Essential Google Chrome Extensions

By Tracey Dowdy

If I used my elliptical as often as I use Google, I’d be writing this from the Olympic training center as I gear up for Rio 2016.

Until recently, I hadn’t used many Google extensions – I’m a creature of habit and I like the routine and the ease of the familiar. Then I discovered StayFocusd, a Google extension that limits the amount of time you can waste online.

As someone who works from home and has the attention span of a toddler jacked up on Pixy Sticks, StayFocusd is a game changer. Once installed, users can customize the settings “to block or allow entire sites, specific subdomains, specific paths, specific pages, even specific in-page content (videos, games, images, forms, etc.).” You can set a limit on how much time you can afford to waste and once it’s used up, you have no choice but to get on and do your job. Guys, it’s like having your very own grown-up in charge.

I realize most of you won’t need a productivity app, but there are a ton of other great extensions in the Chrome Web Store that are worth checking out.

Honey automatically finds and applies coupon codes to online purchases when you click on the Honey button during check out. Currently it supports shopping sites in the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom and India, as well as sites that serve global customers.

Evernote Web Clipper allows you to swap your bookmarks and save important webpages directly to Evernote. Send the page to specific notebooks, highlight information, share, email, or create URL’s for pages, and choose whether to save the original page, just a selection, or a simplified version of the entire page.

The Facebook extension allows you to post directly to your timeline without having to open Facebook. You can comment, Like, see news, updates, notifications and birthdays all from your Chrome toolbar.

LastPass means you only have to remember one password ever again. Well, maybe not ever again, but it will manage all your online usernames and passwords and give you secure access across devices. It also provides secure checkout if you include a credit card, allows you to upload documents, images and audio. A note: Though LastPass recommends but doesn’t require strong passwords, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of choosing something better than “password” or your birthday. As the knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade says, “choose wisely.”

Awesome Screenshot allows you to grab a screen capture of all or part of a webpage, annotate the image, blur sensitive or private images and data, and share with a single click.

Lazarus: Form Recovery is the best thing to happen to the Internet since Hamster on a Piano. Lazarus saves all the text you type which makes it invaluable if you’re filling out forms online or god-forbid the site crashes or times out. It has saved my sanity more than once while filling out student loan applications and filing taxes.

MagicActions transforms your laptop, tablet or phone screen into a cinema experience when you watch videos on YouTube. It automatically changes video to HD, blocks ads and hides comments, offers ratings previews, allows you to take a photo from the video with one click and much, much more.

NEnhancer is the perfect add on for scrolling through Netflix, as it pulls the IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes ratings into your Netflix account. You can also install a popout player so the Netflix screen always stays on top, which then allows you to toggle to other sites while you watch your video.

These are some of my favorites. Which extensions can you not live without?

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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