Now the world's most popular web browser, Chrome is a major success for Google - and one of the reasons people love it so much is its support for extensions.
These add-ons are generally tiny and install in seconds, but can drastically change the way we use the web. From boosting browser performance and beautifying tabs to saving us money on online shopping and keeping us safely password protected, there's an extension for almost everything - and new ones pop up all the time.
We've scoured the Chrome Web Store for the best new extensions, as well as identifying the older must-haves. Read on for the essential extensions that every Chrome user should download.
Best new extensions
1) Share to Facebook
If you’re one of the millions compelled to use Facebook on an hourly basis, this extension will streamline your workflow – or, at least, your share-flow. While you’re on a website, clicking Share to Facebook’s toolbar icon will bring up a dialogue box allowing you to instantly share a link (or, say, a YouTube video) to Facebook, along with a comment. You can share to your own Timeline, a friend’s Timeline, a group or via a private message.
2) Netflix Party
Netflix Party is the ideal solution to a very modern day problem – how to watch Netflix films and shows with your mates when you’re not all physically in the same place. Add this extension and you’ll be able to create a virtual watching party by sending friends a link to join and sync playback so that, no matter where you are, you’re all watching the same thing at the same time. There’s even a chat client built in, so you can share your thoughts when Frank Underwood does something particularly underhanded in House of Cards or when Adam Sandler gets angry and starts shouting in anything he’s ever been in.
So, thanks to Chrome, you no longer do you have to binge-watch alone. It’s just a shame tech hasn’t discovered a way to virtually share a bowl of popcorn. Yet.
You probably shouldn’t be sitting in front of your computer late at night as that causes eyestrain and makes it harder for you to get to sleep. But let’s face it, if there’s some especially entertaining Facebook beef going down or you suddenly decide you must know the entire history of Liechtenstein, you’re going to be sat in bed glued to that laptop.
Darkness helps reduce the strain on your peepers by adding free dark themes for Google and Facebook and for Gmail and YouTube if you make a one-off payment of US$4.99. And it’s not just easy on the eyes in the literal sense – the themes are attractively designed, too.
4) Amazon Worldwide Shipping
Online shopping has turned us all into spoilt brats by making our once-regular trips to the high street and supermarket virtually unnecessary, but there are still some things you can’t buy on Amazon India. Luckily, most of them are available on Amazon US!
And with this extension, you can buy them and have them sent directly to your home, no matter where in the world you are – just add your desired items to your shopping cart, navigate to the shopping cart page, hit the extension icon in your toolbar and the postage costs will be calculated for you (NB: there’s no guarantee that said postage costs will be reasonable, and while the service tries to group as many purchases into as few packages as possible, sometimes it’ll be more than one box).
If you’ve always got ideas flying at you or just need somewhere to scribble a shopping list, consider adding Papier to Chrome. When you open a fresh tab in the browser, Papier turns it into a blank sheet for taking notes. Uncluttered and clean, it keeps a character/word count in the bottom right corner, while a clickable box in the bottom left corner gives you access to settings like formatting, a dark-hued night mode and the ability to print. Your musings are automatically synced within Chrome, so your Papier notes won’t disappear when you close the tab.
Procrastination has never been as easy as it is today. Thanks to the web, we’re constantly getting pulled away from work to guffaw at memes on reddit, troll Facebook friends, get into arguments with Twitter eggs about which season of Game of Thrones is the best (let’s be honest: it’s the first one) and scour Wikipedia for fascinating facts about the Luftwaffe.
If you’re a prime sufferer of this condition, StayFocusd might just be the cure. It restricts the amount of time you’re able to spend on selected sites per day – once you’ve used up your allotted minutes, that site is blocked for the rest of the day. You can tweak the list to your specific needs and if you feel your resolve waver, you can pick the “Nuclear Option” – which prevents you from accessing the sites for a set amount of time, regardless of your allowed minutes.
7) Smart Tab Mute
One to file under “simple but effective”, this extension does exactly what it says on the tin: if you have multiple tabs playing audio at once, it brings order to the cacophony by automatically muting all except one. A feature that will probably become standard in all web browsers at some point in the not-too-distant future.
If you use Gmail and Google Calendar, Calbert is a must. It’s a seamless bridge between the two that lets you create quick calendar events by automatically extracting details from emails (like names, times, dates and durations), letting you swiftly edit anything you need to, then whizzing it directly into a calendar entry. While it works best with Gmail, it’ll work in any website to a degree – you might just have to populate all the forms manually.