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Black Menu for Chrome puts all your Google services a click away

This handy extension lets you access Gmail, Calendar, Maps, Google Drive, and a lot more with just one click.

If you rely heavily on Google services, as so many small-business users do these days, you're probably familiar with the black toolbar that spans the top of various Google services. It provides quick and convenient access to apps like Search, Gmail, Calendar, and so on.

Ah, but what happens when you're viewing a non-Google site? No toolbar, that's what.

Black Menu for Chrome puts all Google services just a click away. Once installed, this extension adds a button to your browser that reveals an attractive drop-down menu for all Google's best stuff: Search, Google+, Translate, Maps, Gmail, Calendar, and the like.

Even better, when you mouse over any of these items, you get an interactive window for using them. For example, mouse over Search and you've got a Google Search field ready for your terms. Mouse over Gmail and you'll see your inbox, where you can read and respond to messages, compose new ones, and even access your search filters.

Calendar shows a month view alongside a list of upcoming events, and your scheduled tasks below that.

If that action window proves too small, you can click any item in the menu to open a full instance in a new tab.

At the bottom of the Black Menu, the More option reveals a full, scroll-able list of Google services, everything from AdSense to YouTube, with more obscure stuff like Consumer Surveys and Postini in between. For some reason, however, nothing happened when I clicked anything inside the More menu.

That glitch aside, Black Menu is an incredibly handy addition to Chrome, and far better than Google's own "black menu." It may not have a major impact on your productivity, but I suspect it'll have a minor one.

As always, if you've found any great productivity-boosting extensions, tell me about them in the comments.

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