Make Your Browser Work For You with Extensions
As someone who’s job it is to be in front of a computer for a good portion of my day, I’m necessarily on the internet quite a bit, more often than not my browser is open with a multitude of active tabs. My browser is a gateway to an effort to stay on top of what the latest memes (how GREAT was the Harlem Shake?) are, researching a current project, Tweeting and Facebooking for 7Search, taking a look at the more interesting Google Alerts I’ve received, things like that.
I can’t emphasize the importance of the browser I use to accomplish all this. I’m using Google Chrome, which according to Google is, “a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier." I’d say that’s a pretty accurate description, but leaves out one important selling point. Google Chrome is VERY customizable with the ability to add extensions from the Chrome web store. If you use Firefox, extensions are very similar to the plug-in system Mozilla’s popular browser uses.
For all the computer jockeys/internet addicts out there, I’m sure Chrome Extensions are not a new revelation to you. However, I’m sure that there are some extensions out there that you don’t know about and would make life just a little bit easier if you did. I’m listing the ones I personally use and find to be useful when doing my job and making my internet browsing easier.
Hootsuite, if you haven’t heard of it already, is a Chrome “app” that aggregates multiple social media accounts into one very easy to interpret dashboard. You can also post to your different networks from the centralized dashboard. My favorite part has to be Hootsuite’s Hootlet. Whenever I’m on a page I think is worth sharing, I click on the little owl and a dialog box pops up with the name of the article/video/picture and a link to the content already shortened for my convenience. It’s made posting and sharing an absolute breeze!
HoverZoom does exactly what it sounds like. When I come across an image link on Twitter, or Facebook Images (or really most any image links, anywhere, including .GIFs) instead of having to go through the laborious process of clicking the link to see the image, when I hover my mouse cursor above the link, the full image will pop up above the link saving me from having to click through to see the picture. I can’t stress the convenience of using this every single day. The fact that this extension is constantly updated to work better is just icing.
StayFocusd is an extension I have a love/hate relationship with. The internet is great, it’s literally limitless information and connectivity. A major downside to all this is that it’s very easy to get distracted. Things like blogs, Facebook, RSS feeds and Wikipedia can really become wormholes that throw you off track and off schedule.
StayFocusd works by letting you allot a certain amount of time you can spend on a website, once that time is up, the site is blocked for the rest of the day. This has really helped my workflow. For example, I’ll give myself an hour max on Twitter, and then through the course of a day, I’ll log into Twitter once an hour for about 5 minutes to quickly check and see if I’ve missed anything important (I’ve usually never missed anything). By the end of the day I usually have time left over because I’m so conscious of the limitation. It really is very helpful for the procrastination prone.
Lazarus Form Recovery
Lazarus is an extension I discovered when it was too late. Now that it’s in my life, I can fearlessly tackle long, daunting forms unafraid of a crash or bug or timeout that could throw me off and make me start right at the beginning. If you’ve ever filled out a long form on a website and lost that information due to a mis-click or some other type of interference, Lazarus will make sure that doesn’t happen to you again.
If the worst ever does happen, Lazarus saves everything you’ve typed and you can recover the whole thing at a click of a button. Very useful and I highly recommend adding this to your arsenal.
Summer is probably my favorite extension of the bunch. Summer will scan any web page you’re on and provide an overlay of information that is in its database. This comes in handy when I’m on Tech Crunch or Hacker News and have no idea who the person the article is discussing and why they are significant.
What Summer does is put blue parentheses around names and places that the extension recognizes. Click on the name in parentheses and a tab opens up on the side of your browser (while you’re still on the article page) which provides you with a summary of the person or place, related photos, and even a direct look at associated public Twitter and Instagram feeds. Summer is incredibly useful and I’m always learning new things because I have it installed. Be careful though, it can also become a portal to procrastination, it’s like having Wikipedia with me on every page I visit.
Pocket, this is the last extension you need to fuel your internet addiction, in the classiest way possible of course. Sometimes I have so many tabs open and so many things I want to read that I don’t have enough time to read it all. That’s where Pocket comes in. When I come across an article that’s too long to read right then, I’ll click on the Pocket icon and it gets saved to the cloud in a readable format that is accessible on my phone(a corresponding app needs to be installed for this), whether I have internet or not. I use the button indiscriminately and it’s always worth it. Especially if I find myself on a train somewhere with no internet connectivity, there’s enough content in my Pocket (what a great name?) to keep my occupied and entertained for hours.
That’s my choice selection for this post. I’ve left a few off the list, such as the more common screenshot grabbers and Google +1 buttons and Gmail checkers. A couple notable ones I use from time to time but won’t dive in-depth into are Evernote and Rapportive.
Do you know of any awesome extensions that need to be shared? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Google+!