Google Chrome is much more than just a browser and that’s how it became the web’s favorite internet browser. And it was perhaps the first cloud-integrated web browser.
That is, everything you do inside Google Chrome was automatically synced across all your computers (and today mobile devices as well).
And there are literally hundreds of thousands of Google Chrome extensions that can make this super-browser even more powerful.
The good thing is, there must be an extension to make Chrome work the way you want. For instance, I often end up accidentally close a pinned tab. So, I can install an extension called Lock Tab to prevent it (I’m not using it though).
The only problem with Chrome is that… it’s so resource hungry that it eats up your computer’s memory (RAM) in a big way. So make sure that you don’t overload your browser with a ton of add-ons or extensions.
It will not only slow down your computer but also make it a mess as most of the Chrome extensions can access your browsing history (or much more). So it’s always a good idea to install only the trusted ones.
Today, I have sorted some of the best Google Chrome extensions and apparently they are also my personal favorites.
13 Google Chrome Extensions I Can’t Live Without
Here’s a quick reminder. It’s really impossible to come up with a definite list of Google Chrome extensions as its selection depends upon a person and his/her nature of work.
For instance, if you are a gamer or a graphic designer then you may not find much helpful extensions. But if you are a blogger or even a writer then you would find at least few of them helpful.
That’s why this is a list of my favorite extensions. And I have divided the list into two: the first 13 are the ones that I can’t live without and it’s enabled all the time. And the next 13 are the ones that I activate on-demand — that is, when I want to do something with it.
1. Checker Plus for Gmail
Checker Plus for Gmail is one of the most useful (and perhaps the best too) Google Chrome extension for Gmail.
And it’s got a ton of customization options that lets you change the alert sound, notification style, button click action, email fetching schedule, extension icon, keyboard shortcuts, etc.
What’s so fantastic about this extension is that if you customize it according to your usage then it can save a lot of time.
For instance, you can immediately mark a new message as read and archive it — with one-click — without even opening it.
Also, if you enable “Open Checker Plus popup window” as the default button click action in options and then you can see a quick glance of all your unread messages in a popup window and can then mark a message (or all of it) as read, or as spam, or archive or delete it.
Rapportive shows the details of your contact’s LinkedIn profile (and other social media profiles when available) right inside your Gmail inbox.
It fetches and shows the details automatically on the sidebar when you open a message or when you hover your cursor over an email id.
Actually, now it’s not as useful as it used to be. LinkedIn acquired Rapportive and since then it fetches only the LinkedIn profiles of the contact and rarely other social media profiles.
However, it’s still one of my favorites and I prefer it over better alternatives like Sidekick as Rapportive is simple and less annoying.
Sidekick could be a better alternative if you are looking for a feature rich alternative. But I do not like Sidekick much as it requires a registration and it alerts you to sign up for a premium account and even shows an annoying button on the left navigation (which you can’t hide or disable).
Anyway, the added advantage of these extensions is that it replaces the ads on your Gmail sidebar.
3. Add to Wunderlist
Add to Wunderlist is the official Google Chrome extension of the awesome Wunderlist app. If you haven’t tried Wunderlist before then you must try it now. And if you are already a Wunderlist user who do not use any Chrome extensions then you should try this.
It lets you add a web page as a task with one-click and also lets you add a reminder or list location before you save it. You can add tasks by clicking on the extension icon or by using the right-click menu.
Wunderlist also offers a new tab extension that replaces Google Chrome’s new tab page with a lightweight version of Wunderlist.
AdBlock probably needs no introduction as it’s the most popular Google Chrome extension with over 200 million downloads. As the name suggests, it blocks ads on Facebook, YouTube, Gmail, and across the web.
You can even block specific URLs or ads or iframes by using the right-click menu. That’s not all. It also blocks automatic malware downloads and alerts you when it detects one.
5. Awesome Screenshot
Awesome Screenshot lets you capture a portion of the screen or the entire screen or only the visible portion of the screen and then allows you to edit before saving it to your hard drive (or cloud storage) or copy to clipboard.
So you can crop the image or blur a portion of the image or add an arrow to highlight something or add a text without using an image editor like Paint or Photoshop. Again, you can also define your own shortcut keys (Ctrl + Shift + ?) to trigger different kinds of captures.
If you register (free) on AwesomeScreenshot.com then you can make use of their image hosting service and you will be able to save your screen captures in the cloud and share it with others.
6. Search by Image (by Google)
Search by Image is a simple extension that lets you reverse search an image on Google Images. That is, you can initiate a Google Image search by using any image that you found on a web page (or across the web). All you need to do is, right-click an image and click the “Search Google with this image” menu.
You can also initiate a search by using the images on your own computer. Simply drag and drop an image on your computer in a new Chrome tab so that it opens the image inside the browser — and then you will be able to right-click and search.
Just make sure that you have enabled the advanced option “Allow access to file URLs” in Chrome extensions page (chrome://extensions/) for this extension.
