It’s impossible to pare down the bounty of incredible Google Chrome Extensions to just a handful, but we’ve never let the impossible stop us before. So, here is our most valiant attempt to highlight the most useful extensions (or some of them, at least) to improve your experience using the Google Chrome web browser.

chrome extensions

Photo Credit: Flickr

It’s impossible to pare down the bounty of incredible Google Chrome Extensions to just a handful, but we’ve never let the impossible stop us before. So, here is our most valiant attempt to highlight the most useful extensions (or some of them, at least) to improve your experience using the Google Chrome web browser.

Accessibility

Readability Redux – If you’re like we are, all that distracting clutter muddying up most web pages makes reading the actual content on those pages difficult and annoying. That’s why Chrome-users loved the original Readability extension, and why they now love the latest version: Readability Redux, even more. Just like its predecessor, Readability Redux removes that clutter to make the reading experience on the web easier and more pleasant. Unlike its predecessor, however, Readability Redux is customizable. So you can choose which sidebar items to clear and which ones to let remain on the screen.

redux

Blogging

Awesome Screenshot Google categorizes this under Blogging, so we’ve done the same, but let it be known that calling this purely a blogging tool belies this instant screen capture extension’s full value. More than just letting you clip an entire web page, or any portion thereof, and saving it to your hard drive, Awesome Screenshot lets you edit, annotate, and share these screenshots too. Besides blogging, uses for this awesome extension may include collecting research, creating reports and presentations, facilitating online collaborations, and sharing over social media (to name just a few).

blogging

Features of note:

  • Support horizontal scroll during capture.
  • Support PNG image format.
  • Annotate screenshots with circles, rectangles, lines, arrows and, of course, text.
  • Multiple cropping capabilities.
  • Upload to awesomescreenshot.com for a shareable link.
  • Paste screenshots into other programs (e.g. mail).
  • Save large files, even safely bypassing the 2 MB limit.

By Google

If picking the best (or most representative) third-party extensions for Google Chrome is hard, you can only imagine how daunting it is to pick the top Chrome extensions created by Google itself. That’s because Google seems to have an extension for every service and feature it offers. Therefore, we offer this list-within-a-list:

Google Mail Checker – One of the oldest and still by far the single most popular Google Chrome extension by Google; it seems people like knowing how many unread emails they have in their Gmail inbox the instant those messages arrive. This’ll do it.

Google Translate – Instantly translate any web page to the language of your choice.

Google Dictionary – Look up words that you don’t know in a web page without leaving the page; definitions pop-up above the text in the content body.

Google Search By Image – One of the coolest Google extensions created, this lets you conduct a Google web search based entirely on an image.

Google Chrome to Phone – Alas, only useful if you have an Android powered smartphone, but certainly the type of facility that soon (if not already) everyone is going to want to have: lets you send info and links from the web to your phone.

Developer Tools

Stylish – You don’t have to be a web developer to give your Chrome browser an extreme makeover. The Google Chrome browser is nothing if not utilitarian, which on a stylistic level can translate for some people to: bland. But with this extension, you no longer need to trade visual appeal for functionality. Now you can have both, and custom tailored to your own tastes and designs. Install skins and themes on your browser and on your favorite web sites, like YouTube and Facebook.

stylish

Features of note:

  • Remove irrelevant content.
  • Change color schemes.
  • Add and delete, enable and disable, and organize styles with clicks of a button.
  • No coding necessary, no configurations to locate.
  • Share original style designs.
  • Search from tens of thousands of styles designed by other users to copy and utilize yourself.

Fun

Since different people’s definitions of essential “fun” vary widely, here are a few choices to cover a wider spectrum:

Torrents Turbo Search – If it’s a torrent and it’s available online, this extension promises to find it for you in one second.

Radio Player Live – Find and listen to any audio stream available online instantly; you can even add your own feeds and save your favorite stations.

Puzzle for Chrome – Turn any image on your browser into a sliding puzzle for a little diversion.

Google Similar Pages – If you like this page (or any page) you’re reading, this extension has some recommendations of other similar pages you may also like.

News & Weather

Feedly – For news we recommend this extension that organizes your RSS feeds in Google Reader into an easy to read and attractive magazine style format that lets you save, categorize, share and organize the stories in your feed for the most pleasant feed reading experience available online.

Gismeteo – For weather we’re recommending this extension because, quite simply, it is the most popular weather extension for Chrome right now by a longshot. It provides real- time weather conditions and 24-hour forecasts for any locations around the world in a convenient and eminently customizable drop down format.

Search Tool

WOT – So many websites, so many security risks. Who can you trust? That’s what the makers of WOT aim to answer, with the help of millions of web users just like you. WOT is a community powered tool that identifies the trustworthiness (or lack thereof) of different websites and indicates those ratings with a simple traffic light icon appearing next to your Google search results.

Features of note:

  • More detailed ratings across relevant categories (privacy, child safety, vendor reliability) appear in a convenient pop-down format.
  • Detailed warnings appear before browsing to high-risk websites.

Shopping

PriceBlink – As more and more people are shopping online, the value of comparison shopping and bargain hunting is greater than ever before. Enter PriceBlink, which does all this for you while you shop. Only active on ecommerce sites (so it doesn’t bother you while you’re not shopping), this extension finds money-saving coupons and better prices elsewhere on items you’re viewing now.

Features of note:

  • Create and share Wish lists.
  • Read customer reviews.
  • Receive notifications regarding deals on your favorite items or at your favorite e-stores.
  • Instantly click over to the better priced item on a different website.

Social & Communication

Shareaholic – Billed as “the easiest way to share interesting webpages” and we would have to agree, Shareaholic is the last and only share button that you’ll ever need. Compatible with 250 social networks, from the most popular to the most obscure, this extension lets you share webpages and even links from within webpages with 1-click ease and efficiency. Clear your messy browser bar, once and for all, of those endless share buttons for each individual social network you belong to. Now you can manage all your shares across all your social networks and even sync with different computers and browsers, all from a single place.

share

Features of note:

  • Set Favorite networks.
  • Select any number of individual networks to share with at once.
  • Create short links to cut down on character usage.
  • View an archive of all your shares in an organized dashboard.
  • No registration required.

 

Tim Wilson works as content manager for HostPapa, a website hosting company serving over 100,000 customers around the world. Since launching in 2006, HostPapa has offered reliable, budget-friendly, easy-to-use web hosting solutions for small to medium-sized businesses.