Google Chrome is the world's most popular web browser. Despite the annoyances related to hogging system resources, it's a very capable platform. And one of its strong points is the abundant extensions ecosystem. There are thousands of Chrome extensions. If you can imagine it, chances are there's an extension for it.
There are literally thousands upon thousands of extensions.
There's another rub: You can install so many extensions that you can bring the browser to a creaking halt under the weight of the system resources that the extensions themselves consume. So, I set myself a challenge -- a shortlist of the seven best Chrome extensions. Extensions that are really useful, well-supported, and do a good job.
Here's the list I came up with -- all these extensions are free and work on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Create and manage passwords
LastPass is a Chrome extension that securely stores and tracks information like usernames and passwords to make it faster and easier to log into your accounts. It scans your current passwords and offers analysis for strengths and weaknesses, offering to generate strong passwords for new and current accounts. It also offers two factor authentication for further protection against unauthorized access.
Keep tabs on your tabs
OneTab lets you curate a list of tabs in a single web browser window, which is great for writers and students alike who need to keep track of dozens of tabs for research. By creating a list of tabbed sites, OneTab claims to save up to 95 percent of Chrome memory, letting you browse faster. You can even share your tab list with others via a dedicated button, so if you're working on a collaborative project, everyone can see what research you've done and give input.
Adblock Plus - free ad blocker
One of the most trusted extensions
The granddaddy of ad-blockers! Downloaded over 500 million times, it is without a doubt one of the most trusted extensions out there. And Adblock Plus is packed with features:
- Block annoying video ads and banners
- Block pop-ups
- Stop tracking and give yourself more privacy
- Fight off destructive malvertising that can hide in ads
- Give yourself faster browsing (as resources are blocked from loading)
- Customize features, like whitelisting for favorite sites
- Get free and constant support
- Give yourself simply more control of the experience you want
Evernote Web Clipper
Quickly save snippets of information
Most of the time I'm keeping tabs open because there's some snippet of information in them that I need. Evernote Web Clipper allows me to grab that information, save it somewhere far more sensible than an open tab, and allows me easy access to it when I need it.
Awesome Screenshot and Screen Recorder
Record your desktop or tab
A screen capture tool built directly into Chrome. A fantastic tool for people who want to capture the contents of web pages without the hassle of using a separate utility. You can also record the desktop, a tab, or the stream from a cam. And you can then go on to add narration over the top. A nice, very useful extension.
Quick access to different timezones
If you roll in different timezones, then having clocks in the browser's status bar will help keep you on track.
Alternatively, just click on the FoxClocks icon next to your address bar for quick access to your clocks, without leaving the current web page.
As an added bonus, FoxClocks deals with daylight saving time so you don't have to!
Can extensions affect browser performance?
Yes. The more extension you have installed, the more overhead you are adding to your Chrome browser. Chrome is already a bit of a resource hog, and depending on your computer, extensions can make this worse.
Can you easily uninstall Google Chrome extensions?
Yes. Type chrome://extensions/ into the address bar, hit Enter and you will get a list of your extensions. Click the toggle to enable/disable the extension, or click Remove to completely uninstall the extension.
Do extensions work when you are in Incognito Mode?
No, but you can enable that feature for an extension. Type chrome://extensions/ into the address bar and hit Enter. Find the extension you want to enable in Incognito Mode and click Details. On the next page, flip the Allow in incognito toggle.
Note the warning that Google has about doing this:
Warning: Google Chrome cannot prevent extensions from recording your browsing history. To disable this extension in incognito mode, unselect this option.
How do you update Google Chrome extensions?
Extensions update automatically, but you can do a manual update if you want. Type chrome://extensions/ into the address bar and hit Enter. On the next screen click the Update button at the top of the screen. Alternatively, to update a single extension, click on Details for that extension and then click Update.
Can Google Chrome extensions be malicious?
Are there other free Chrome extensions worth checking out?
Here are a few others to consider:
Speedtest by Ookla | Test upload and download speeds
You may be familiar with the webpage for Ookla's internet speed test, and now you can add a Chrome extension for faster and easier testing. The extension adds a button to your Chrome toolbar for one-click ping, upload, and download speed testing. You can also test to see how fast individual sites load, which is a great tool for web developers wanting to test new layouts or page elements.
Bitly | Shorten links for social media
Bitly is a Chrome extension that is perfect for social media marketing and content creators. It creates custom, shortened links for websites, YouTube channels, and even Instagram posts, saving on character limits so you can write better calls to action to drive engagement and traffic. It's also great for anyone who wants to share links in messenger apps without having to copy and paste a wall of text.
Momentum | Personalize your new tabs
Momentum may not exactly boost your productivity like other extensions on this list, but it turns boring, blank new tabs into personalized motivational slides. Each new tab will show a motivational quote and inspirational photo along with any to-do lists and website shortcuts you have. You can also set up friendly reminders to help you answer emails and attend meetings or get at-a-glance weather updates.
Deadname Remover | Ease into social transitioning
This extension is designed for anyone who is going through a social transition and wants to try out a new name. The plugin automatically replaces your old name with your new one in emails, web pages, and browser-based programs so you can test out a name without too much commitment. A word of warning though: If you aren't ready to let other people know you're trying out a new name or socially transitioning, this extension will let others see your new name in email chains and certain browser-based programs like Roll20.