7. Alexa Traffic Rank
Alexa Traffic Rank is the official Alexa.com extension for Google Chrome. Just hover your mouse cursor over the extension button and it will show the Alexa Traffic Rank of the website that you’re currently browsing.
Even though Alexa Traffic Rank doesn’t matter much it’s still the easiest way to determine the popularity of a website among webmasters.
8. Open SEO Stats
Open SEO Stats was formerly known as PageRank Status and is my favorite SEO extension for Google Chrome. When you are browsing a web page, simply click the extension icon and it popups a menu with the following modules: SEO Stats, Traffic Stats, Site Info, Page Info, Link Status, Page Speed, and Tools.
You can get details like Alexa traffic rank (current and historical), Compete traffic rank, Google PageRank, IP address & location, indexed pages on Google, Bing & other search engines, DNS, social sharing stats, page speed details, and technical details like canonical URL, meta tags (title, description, keywords, robots), internal & external link count, headings, etc. — with one-click.
Wait, it also shows links to the current URL’s Archive.org, Moz Open Site Explorer, Robots.txt, XML Sitemap, Sourcecode, WOT, Whois, etc.
9. Create Link
Create Link is my latest favorite and that’s why it’s not listed on any of my list of Chrome extensions.
It’s a tiny extension that can copy the current URL in different formats. For instance, I have created the following copy formats based on my personal usage.
As you can see, it’s all about copying the current URL and Title in different formats with slight changes. I use Create Link primarily to add links to Evernote, or to share a web page on Twitter, or to generate a “Don’t Miss” tag to paste in a blog post.
10. Context Menu Search
Context Menu Search is a simple extension that lets you search the selected text on a pre-defined search engine. That is, you can add custom search engines (just like the way you add more search engines in Google Chrome) or add more from the available list to Chrome’s right-menu.
So if you added Wikipedia from the list, then you can select a word or phrase on a web page and use the right-click menu to search it on Wikipedia. You can decide whether to open the search results in a new background tab or in a new tab next to the current tab (my choice).
11. Word & Character Count Tool
Word & Character Count Tool lets you count the number of words and characters in the selected text. Just select a paragraph or even a full web page, and click the option “Word and Character Count” on the right click menu.
It shows total number of words and characters along with number of sentences, paragraphs, average sentence length and word length. It’s super-handy if you are a blogger or a writer.
12. Yet Another Google Bookmarks Extension (YAGBE)
Yet Another Google Bookmarks Extension is my favorite Google Bookmarks extension for Chrome. It displays your Google Bookmarks in a tree with support for labels, searching, and sorting.
YAGBE enables ads by default so you can enable “I don’t want to support you” on its options. It also lets you customize: font size, background color, icons, keyboard shortcuts, etc.
If you are looking for a third-party bookmarking service then you can consider Xmarks Bookmark Sync (to backup and sync your bookmarks and open tabs across all your computers and browsers).
13. Chrome Remote Desktop
Chrome Remote Desktop is a nifty app that lets you access all your computers (Windows and Mac) from another computer or from your mobile devices.
It can be used for a variety of purposes like to access your own computer from a remote location or to provide (or get) remote support or to securely access your files or software applications on your computer from a mobile device, and so on.
Since it’s linked to your Google account there’s no such thing as an extra user id or special codes to access your computer from another device of yours.
All you need to do is install the Chrome Remote Desktop app on all your devices (computers, tablets, mobiles) and you’re good to go.
Chrome Remote Desktop is a Chrome app and not an extension. In fact, it’s the only Chrome app that I’m using — everything else are extensions. You can go here for more details about how it works.
13 Google Chrome Extensions I Can Live Without
As I have already mentioned, these are the plugins that I always end up activating and deactivating regularly. Because I either have an alternate solution or I do not need it all the time. So, I think it’s fair to say they are the ones I can live without. ;)
14. Evernote Web Clipper
Evernote Web Clipper is the official Evernote extension for Google Chrome. But should you install it? Well, it depends. If you have already installed Evernote for Windows or Mac then you can easily add stuff to your Evernote account without installing any other addons or plugins.
But if you want to save a whole page in your Evernote or if you often share your notes with your friends then Evernote Web Clipper can be handy. Because it lets you clip a web page and share it instantly with others after annotation.
15. Save to Pocket
Save to Pocket is the official Pocket Extension for Chrome. So if you are using Pocket app then it’s a must-have. With one-click, you can instantly save a web page to your Pocket account. When you install it, you can quickly save a web page to your Pocket with one-click.
If you are looking for a more feature rich Pocket extension then I would recommend Pickpocket (opens a popup window when you click its icon and it lets you view, search, and open your saved links).
16. Feedly Mini
Feedly Mini is the official Feedly extension for Google Chrome but it doesn’t show the unread feed count.
So you can try an alternative like Feedly Notifier as it not only shows the unread items in your Feedly account but also shows desktop notifications. And luckily you can disable updates for specific categories.
Buffer is the smartest way to share content to your social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+) from anywhere on the web, with just one-click. Simply click the Buffer icon (or use the right-click menu) to share the current web page immediately or add it to the Buffer queue.
