Extensions are add-on functions for Google's Chrome browser. They allow you to customise it to give it the features you want, and make it quicker to do the things you regularly do. Here are 10 extensions you should try out today.
Best extensions for Google Chrome
One of the things that makes Google Chrome a really popular web browser is its ability to accommodate extensions. These add functions to Chrome allowing you to customise your browser so it does exactly what you want it to.
See also: Six alternative web browsers
There are hundreds of extensions, capable of adding a huge range of different features and functions. As you'd expect, there are many extensions that link with Google’s apps and services such as Gmail and Drive. Your favourite applications may well also have Chrome extensions – if you use Evernote, Dropbox, or Pocket, for example, you’ll find extensions.
It’s not all serious stuff, and there are fun extensions too. Spotify has one, and there are games and art-related add-ons as well.
Some of the best extensions have really simple functions. Right-Click Search Wikipedia might sound a bit of a mouthful, but the description says it all. Highlight a word, right click and you'll see a 'search Wikipedia' option in the menu.
You find extensions by using the Chrome Menu (the three horizontal lines top right of the screen), and selecting Tools then Extensions (or by typing chrome://extensions into Chrome's 'omibox' address / search bar).
At the bottom of the browser window that opens, click Get More Extensions to go to the online store.
Before we share our favourite extensions, a word of warning: take care not to install too many or Chrome will start to require lots of system resources and may change from being sleek and slim to resource hungry.
Make sure you're confident the extensions you install are secure and won’t compromise your system. Also, managing a lot of extensions can become unwieldy.
By using that chrome://extensions shortcut, it's easy to install and remove extensions, so there’s nothing to stop you experimenting to find out what suits you best.
So, in no particular order, here are our current top 10 Chrome extensions:
Best Chrome Extensions: Invisible Hand
Invisible hand is a shopping tool that compares prices across a range of different sources to find the lowest price for you. It specialises in flights, hotels and car rental with coverage of hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotels.
It also supports general shopping and it covers over 600 retailers in the UK, Germany and the US. Invisible Hand is easy to use – once installed you just tap its icon and type what you are looking for. The results open in a browser page and from there you can link directly into the retailers.
However, a brilliant feature is that Invisible Hand will automatically pop up when you're shopping online to alert you if you can get the same product cheaper elsewhere.
Best Chrome Extensions: Ghostery
Ghostery is one of many security-focused Chrome extensions. It checks websites you visit for tracking elements. These tracking elements could be all kinds of different things including tracking for advertisement placement and trackers that websites use for their own analytics purposes.
Ghostery tells you what it has found, and gives you the chance to learn more about the companies which are tracking you. You can also choose to block certain trackers if you’d rather they didn’t record your every move. Bear in mind that not all trackers are bad. If you disable everything, you might find some websites don't work properly - or don't remember your preferences.
Best Chrome Extensions: Quick Notes
Quick Notes isn’t the best-looking Chrome extension, but it does a simple task really well. If you like to make a few notes while you are browsing websites, then it should appeal.
When you tap its icon it opens a notes window into which you can jot down your notes. You can cut and paste information from a website into Quick Notes just by highlighting and then right clicking, or you can write freeform.
The notes you make stay put in different Chrome browser sessions until you delete them manually. Plus, you can email notes thanks to a direct link into Gmail.
Best Chrome Extensions: Google Calendar
There are plenty of extensions that link into Google’s various apps. One that we really like is Google Calendar because of its flexibility and pure simplicity. It’ll show you upcoming events simply by clicking its icon in the Chrome toolbar – and it will pick up events from multiple calendars so you can see commitments you share with other people.
You can also use Google Calendar to add events to your Calendar. You can do this manually or from websites that use the appropriate encoding. The extension icon even shows you how long it is until your next appointment.
Next page: six more great Chrome extensions