As Charnita covered a few days ago, Google Chrome (for Windows) has extension support and the floodgates have opened to new, interesting ways to extend the functionality of Google’s browser.
As a long-time Chrome user, this has been a very exciting time for me and I, as well as many others, have gone a bit crazy installing new extensions. Part of this is the excitement and part of this is because it is so easy to do, not even requiring a restart to add, deactivate or uninstall new extensions. Best of all, they don’t seem to impact the performance of Chrome.
Still, as a blogger, extensions are more than just fun toys, but also serious tools. As such, here are my top five Chrome extensions (to date).
Part of my day job as a copyright and plagiarism consultant is that I have to visit a lot of spam blogs and plagiarist sites, as such I don’t want to load their ads. Chrome, up until now, has not had a means to block unwanted ads short of using a proxy. Adthwart, however, puts a stop to it.
There’s not much to say about Adthwart other than it works and works well. It’s simple, effective and easy to switch on and off. It’s the most popular ad blocking extension for Chrome right now for a very good reason.
Alternative: Adblock – Largely the same, but more meant to be a follow up to AdBlockPlus on Firefox.
Link shorteners are nothing special for Chrome as you’ve long been able to use bookmarklets to add your favorite URL shortener to the browser. However, ChromeMuse lets you add all of them or at least very close.
ChromeMuse is simple, effective and lets you use a dozen URL shortening services, including most of the major names. It even lets you use your Bit.ly account if you are tracking your clicks through it. The only drawback is that it doesn’t have any Twitter integration at all, meaning all you can do is copy the generated link.
Still, it works well, works fast and can use almost any service you can think of.
Alternative: Goo.gl Shortener – Pretty much any service you can name has at least one extension for it, but since I’m using Goo.gl right now, this woiuld be my alternate pick.
Shareaholic does exactly what you might think. It allows you to share links with dozens of different services including blogging, social networking, social news, microblogging, etc. Nearly every service you can think of is in this application and it is easily customized to fit your needs.
In short, this extension is what you want it to be.
Granted, Shareaholic doesn’t seem to integrate neatly with many of these services, opting instead to direct you to the correct pages, but that is far from a terrible crime. It would also be a good replacement for ChromeMuse if it picked up some of the missing URL shorteners, especially Goog.ol and allowed you to connect to your Bit.ly account.
All in all, a very powerful, very customizable and very worthy extension for Chrome.
Alternative: Diigo Bookmarks – Simple, fast and effective but only works with Diigo and, through it, Delicious. Also, this extension lacks access to some of Diigo’s more powerful features. Despite that, fast and effective.
2. Google Mail Checker Plus
With literally dozens of Gmail extensions for Chrome, Google Mail Checker Plus (GMCP) stands out from the crowd by offering features others don’t, including the ability to preview, delete, archive or spam your unread mail without going into your inbox. It can also ensure mailto links open up in your Gmail account and, best of all for me, it works with Google Apps.
My one gripe would be that, at first glance, the settlings page is a bit overwhelming. Though it isn’t too bad once you take a moment, it can take a bit of work to make this extension really sing.
All in all, it is a great app that has enabled me to actually close and leave closed my Gmail tab.
Alternative: Google Mail Checker – With so many Gmail extensions already available, it’s hard to pick an alternative, so I went with the official and most popular one.
1. Chromed Bird
I won’t talk too much about Chromed Bird as Charnita covered it well in her article. It’s worth saying that is the most popular and probably the best all-around Twitter extension available for Chrome today.
It’s fast, light and relatively powerful. Though it could use additional features, such as list integration and searches, it has most of the critical tools including access to home, mentions and direct messages as well as the ability to reply, retweet and direct message users.
Alternative: Brizzly – Brizzly has the features Chromed Bird lacks but is both much more sluggish and has a more confusing interface.
If you’re a Chrome user and you aren’t using the developer’s version that enables extensions, you truly are missing out. There are so many great extensions out there and we are only really at the very beginning of the Chrome extension revolution.
Almost certainly, this top five list will need to be completely written in 6-12 months as new extensions come online and the industry around Chrome grows.
In short, it is a very exciting time to be a Chrome user. With easily the best extension experience I have ever had with a browser and so many new ones coming out every day, I can safely say I’ve never been happier with my browser.