If you end up posting the same content on your Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ profile then it’s super-useful. I no longer do it and that’s why it’s not one of my “can’t live without it” kind of addon.
18. Google Dictionary (by Google)
Google Dictionary was my all time favorite Chrome extension (and it still is!). It shows the definitions as you browse the web. Just double-click a word and it will show its Google Definition in a small popup bubble.
And if you click “More »” on the bubble then it takes directly to its Google Dictionary search results. The best thing about this extension is that it also lets you view the definition of a phrase as well.
Just set a trigger key in extension options and it displays the definition bubble when you select a phrase and click press the trigger key. Also, foreign language words are automatically translated in the language that you have chosen.
Mac users probably don’t need this extension as OS X’s “Look Up in Dictionary” feature is perfect.
19. Hover Zoom
Hover Zoom as the name suggests let you zoom images on mouse over, without opening a new tab. Just move the mouse cursor over an image’s thumbnail and it will enlarge the image automatically in a bubble window showing its full size.
So it’s super-useful when you browse Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Amazon, etc.
ColorZilla is the best add-on to quickly identify the color of any pixel on a web page. It’s got an advanced color picker (like the one in Adobe Photoshop) and you can instantly copy the color code to your clipboard — to use wherever you want.
All you need to do is, click the extension icon or you can set a keyboard shortcut to activate it.
21. Page Refresh
Page Refresh is my preferred auto refresh add-on for Chrome. There are more feature rich alternatives like Super Auto Refresh but I personally like Page Refresh as it lets you hide its icon from the address bar.
That is, you can enable “Show refresh icon only when pressing key combo” in Options and it will show the Page Refresh icon only when the keyboard shortcut “Ctrl + Shift + R (on Windows) or “Cmd ” Shift + R” (on Mac) is pressed.
22. Tab Wheel Scroll
Tab Wheel Scroll is a tiny extension that lets you scroll Chrome browser tabs easily. Just press the “Alt” key (Windows) or the “Option” key (Mac) and then scroll up or down the mouse wheel.
It will scroll through your open browser tabs provided your cursor is over the actual web page (and not any other portion of the browser like address bar or bookmarks bar).
It’s really useful when you are researching something and has numerous tabs open. However, you do not need it if you are more comfortable using Chrome’s keyboard shortcut.
23. SERPTrends SEO Extension
SERPTrends SEO Extension is not really one of my favorites but it’s useful at times as it shows dynamics on Google, Yahoo, and Bing search results.
That is, it numbers the search results and also tells you whether a search result has moved up or down in position.
Apart from that, you can also enable parameters so that it will show a dropdown menu beside each search result and can check a web page’s whois, archive.org, robots.txt, etc. in one-click.
24. Page Analytics (by Google)
Page Analytics is the official Google Analytics extension for Chrome that shows how users interact with your web pages. When browsing a website that has your Google Analytics tags installed, you can click the Google Analytics button on Chrome and it will show a data panel at the bottom or top of the browser window (you can customize it).
The data panel shows the real-time visitors on your website plus the number of page views, unique page views, average time spent, and the bounce rate of the current web page — for the selected period. It also highlights where your users are clicking so that you can optimize your website accordingly.
NoFollow highlights all the nofollow links and it also detects noindex and nofollow meta tags (if any) on a web page. You can enable or disable it for a specific website as you browse it — using its address bar icon.
It also gives you a lot of customization options so that you can change the way nofollow links are highlighted and can even create a whitelist to disable the extension on specific websites.
26. Strict Workflow (Pomodoro Technique)
Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique that uses a timer to break down a work into intervals known as “pomodoros” with short and long breaks.
Traditionally, one Pomodoro is 25 minutes in length and a short break time is 5 minutes and a long break time is 30 minutes.
So it involves taking a 5 minute break after completing one Pomodoro and taking a 30 minute break after completing four Pomodoros.
The idea is to choose one particular task and then spending 25 minutes to accomplish it (without any interruption).
This way, you can break down a big project into micro-tasks and then complete one micro-task in one Pomodoro — by using a Pomodoro timer.
It’s the best way to fight perfection paralysis or laziness. Because you will notice that once you start working on something you will actually end up finishing it.
For instance, the secret to writing a blog post is to start writing one.
The best thing about this extension is that it lets you define your own custom work time and break time. So you can set even 1 minute as both your work and break time — most Pomodoro app do not allow a 1 minute or even 5 minute timer.
Also, when the work or break time is over it shows a notification plus a sound alert (both are optional). And you have to click the extension icon to start another Pomodoro.
An added advantage of this extension is that it also blocks access to social media websites like Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Reddit, etc. when the timer is ON.
And I’m not personally using any of the Pomodoro Chrome extensions as I prefer a desktop alternative called Activity Timer.
There are two kinds of Google Chrome users. Those who use Chrome extensions and those who should be using Chrome extensions.
The purpose of this blog post as you can see is pretty simple. It’s to encourage the usage of browser extensions (whether you’re a Chrome or a Firefox user) and not exactly to promote the plugins that I have been using.
So, what are your favorite Chrome extensions — and why?