While we’re on a roll with the whole Google Chrome thing, today we’re going to share our all time favourite extensions to make your Chrome run faster, easier and more effectively. There are hundreds of apps available in the Google Web Store and it can be hard to weed out the winners from the vast sea of plugins. We did the hard work for you and are sharing the tried and true extensions we use everyday at Data Nerds HQ. We wold love to hear your favourite extensions as well so let us know what they are in the comments below! We could probably squeeze one or two more into our bar before it gets overloaded. 😉
Speed Things Up
1. One Tab
If you read our previous post on Google Chrome Hacks, you’ll immediately understand why this is first on our list of essential extensions.
For those of you that don’t know, I have about 40 tabs open at any given time (in each open window – I might add) and it wreaks havoc on my overall productivity. Even though I get to work on a top-of-the-line Mac computer, my excessive use of tabs in Google Chrome slows it to a crawl. Thankfully, I’ve found (part of) the solution in this handy-dandy extension.
One Tab does just what the name suggests, it compresses all your open tabs into one. Why is this a big deal? Well, every time you open a new tab in your browser you’re using more of your computers memory to run it. Therefore, when you have 100 tabs open at a time, you’re sucking up a big chunk of memory just to run those pages you aren’t even actively using. One Tab condenses them into one tab and reduces your memory by up to 95%! That means a faster computer, more productivity and more blog posts ;).
Ever go to a news site or blog to read about something really interesting only to be faced with a 5000 word essay? Who has time to read all that, especially if you’re doing research from multiple sites or are just trying to understand the basics of something. Skimzee makes this possible by “skimming” the blog post or article for what it thinks is the most useful information.
After you’ve installed the extension from the Chrome Web Store, all you need to do to start summarizing is click the Skimzee button. It will take you to a page (see below) where it sums up what the article is about, gives you further suggested reading and allows you to customize how much or how little information is in your summary. For example, here’s a Skimzee of our Google Chrome Hacks blog post:
The first white box is a summary of the article and the smaller boxes are summaries of some of the comments, tags and author information. You can also adjust the scale at the top to summarize the article even further, here’s an example:
To be honest, I’m not sure how it picks information and it works better for some articles than for others. But it’s still definitely a useful extension to have on your chrome bar!
3. One Password
This is the only extension on our list that isn’t free, but once you hear what it can do – you won’t care what the price is!
You know all those different passwords you have for shopping sites, social media logins and email servers that you can never remember? OnePassword remembers them for you. While most of us just use the same password (or some variation of it) for every site on the net, we know that this isn’t the safest way to do things. OnePassword makes it simple to have a super complex, uncrackable password for each site without you having to remember it (or write it down only to lose it).
All you need to remember is your master password to unlock all your passwords. Now before you start thinking about it getting hacked and all your passwords being stolen, it’s a very unlikely scenario. Since OnePassword is software downloaded onto your computer and not a web-based it’s super secure. It also uses authenticated encryption and key derivation to keep things extra tight.
And can I just say, it’s so nice to not have to remember a password every time I go to a different website! All you do is click on the drop down menu that opens after unlocking OnePassword and you’re in.
Here’s another little genius that’s going to save your butt if you love having tabs open. The Great Suspender is a chrome add-on that lets you “suspend” web pages while you’re not using them. This saves your computer a whole whack of memory and helps it to run more efficiently.
To use it, all you have to do is go to the web page you wish to suspend, click the little robot-looking guy in your extensions list and your page will be suspended. To bring it back, simply click on the page to reload it. With all these extensions saving you memory, you’re going to be working at lightspeed in no time!
5. AdBlocker Plus or uBlock
If you use the internet, I’m sure you’ve heard of some of the top Ad Blockers on the market. There are quite a few varieties of ad blocking software out there but AdBlocker Plus and uBlock are a few of our favourites.
While there isn’t much difference between the two, and both will save you from a million pop-up ads and in page ads per day, uBlock will save you substantially more memory than AdBlocker Plus. As you know by now, this keeps your computer free to run other programs and keeps things moving quickly. Also, AdBlocker Plus no longer blocks YouTube ads, where uBlock does (that’s what makes it my choice!).
6. Panic Button
Ever hear your boss/spouse/children coming when you’re doing something on the computer you don’t want them to see? Whether it be questionable business or something as innocent as buying them a gift want to keep secret, Panic Button will hide your ass*. Here’s how it works:
Simple right? One click of the button and all your tabs are gone leaving you with a blank screen, which is in no way suspicious. Everyone needs one of these at least once in a while.
*Hide Your Ass is the name of the company that makes Panic Button, it just happens to do the same thing it’s name states.
You would think, as someone who basically writes for a living, I wouldn’t need an additional spell checker on my computer. Well, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I do. Grammarly is a chrome extension that will underline mistakes and makes suggestions throughout your online writing. While Mac’s have a feature like this built in to their system, PC users will find this specifically handy.
Even though I work solely on Mac’s, I still find this extension useful and a lot more user-friendly than the system version. Hovering over an underlined word creates a popup box of options. You can also add words that you use on a regular basis that aren’t necessarily considered real words. Like Grammarly. Which they have conveniently built in for you.
8. Social Fixer
Social Fixer is running a close second behind One Tab in the race for my favourite extension (actually, they are all great and I have all of them installed on my own computer!). Social Fixer makes your Facebook back into your Facebook! Before they started filtering what you saw, throwing in a bunch of ads and completely ridiculous click-bait news stories.
After installing this extension, I actually got to see what my friends and family were up to! The best part about this is it’s super customizable, so if you like having a couple of those crazy news stories breaking up your feed you can. It takes a while to tweak it the way you want, but it’s well worth it in the end!
9. Checker Plus
This extension falls more into the essentials category and less into the “just for fun” category. If you’re a Gmail user, listen up because this is about to change your life!
Checker Plus is a Gmail extension for Google Chrome that allows you to check your Gmail without going to the web page. It also sends you notifications, gives you the choice to archive or delete the message straight from the pop-up and even lets you set up multiple email addresses in one app. I’ve actually stopped using my Mail app and switched over to this completely.
It has a ton of customizable features so you can be bugged as much or as little as you want and each pop-up has a convenient “Remind me in 5 Minutes” button for if you’re really busy. This is by far the simplest way I’ve dealt with my inbox and I highly recommend trying out this free extension.
If you’re an avid online shopper, Honey is the extension you’re going to use most! What Honey does is search the web to find you better prices, discount codes or cash back on all your online purchases. It’s a little like Ebates but with less real cash and more discount codes.
Whenever you go to a shopping site, Honey will automatically scan for any discount codes and alert you to them using the extension bar. It also lets you know if there is HoneyGold to be earned on the site you are shopping from. HoneyGold is a reward points program that adds up to free Amazon gift cards. For every 1000 points you earn, you will be rewarded with a $10 Amazon GC – just for using Honey.
As an Android user, I get jealous of (and teased by) just about everyone in the office who is on team iPhone. One of the few disappointments I have with Androids is that you can’t get your SMS messages on your computer like you can with iMessage. Well, Mighty Text has changed all that and made desktop texting accessible to everyone!
MightyText puts a little icon in your extensions bar to let you know when you get any SMS messages, calendar alerts, phone calls or pictures and videos. On top of being able to send messages without getting your phone out of your pocket, you can also use this as a handy phone-to-computer transfer device or even get your app notifications on your computer as well. It’s free but there is also a pro version that gives you a few more options, features and storage space.