You just don’t understand how terrible a web browser Internet Explorer 8 is (sorry, Microsoft) until you get around to trying one of the other popular browsers out there right now.
I faithfully stuck to Internet Explorer for years (from version two; no joke). I dismissed other browsers, such as Netscape (didn’t like the annoying bevel on its toolbar buttons, so sue me), Firefox (felt like the hipster of web browsers), Opera (it was just terrible up to version 9.5) and Safari (far too unstable in my tests). But when it took me twelve seconds to open a new tab in Internet Explorer and I felt like stabbing myself in the eye with an unripe banana, I knew it was time for a change.
I installed Google Chrome, tried it out for half an hour, and then never looked back. I could go on about how stable, fast and awesome it is, but this isn’t a browser review. Instead, I’d like to tell you about some extensions (add-ons, if you will) for Chrome that make browsing the web a faster, more efficient and enjoyable experience for me. So, without further ado… My top ten Google Chrome extensions that let me surf like a ninja, in no particular order.
1. Facebook for Google Chrome (download)
This extension installs a little Facebook icon next to your address bar that shows a number when you have unread notifications. You can then click the icon to post a status update, or get quick access to your news feed, wall, notifications and inbox. If you’re an avid Facebook user and you use Chrome, then you need this extension.
2. Google Mail Checker (download)
This extension is similar to the Facebook extension, except that it tells you how many unread messages you have in your Gmail inbox. Clicking its icon next to your address bar will open your Gmail account. Like a boss (don’t ask; I just wanted to put that phrase somewhere in this blog post).
3. Google Translator (download)
I have multi-lingual friends who sometimes post status updates in other languages. After weeks of tabbing between Facebook and Google Translate, I discovered this extension. Click the button beside your address bar, and use Google Translate inside a convenient popup without having to open the web site. Holy useful, Batman.
4. SearchPreview for Google (download)
This extension adds a preview thumbnail beside each result when you do a Google search. Even if you don’t consider this particularly useful, it does make your search results look rad. And after using this extension for a while, seeing a Google search results page in someone else’s browser without the thumbnails looks extremely weird.
5. Google Quick Scroll (download)
Have you ever clicked a Google search result, only to have to scroll through pages of text looking for the information relevant to your search terms? You need this extension. When you do a Google search and open one of the pages from the results, a small popup spawns in the lower-right corner of your browser with direct links to the content on the page that has to do with what you searched for. This saves me precious minutes every single day.
6. Wikipedia Companion – Mini Wiki Browser (download)
I love this extension. It makes my inner Wikipedia whore very, very happy. I read an average of 4,238 Wiki articles per day, and most of the time it’s for quick information on something I’ve just heard or read about. With this extension, I don’t even have to open the Wikipedia web site or do a Google search. I just open the popup from my address bar, type my search terms, and read the Wiki. It even collapses the subheadings to reduce initial clutter, making it easy to find specific information (like artist discographies!).
7. Fast Youtube Search (download)
This is a very simple extension that places a Youtube button next to your address bar. Click the button, type your search terms, and it opens your Youtube search results in a new tab. Another useful function to have if you constantly find yourself looking for specific videos on Youtube throughout the day.
8. Dionysus (download)
If you’ve ever visited a web site that had embedded music that you really wanted to download, and aren’t comfortable looking in your browser’s cache for it, this extension may help. When it detects MP3 or OGG music embedded in a page, it displays a little icon inside your address bar that lists all such files, and gives you links to download them.
If you ever download files from file sharing services such as RapidShare, MegaUpload or DepositFiles, you’ve no doubt shared my pain when you clicked on a download link, only to find that it was broken, or had been removed by the service. Chrome Link Checker will automatically highlight any such download links on a page, making them easy to pick out. It’ll highlight broken links in red, and good links in green, so that you know which ones not to bother with. Brilliant.
RapidShare Link Validator goes a step further and gives you an icon inside your address bar whenever a page contains RapidShare links. The icon will be red if none of the links work, yellow if some of them work, and green if all of them are valid. This extension works only for RapidShare links, but is still quite useful, especially when paired with Chrome Link Checker.
10. Mini Google Maps (download)
The Mini Google Maps extension isn’t as functional as opening Google Maps in a full browser tab, but having a map in a little popup window that loads instantly is cool, nonetheless. And it does serve a purpose if you need to check a map really quickly without the need for fancy stuff like driving directions. Either way, it makes my list.
Questions? Comments? I’m always glad to find new useful extensions, so if you have any that you enjoy using, I’ll trade pink coconuts for them.5 people have commented. What do you think?