Google Chrome is by far one of the most customizable Internet browsers out there. You probably know that you can select any number of skins to change the physical appearance of your open windows and you can add apps and games to your home screen. If you link your browser to your Gmail account, you can even bring up your personalized browser on any computer!
Chrome’s customizability extends to extensions—downloadable applications that run programs as you surf to improve the quality and functionality of your browser. There are thousands of different extensions available for free or purchased download in the Chrome Web Store, and their functions range from the mundane to the super-specialized. I’ve compiled a list of extensions offering some basic functions, but I encourage you to explore the Web Store yourself to see what extensions there are to fulfill needs you never knew you had.
Goo.gl by mattiamaestrini & Bitly by bitly
These two are the top of my list because everyone, especially teachers, need to start using URL shorteners right this instant. Have you ever had a print out in front of you with a 300 character link you were instructed to follow? Or maybe you’re tweeting an article or funny post and the link is long and ugly. Bitly and Goo.gl both provide the same function of truncating your long URL into something sleek and perfect for sharing. The extensions also come with Twitter and Facebook functionalities, allowing you to share the link from the extension’s drop down menu itself
Google Dictionary by Google
Instead of typing an unfamiliar word into Google Chrome’s search bar and waiting for its definition to come up, the Google Dictionary extension allows you to simply double click a word on the page you found it on and its definition and pronunciation will immediately pop up for your convenience!
Hey Girl by Katherine Champagne
Just in time for Valentine’s Day! This extension replaces every single photo you find on your browser with high definition photos of Ryan Gosling, whether it be on your Facebook newsfeed or in a serious New York Times article on Mexican drug cartels. Photos of America’s sweetheart eating lunch, kissing that girl from The Notebook, winking seductively through your browser screen at you… Sorry, what was I saying?
Shareaholic by Shareaholic
When installed, Shareaholic is a small dropdown list in the corner of your browser that contains a link shortener and all your favorite websites; with one click, you can share whatever it is you’re looking at—an article, a funny photo, a video, you name it—on any of your social networks! Shareaholic also comes with a bookmarking tool to keep all your favorite pages in place.
Feedly by Feedly
Back when I was first getting started on the Internet, RSS feeds were one of the most reliable ways to keep up with all of your favorite blogs in one place. One could simply add a simple code from different blogs and news sources and then all posts, updates, and new content would appear compiled in a single dashboard for you. Instead of checking The New York Times, John Green’s Blog, and Style Bubble separately, Feedly lets you see updates from any and all sources in one localized place. Feedly is made even better by its ability to follow Tumblr blogs, YouTube channels, forums, news sites and even more.
Panic Button by Thomas Greiner
It’s a unifying characteristic of our generation: there is almost nothing that gets our hearts racing like when someone comes up behind you and starts looking at your screen. Honestly, I could be researching Harriet Tubman and still feel paranoid and embarrassed about someone peering over my shoulder at my browser. Panic Button provides a quick and easy solution by placing a small red button at the corner of your address bar. One click and all your tabs disappear and the button turns green. After you feel comfortable browsing again, one more click will restore your tabs just as they were.
Ponify by Ben
Honestly, Ponify only has two functions. Firstly, it will replace words that make you uncomfortable, like expletives or references to sex, into words that you can deal with—from “damn” to “darn.” Secondly, Ponify will turn any webpage into an absolutely hilarious or horrifying read when you need a pick-me-up. Try replacing “sex” to “kids” and going through some Yahoo! Answers pages.
Be warned that Ponify initially comes with a list of “ponyisms,” namely words that include horse puns. If left uncustomized, Ponify will turn “America” into “amareica.” This is easily rectified.
Dictionary of Numbers by gchiacchieri
Try imagining how much money I mean when I say, “they called for a $21 billion budget cut.” It’s pretty hard to imagine what a single billion of something even looks like—let alone 21 of them. Dictionary of Numbers happily informs me that $21 billion [≈net worth of Larry Page, cofounder of Google].
Dictionary of Numbers describes itself as “putting numbers in human terms.” It adds a point of reference after any number you come across, lending some perspective to astronomical terms such as the percentage of US debt held by the public, $5 trillion [≈ net worth of all billionaires in 2011].