Favorite Google Chrome Extensions

I’m in the process of setting up a new computer (yes, the rumors are true … I’m using a MacBook Pro now).  Now I have a work gmail account and a personal gmail account, so I’m setting up my new computer with Chrome synced to my work Gmail.  This means I’m revisiting my “must-have” Chrome browser extensions and looking around to see if I’m missing anything awesome.

Chrome Extensions live in the address bar at the top of the Chrome Browser.

Consider this a major update to the list of Chrome Extensions I compiled in 2010.  Here are a few of my recent favorites that might be useful to you:

Reading and Writing

RSS Subscription Extension:  If a website has an RSS feed and you’re NOT subscribed via Google Reader, the RSS icon will appear in the address window. Click on it and subscribe to the RSS for new content.

Lazarus Form Recovery: You know how the browser inevitably crashes when you’re writing a paragraph of text in a conference proposal?  Lazarus autosaves all the text you enter in form fields.  When the browser crashes, you’ll recover that text.

Thesaurus Extension: Highlight a word with your cursor, right-click (Mac: CMD-click or 2-finger tap) on the word, choose the thesaurus option.

To delete an extension, turn one off, or change the settings, go to the Chrome “wrench” in the upper right-hand corner, then “Tools”, then “Extensions.” Click on image to enlarge.

Video Extensions

Turn Off the Lights: When there is video content on a page, you’ll see the ToTL icon turn black. Click it and the rest of the screen will fade out so that you can watch the video without distraction.

QuietTube: Send viewers to a Youtube video without all the ads and other video suggestions. This is fantastic for instructors that want to strip off all the video suggestions and the advertisements (well, most of them).

Bookmarking and Sharing

Mindomo Bookmarks: When you visit a webpage that you’d like to add to your mindmaps, click Mindomo Bookmarks to import the URL and site description to your Mindomo Account (you need to set up or link to an existing Mindomo account to do this – make sure you manually set up an account, don’t use the auto-setup from Gmail or Facebook).  When you go to Mindomo, you can quickly move those links to the appropriate mindmap branches.

bitly Bookmarks: I have to say that I used to like this extension a lot.  It used to be that in one click, you could send a URL and site description to your Twitter account.  Now it takes 4 clicks to do the same thing, and you can’t add hashtags to the end of a tweet anymore.  Hashtags will appear before the URL.  So any functionality that depends on the hashtag on the end of a Tweet will no longer work.  I’m replacing this one with Hootsuite, but it still might be useful for you if you’re also looking for a Bookmark manager.

Hootsuite Hootlet:  Quickly share with any/all of your social media sites. Schedule messages for later.

Readability:  View any article in an easy-to-read font of your choice, in the width of your choice, without all the ads and other crap on webpages.

Send from Gmail: Click the icon to send the website URL and description to someone using your Gmail account.


AdBlock: Block most advertisements on webpages.  Note: You will sometimes have to turn this off to get a website to load properly.

StayFocusd: Increase your productivity by enforcing self-imposed rules about how much time you can spend on a given website (like, ahem, Facebook).

Designing or Editing a website?

WhatFont: Just hover over the text on a webpage and a tool tip pops up to tell you what the font is.

Color Picker: An eyedropper tool that tells you what the color you’re looking at on a webpage is.

To make this list more dynamic (and easy to find in the future), I’ll house a permanent collection of great Chrome extensions under the Resources Tab: Chrome Extensions from now on.

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Triple Click

Here’s one of those little “Secret Technology Tips” that works in all sorts of programs and fields.

  • Single-click places the cursor.
  • Double-click highlights the word.
  • Triple-click highlights ALL of the text in the field or paragraph.
  • Ctrl-A (PC) or Cmd-A (Mac) highlights ALL the text/images in that document space.

Click on image to enlarge.

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Extensions to Make Chrome Work for You

If you’re like me, you eagerly tried out Google Chrome right when it came out, but the lack of Flash support was an absolute killer.  So now I wander back every once in a while (especially when Firefox is crashing).  I like Chrome, and it does seem to run faster (a big concern of mine since I function without broadband Internet at home).  However, the fact that Google Bookmarks did not work with Chrome was a game-stopper.  I use my Google Bookmarks as a “to do” list of sorts, marking links with various labels for the sole purpose of adding them to digital maps or looking them up for articles later.  These are not public collections, nor do I want them to be and I plan to start using it regularly now.

To make a longer blog post short, I just discovered that the extension ecosystem around Google Chrome is now far more robust than it used to be.  Some of these Chrome add-ons (called extensions) are essentially beta (use at your own risk), but Chrome is now a viable option for me.

  • Google Bookmarks can be synced with Chrome using this GBX Google Bookmarks Extension, but Chrome bookmarks (if you have them) cannot be backwards synced.  Yes, there is one for Delicious too.
  • Add a Readability button using this extension.  In one click of the Readability button, you can turn an article with text, ads, and pictures to nothing but easy-to-read text in the default size, color, and background that you choose.
  • If you regularly tweet, like, or email webpages to friends, you might like the ease of Shareaholic, and it too has an  extension for Chrome.  I tried the bit.ly extension, but it seems to be a bit buggy and I wasn’t impressed.
  • Not so long ago, someone told me about AdBlock, which is when I realized that not everyone was being forced to look at the poorly-designed graphic images and animations in Facebook.  There is some ethical quandry about whether it is morally right to block the ads, which are, in fact, keeping the websites funded.  Take it or leave it, I like AdBlock and here’s the extension for Chrome.
  • It used to be that you could only get the cool 3-D wall view of images from Cool Iris in Firefox, but (yay!) this extension is also available in Chrome now.
  • For a totally, indulgence-only extension, try Turn Off the Lights, which you can click to darken the rest of the screen when you’re going to show a video, just like you’re in the movie theater (find this here).
  • Many a time I have been working on a blog post or a conference proposal submission when something causes the browser to crash.  When that happens, you can lose all the carefully worded thoughts you’ve typed in the text boxes.  Well, not if you’re using Lazarus: Form Recovery (not recommended for Mac/Linux yet), which autosaves all those important thoughts.  Here’s the Lazarus extension.

Honestly, I don’t see anything else that is must-have, but maybe you know of some Chrome extension that we should check out?

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