8.1: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/jkamjlgjpfpidokpnnljcmkjjpgnbaga

    - Picasa Extension (by Google) v0.1: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/lhhlohbbihddnfcehbijmlnpkafmmkfp

    - Smooth Scrollerator v1.1.5: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/lmicgfcegednlkdhgbhgickcgndjeeig

    - Pocket (formerly Read It Later) v1.1.5: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/niloccemoadcdkdjlinkgdfekeahmflj

    - Docs PDF/PowerPoint Viewer (by Google) v3.10: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nnbmlagghjjcbdhgmkedmbmedengocbn

    - The Tracktor - Amazon Price Tracker v3.1.2: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/onajjgekdldckfgodnmoallcmdmfcfom
    S_Deemer
  • thoughts

    "20 essential, time-saving Chrome extensions"

    Sounds like quite a bit. And many of them put their buttons on the bar. Quite a bit of clutter for what's supposedly a minimalist browser, if you ask me.

    "Chat for Google is a very neat tool that allows me to stay in Google Chat, even when I don't have Gmail open."

    I use Trillian, which supports Google Chat and even Facebook chat (no need to keep Facebook open either). Not really a big fan of cluttering up extensions when a third party app does the job.

    A lot of the text-copying extensions seem blogger specific. I do see that some bloggers tend to worship these tools as if every industry in the world could use them, but truth be known, they're really specific to the blogger niche.

    Of course in your case you're just showing off the tools you use, so not all of them will be must haves for everybody (especially the web development stuff).
    CobraA1
  • Font Renedering?

    Is there an extension to fix poor font rendering in Chrome?
    hiccupfart
    • what issues?

      Never had a problem with font rendering with Chrome
      mytake4this
  • Chrome Extentions

    Enjoyed the read, but see that most are skewed toward writer or bloggers. There are at least 15 I would have no use for at all.

    Here are my most used:

    Clearly (probably similar to Readability)
    Social Fixer (for Facebook)
    Netflix Rating Enhancer (I like to see the rotten tomato ranking)
    ZDNet Blogs Reader (saves me a lot of time)

    Like to see others list their favorite (and what they are for)
    kitkimes419
  • Thanks for Sharing

    I'm also a new convert to Chrome, thanks for sharing the list & the others who have also. Really helpful.
    Medfordhouse
  • how to read?

    Can I download or print this list? I simply refuse to keep clicking to get the full story. It is so time consuming for some of us (me) in rural areas with poor internet. How about what is called a list? Like the one used by one of your repliers. His list made more sense to me than the article since the article was broken into pieces by the way it displays on the internet. It would really be helpful. Thanks!
    Wirelessdude
    • Here ya go!

      Well, courtesy of @S_Deemer and Share Extensions (which I didn't know about), here you go:

      Extensions: 20
      - Sexy Undo Close Tab v7.2.7: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/bcennaiejdjpomgmmohhpgnjlmpcjmbg
      - Share Extensions v0.0.9: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/chdafcbnfkfenoeejpaeenpdamhmalhe
      - PHP Ninja Manual v1.1.5: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/clbhjjdhmgeibgdccjfoliooccomjcab
      - Email this page (by Google) v1.2.5: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/dbeoemfhkdniadbojeencpkgmobndpai
      - Pendule v1.0.0: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gbkffbkamcejhkcaocmkdeiiccpmjfdi
      - CSSViewer v1.3: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ggfgijbpiheegefliciemofobhmofgce
      - Google Calendar (by Google) v1.3.1: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gmbgaklkmjakoegficnlkhebmhkjfich
      - PageRank Status v6.8.0: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hbdkkfheckcdppiaiabobmennhijkknn
      - Copy Title+URL to clipboard v1.3.3: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hbnaclhngkhpmpgmfakaghgjbblokeeh
      - Universal Search & IE8 Accelerators v1.1: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hmcgifbelcmjecmkapejifljephjabjd
      - Windows Media Player Extension for HTML5 v1.0: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hokdglbhghcebcopdbanieangmcamaak
      - Google +1 Button v1.1.2.424: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/jgoepmocgafhnchmokaimcmlojpnlkhp
      - Search the current site v4: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/jliolpcnkmolaaecncdfeofombdekjcp
      - FVD Video Downloader v1.4.7: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/lfmhcpmkbdkbgbmkjoiopeeegenkdikp
      - Copy Link Text v0.5.1: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/lhdokmjpoambonhlpgcodobebebjdeil
      - Copy Link Name v1.0.4: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/mafjnaphoepgijmgfeemillelgkeigid
      - Chat for Google v1.2013.110.2: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nckgahadagoaajjgafhacjanaoiihapd
      - Buffer v2.3.9: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/noojglkidnpfjbincgijbaiedldjfbhh
      - Readability v1.13: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/oknpjjbmpnndlpmnhmekjpocelpnlfdi
      - Evernote Web Clipper v5.9.5: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/pioclpoplcdbaefihamjohnefbikjilc
      David Gewirtz
    • I agree - COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS

      ZDNET MUST give us an option to download a complete article. I would be interested, since I am having trouble with Firefox locking up on Win8 (though may have fixed today with Firewall change), and was interested in looking at Chrome as an option. But no way will I toggle through and cut and paste 21 screens to get this info. What a waste of time and space. I have however copied your list David in case I need it in future. Thanks for that.
      jonc2011
  • Adblock Plus

    Adblock Plus is the first add on I use with Firefox or Chrome.
    mytake4this
  • Slideshow to 1 Page

    Is there a Chrome extension that could convert a 20 page slideshow into a one-page article?
    techfired
  • Its funny! Firefox is the way to go!

    Its funny how people moved to Google Chrome even before realising potential and benefits of Firefox.
    "Google" name did it, I think. Go to it and loose freedom.
    jwalant.soneji
  • Emoticons for Facebook

    Add a tiny emoticons keyboard while typing an comment on facebook..........
    http://emoticons.siteforums.net/
    Garry Lachman