TL;DR version: In this post I share the extensions I use with Google Chrome on the Mac & PC. I also provide some troubleshooting advice.
In issue #9 of the TL;DR newsletter, I shared a link that indicated the “must have Chrome apps” as you start the new school year. This list was important as I have been migrating from one MacBook Pro to another as I change institutions. As I’ve been setting up another computer, it’s an opportunity to clean out old apps and content you don’t use. It’s also an opportunity to recognize the changes in the tools that you continue to use.
One app that I use every day is Google Chrome. Chrome is my browser of choice on computers, tablets, and mobile devices. I recommend installing Chrome on your Mac, PC, Android device, and iPad/iPhone. This helps me to work online, in the cloud, and across devices.
Chrome sync across devices
After you install Chrome, I sign in across all devices using my Google Account. This means that everything I do on one installation of Chrome automatically shows up on the other devices. If you bookmark websites, it’ll show up on the other places you work online. Start reading a webpage on the train on your iPad and then want to finish reading the page at work on your Mac? No problem. Chrome can pick up where you left off and show you the history across all devices.
After you sign in to Google on Chrome, it will quickly sync all of your content across installations. You can check on what it’s saving, and modify settings…or delete this info by typing chrome://settings/ in your browser up in the URL address bar. This is where you type in the address for websites you want to visit. You can check out the animated GIF below to see me check my settings. (click on the animation below to enlarge)
After having developed and taught in a “bring your own browser” (BYOB) program, I started using a Chromebook full time. This made me stop using Microsoft Office and start using Evernote and Google Docs for writing. I even use Evernote to bookmark websites and rarely save them in the browser. The trick is finding apps and extensions on Chrome that will suit your needs.
Extensions are “mini-programs” or apps that run in the browser. They are very similar to the add-ons that can be used with the Firefox browser. In searching for Chrome Extensions, you’ll often see “apps” mixed into the search with the extensions. The apps run pretty much the same way as the extensions.
Installing a Chrome Extension is very easy. In the links that I share below, or by searching the Chrome Web Store, you can click on the blue button to “add to Chrome.”
All of the Google Apps extensions. Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, Google Forms, and Google Drive. These don’t really need to be installed as extensions to use them, but I like having the quick link to access them.
Adblock Plus. Blocks ads on pages and YouTube videos.
Bitly. If you share a lot of links with others, this great tool allows you to use custom short URLs, and see if people are clicking on the links you share.
Chrome Remote Desktop. I use this app all of the time to log in to my home computer, or do tech support for others from remote locations.
Data Saver. Not terribly important if you’ve got a good Internet connection. If you’re tethering, or trying to restirct your bandwidth..a lifesaver.
Draftback. Awesome app for Google Docs that allows you to play back the revisions while writing. Totally awesome…way better than revision history.
Earth View from Google Earth. This is the “new tab page” that I always come back to. Tons of beautiful images of Earth everytime you start a new page.
Evernote Web Clipper. The first thing I install on a new computer and device is Evernote and the web clipper. Evernote is my online Trapper Keeper. 🙂
Google Calendar. This places a button on your Chrome frame that allows you to see your next appointment and check the calendar quickly.
Google Scholar Button. Not perfect. But…it’s making Scholar a bit easier to use.
Grammarly. A useful service that watches your writing and nags you if you’re using commas, incorrectly, and other things. 🙂
Hypothes.is. A great tool for socially annotating the web.
Lazarus. This needs to be installed now. It basically brings you back from the dead when you accidentally delete a form you’re filling out.
Project Naptha. Another mandatory install. This strips text from images and infographics.
Uninstall Chrome Extensions
I regularly test out new extensions and see if they’ll provide me any value. I also keep an eye out to see if they’ll hijack my computer or browser. This means that they’ll constantly redirect you to other sites, or worse. If you think something weird is happening, you’ll need to manage your extensions.
Type chrome://extensions/ into your browser. This will give you a list of all of the extensions and apps you’re using. You can turn off the extensions by clicking on the checkbox that is labeled “Enabled.” If you’re troubleshooting, turn off all of your extensions…and start to re-enable them one by one to see what the problem might be. Delete the troublemaker, or unused extensions by clicking the trashcan.
I hope that helps you get up and running with Chrome. In future posts, I’ll discuss the apps I use on Android and the iPad to get work done. Please share in the comments the extensions that you use.
Cover photo by stshank http://flickr.com/photos/shankrad/6996250771 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license