10 Must-Have Extensions for Google Chrome
By Rick Broida
Updated September 15, 2017
Google's Chrome Web browser has earned legions of fans. Not just because of its speedy operation and seamless bookmark syncing, but also because it's expandable. By installing various add-ons (also known as extensions), you can make Chrome smarter, safer, more versatile, and more fun. Best of all, most extensions are easy to use and free to install. Here's a look at 10 seriously cool ways to customize Chrome.
Evernote Web Clipper
Evernote is a great tool for organizing and managing information, and the Evernote Web Clipper for Chrome makes it even better. While the old version merely sucked up the entire page you were viewing, now you have options for what to "clip" to your Evernote account: The full page, just the body, a screenshot, and so on. You can even mark up the clipped page using arrows, stamps, a virtual highlighter, and text notes.
Web forms are great for writing blog posts or adding comments to an online forum, right up until a browser crash or Internet disconnect erases all your unsaved hard work. Lazarus 3 (formerly Lazarus Form Recovery) retains all the text you type into Web fields, thus making it easy to restore your work. It's like a real-time backup tool for your browser, one no Web user should be without.
Related: Lazarus 3
Tabbed browsing is one of the all-time great browser features, but too many open tabs can clutter up the interface and seriously slow things down. A single click of OneTab condenses all your open tabs into one, effectively killing the clutter and giving your browser a speed boost. Within that new tab you'll find all your other tabs in a convenient list; you can click any one reopen it, or click Restore All to get them all back.
Print Friendly & PDF
When you print a Web page, half the time you get a bunch of weirdly formatted and/or blank sheets. Print Friendly & PDF converts any page to a print-friendly format, stripping out ad banners and allowing you to adjust the text size and remove space-hogging elements (like photos). Plus, you get to preview the document before actually printing it, which should save you both time and paper.
Related: Print Friendly & PDF
Tired of reaching for your phone every time you get a text message? PushBullet delivers smartphone notifications to Chrome. But that's not all: It also lets you "push" messages (including text, links, maps, and even files) from your PC to your phone. And if you have friends who use PushBullet, you can message them from Chrome as well. Mostly, though, it's great for reading text messages without pulling out your phone.
Save to Google Drive
If you're going to use Google's Web browser, you might as well leverage it with other Google services. With Save to Google Drive installed, you can right-click nearly any file on any Web page, then save it directly to your--wait for it--Google Drive. That's a lot faster than saving the file to your hard drive, signing into your Google Drive account, and then uploading it.
Related: Save to Google Drive
A screencast is a great way to demonstrate something--like, for example, if you want to show your mother-in-law how to install and use a Google Chrome extension. Screencastify will record all the activity inside a Chrome tab (plus audio, if you use a microphone), then save the file to your hard drive or send it directly to Google Drive or YouTube. Lights, camera...Chrome!
The Web is chock full of great reading material. Too bad you don't have time to read it right now. With Pocket, one click turns the current page into a perfectly formatted, magazine-style folio, then syncs it to your Pocket account on the Web (and/or your phone or tablet). It works with video, too, so you can queue up killer YouTube clips for your train ride home from work.
Web of Trust
Although Chrome has some solid security tools built in, it won't warn you about potentially dangerous sites. But Web of Trust (WOT) will, starting with the search results you get from Google, Yahoo, or another search engine. Green means safe; yellow, iffy; and red, steer clear. By vetting these search results for you, WOT helps you avoid the Web's seedier (and not-so-safe) destinations.
Related: Web of Trust
Savvy Web shoppers know that when you get to the checkout page for an online store, that's the time to open a new tab and start searching for coupon codes. Zinc Save saves you the hassle, finding the best available discount for you and giving you a simple "Order with Zinc" option. It's currently compatible with Amazon, Macy's, Target, Walmart, and a handful of other stores.
Related: Zinc Save
Rick Broida is a veteran technology writer who began his career in 1989 with articles about the Commodore Amiga. He blogs for CNET and contributes regularly to "PC World," "Wired" and other outlets.