Best Chrome extensions: Supercharge your browser
Google Chrome has long been the most popular web browser in the world, after stealing the crown from Internet Explorer back in 2013. Along with its speed and simplicity, one of the main reasons for this is the impressive number of extensions that you can install for free from the Chrome Web Store.
These extensions can be designed to make browsing easier, more fun or educational. Here’s our round-up of the best plug-ins you need to download.
Chrome extensions for bookworms and writers
Grammarly: This plugin is an instant spell and grammar check on everything you type, such as important work emails or Facebook posts. You have to create an account on Grammarly.com, but it’s completely free and the process is very straightforward. With an account, you’ll get personalised emails every week tracking how many words you typed, how your proficiency compares to other users and what mistakes you make the most often.
Google Dictionary: This dictionary is as simple as it gets. You can stay on whatever page or document you are reading, double-click any word and the definition will pop up in a bubble immediately.
- Spreed: A conflation of “speed” and “read”, this extension allows you to tear through online text, all the while training you to improve your reading speed. Particularly useful for university procrastinators who leave assignments to the last minute, attempting to stave off nervous breakdowns as they tackle frankly insurmountable volumes of reading. You know who you are.
Chrome extensions for planners and doers
Planyway (Trellius): calendar for Trello: Trello is a great tool to monitor tasks for big teams and projects. Trello’s cards usually detail a task to be completed, and the cards can be assigned to specific team members and categorised so you can track who’s doing what and what’s complete so far. Planyway can help you organise your Trello cards by the date and time they need to be completed, alongside personal tasks.
Click&Clean: This extension gives you a centralised place to monitor your browser’s backend. It can clean out your computer with one click by deleting your search history, download history, erasing temporary files and clearing cookies.
LastPass: Any multitasker probably has to remember loads of log-ins to get all of their tasks done during the day. It can be hard to keep track of all those passwords when you have so much on your plate, but that is where LastPass comes in. This extension stores all of your passwords in one space so you only have to remember one – the password for LastPass, of course.
Leaf: If you’ve got flyaway thoughts that you want to store all in one place, Leaf is the plugin for you. It appears as a tiny pink leaf in your toolbar, and when you click on it, all of your notes appear. You can separate and title lists, and it has search functionality so you can find long-forgotten ideas.
- Todoist: This one’s a good all-rounder if you’re looking for a default to-do list manager. Handily, you can set priorities on tasks and recurring dates for commonplace ones. All the while, your seven day schedule is splayed out in an aesthetically-pleasing interface. The only caveat is that there’s a paywall for the most premium features, such as task reminders and comments. On the whole though, it’s a robustly useful organisational app, with cross-device syncing to boot.
Chrome extensions for motivation
StayFocusd: This is probably one of the best free Chrome plug-in options available. It’s a productivity extension that lets you block sites, pages and even in-page content, such as videos or games. You put sites that you use for work on your “Allowed Sites” feed. Then, you can use the extension’s “nuclear option” to block all other sites for a specific amount of time determined by you. You can also allot yourself a maximum amount of time for recreational use before the extension blocks certain sites.
Momentum: This is the most feel-good plug-in you’ll find. Once you add it to Chrome, every time you open a new tab, a page will pop up with the time, a greeting — such as “Good afternoon, classy” — and a daily goal to achieve. You can also opt to see the weather, an inspirational quote and more.
- Motivation: The clue’s in the name. This slightly scary plug-in takes a hard-line approach to motivation, replacing the new tab page that pops up when you – you guessed it – open a new tab, with a real-time counter showing your current age. We’re talking “24.1881147892” type scenario. It’s a frightening thing to watch real-time elapse in front of your very eyes, but certainly effective. If your life motto reads something like “time you enjoy wasting isn’t wasted time”, this is probably one to steer clear of.
Chrome extensions for security and privacy
- No Coin: Cryptocurrency is all the rage at the moment and many people using their PCs to ‘mine’ virtual coins. The downside to this ‘cryptocurrency rush’ is that hackers are now injecting code into websites that harnesses the processing power of their visitors’ computers to mine coins without their knowledge. Fortunately, you can prevent your own PC from being exploited for someone else’s gain by installing a this extension, which blocks all known cryptocurrency miners all over the web.
- DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials: This extension offers a reliable way to protect your data online. The add-on rates every website you visit with a privacy grade (from A to F) that tells you at a glance how protected you are, based on the number of hidden tracker networks, whether your data is encrypted and the site’s privacy practices. A private-search box also prevents your searches from being tracked and stored and DuckDuckGo forces sites to use their secure HTTPS versions where available.
All of these options are free, and you can find thousands more on Chrome’s web store. Most of these revolve around how you work or what you work on, but if they don’t fit the bill, there are plenty more to explore. There’s also recreational options — such as Tabby Cat and a Pinterest Save Button — if you’ve embraced your inner procrastinator.