Google Chrome offered so much promise at the start and for a while it was running circles around its closest competitor, Firefox. The last few months has seen the two browsers locked in a battle for second spot and this has largely happened as a result of the chunkiness associated with Google Chrome. Somehow Google gave way to the temptation of its competitors and started fiddling with the architecture that made Chrome—for a time—the fastest web browser on the market.
Chrome loyalists need not worry too much or even worse, uninstall. There are a plethora of extensions that now adorn Google Chrome and which help it reclaim some of its past glory as a zippy piece of kit for web browsing. We’ll be taking a look at the top 10 of these extensions; each comes with functionality that either makes Chrome faster or gives the user an additional capability that just makes using the web easier.
If you are fed up with slow loading pages and lag when you are on YouTube then FastestChrome is the solution you need. Developed by the same people who created FastestFox, this extension speeds up web searches as well as load times of individual pages. It also offers some nifty tools for enhancing web results like the highlight text feature which allows for lateral searches on a page. It also provides a richer search results page and will include related links and content from a range of sites including Amazon and Wikipedia. Another handy functionality that helps make the search and loading process faster, is the ability of FastestChrome to load results automatically. Simply scroll and results beyond the first 10 pages will load on the fly.
#2 IE Tab
Internet Explorer controls more than 50% of the web browser market and so naturally many web developers build their websites with this fact in mind. The result is that some web pages you visit may be optimized for an Internet Explorer and nothing else. This makes the browsing experience terrible if you are using a browser like Google Chrome but thanks to IE Tab this can easily be remedied. IE Tab works by creating a virtual browser inside Chrome which adds all the native Internet Explorer capabilities needed to make the browsing experience consistent with how standalone Internet Explorer installations work. It means then that sites and applications like Outlook Web Access will work seamlessly in Chrome.
#3 Session Manager
Google Chrome’s browser cache does a good job of keeping frequently used data ready for fast access but in the last couple of years Chrome has underperformed in this area. Session Manager fixes this problem by allowing you store a web page as is without need for logging and or anything like that. All you have to do to activate this feature for a particular page or pages is to click the icon which sits handily on the toolbar; from there Session Manager will take a snapshot of the page and store it for later viewing. What’s so powerful with this extension is that it doesn’t matter if you need a login to access the page, provided you’ve got admin access to the content, Session Manager will save the content of the page and give you access next time without the need to validate your credentials all over again.
That take care of Chrome’s speed, let’s explore a few extensions that can help you speed up ordinary everyday tasks thus making you more efficient.
#4 Docs Viewer
The web is fast becoming a place of more than just HTML code and today entire content delivery systems online are based entirely on documents. Content providers are increasingly using the PDF document format to deliver information and unfortunately Chrome doesn’t always handle this sort of thing very well. There are lots of PDF platforms that seek to help web browsers handle the complex task of first recognizing the PDF format and the rendering the document for online viewing. A few works well, but most have teething problems which is why Docs Viewer is a handy alternative.
The extension allows for the seamless transfer of document files for viewing on Google Docs. So, if you need to view a PDF document online, Docs Viewer does all the heavy lifting by transferring the document inside Google Docs where it can be opened and viewed without too much hassle. And you don’t have to worry about transfer time either because Docs Viewer does it almost instantaneously—the only limitation is your internet connection or processing power of your computer. There’s also support for other document formats including PowerPoint by Microsoft.
#5 Google Preview
This extension adds a nice thumbnail image to the left of any Google search result, giving you a quick heads up on what’s over at the website. It is very helpful in identifying pages that you haven’t bookmarked because sometimes we forget that we’ve visited a particular page. Google Preview is also very helpful in vetting the qualitative aspect of a site’s content; very helpful when you are trying to avoid the underbelly of the internet.
Advertising doesn’t have to be an unhealthy part of the web browsing experience but some advertisers can’t seem to help themselves. Popups, pop-unders, slide-ins you name it, sometimes it can become overwhelming and this takes away from the content. There are several plugins that help you manage the ads on a website but few do a good a job as Adblock. The Chrome extension will automatically block obtrusive ads from appearing on most pages that you visit and will also help you get rid of pesky videos that load on first visit—everybody hates those.
#7 Send From Gmail
Ever needed to share a document or link found a website and having to clog up your memory by loading Microsoft Outlook or Thunderbird? If you’ve had the sometimes annoying experience then worry no more, Send From Gmail takes care of this dynamic sharing process by allowing for one-click access to your Gmail account. Once clicked, the fields are populated and all you have to do is type the name or names of the recipients—Send From Gmail will handle it all from that point. This extension will give you more time to do the things you love about your browsing experience without the need to stop and configure an email inside an email client—a must-have.
#8 Google Mail Checker
Gmail is the standard now for free web-based email but Gmail doesn’t offer much by way of instant notifications. Unless you are running your Gmail account through a client like Outlook, you often don’t the on-demand alerts you need in order to stay on top of a clean inbox. Google Mail Checker is a handy Chrome extension that takes care of this for you. Sitting neatly on your toolbar, this extension will provide an alert each time a new mail comes in. Once glance and you can see how many unread messages you have in your inbox.
RSS feeds aren’t dead but the way in which they are managed hasn’t really changed much over the years. Long before Chrome and Google reader came on the scene RSS feeds provided a way to keep track of your favorite content, unfortunately many of today’s feed readers (including Google Reader) doesn’t do a god job of organizing RSS content. Feedly takes this complex process and achieves sorting nirvana. Install the extension, import your feeds and Feedly goes to work organizing and tagging your feeds. But that’s not the best part; unlike other feed readers, Feedly displays your favorite RSS subscriptions in a nice magazine layout. Not only is this more visually appealing, it helps you to locate content much, much faster.
#10 Banish Auto-play YouTube Videos
Google owns Chrome and it also own YouTube. This arrangement means that Google tends to what it wants regarding how the two properties interact and one such abuse of ownership is the auto-playing of YouTube videos. Few people like this fact but despite this Google has continued with this setup in every single release of Chrome. Thanks to the handy extension called Stop Auto-play for YouTube, you can regain control over your YouTube viewing experience. Once installed the extension will take care of every video loaded, ensuring that each video only plays when you want it to.
These 10 Chrome extensions should be a part of your arsenal going forward. Each is 100% free and the developer for each makes sure that each new update of Chrome gets an update of the extension. They are also very secure; to date none of the recommended extensions have had any security vulnerabilities exposed and so this is as solid a reason as any for going to the extensions marketplace and downloading them. Where you find alternatives to any of the ones recommended above don’t hesitate to use those instead. Just drop by here and let us know in the comments which ones you find are better. This will help other readers to make sound decisions about their chrome extensions.
Have we missed your favorite extension for making Chrome faster? Let us know using the comments below.