This article is only intended for users running the Google Chrome operating system.
The rapidly rising popularity of Google Chromebooks can be attributed to a number of factors, including their relatively low costs and lightweight physical footprint. Although laptops running Chrome OS are considered less capable in some areas when compared to their Windows and Mac counterparts, your Chromebook can be transformed into a virtual powerhouse with the addition of browser extensions -- all available free of charge from the Chrome Web Store.
It should be noted that some of these extensions cannot completely co-exist with each other on the same Chromebook. For example, if you install two extensions that both modify Chrome's New Tab page, one is going to override the other.
While many users, and especially content owners, have mixed feelings about ad blockers_ the fact remains that they rank among some of the more popular apps and extensions. Adblock for YouTube is no exception, as it stifles the majority of pre-video ads from appearing altogether on your Chromebook's browser. With over 2 million users and counting, this oft-updated extension simply does the trick without the need for any manual intervention whatsoever.
While not as popular as it once was in terms of overall traffic market share, the fact remains that adult content still accounts for a significant portion of the Web's content. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on who you ask, it's not that hard to find pornography via a simple Google search. This can prove problematic, especially if children have access to your Chromebook. The Anti-Porn Pro extension utilizes server-based content filtering to block websites, search results and other content that it deems inappropriate. It does not catch all adult-related content, as I've seen some slip through the cracks_ especially in search results. However, it does a good job for the most part and I recommend it if you have Chromebook users who should not be exposed to such images and videos.
The Buffer extension provides the ability to share links to the current website as well as other updates on both Facebook and Twitter, adding these updates to a queue to be published at a later time_ hence the moniker. Not only can you schedule these tweets and posts with Buffer, the extension also analyzes your social activity and offers statistics such as number of retweets, clicks, FB likes, and more_ all within the Chrome browser.
There's a reason why Checker Plus has almost a million users at the time of publication, it is the perfect Gmail companion for the Chrome browser. With a feature set too plentiful to list everything here, this extension can display multiple notification types and new emails right within the current tab_ allowing you to easily read, reply or delete them without leaving the website you're currently viewing. Audio alerts can also be configured, as well as an option for Chrome to read your email contents out loud via text to speech. As if this weren't enough, Checker Plus provides support for multiple Gmail accounts simultaneously -- ensuring that you never miss an important notice or email while surfing the Web on your Chromebook.
Mouse gestures, which are sometimes broken down into sub-categories such as rocker and wheel gestures, let you perform virtually any action with the browser with a movement or click of the mouse_ or a combination of the two. Whether it be refreshing the current site, moving to another tab, scrolling to the bottom or top of the page, or a number of other common and not-so-common actions, the crxMouse extension provides the ability to perform them with quick and easy gestures.
The Currently extension replaces Chrome's New Tab page with a customizable screen containing the date, time and current weather conditions in your area. It is somewhat customizable in terms of units of measurement and the option to choose between Fahrenheit or Celsius, and also lets you switch between multiple themes_ although not all of them are free. For example one of the more popular themes, Starry Night, is available for $1.99.
Google's home page has always been known for its simplicity, with a clean interface and a white background. Although there's something to be said for this lack of adornment, not everyone appreciates the plain look. The Custom Google Background extension lets you apply a new coat of paint to the iconic page, adding one of your own personal image files or one of thousands of images found on the Web as your new Google home page background. It also provides the ability to scale and position the image, hide a number of home page components and modify the background color altogether.
One of the simpler extensions to make the cut, Downloads is the perfect example of a developer setting out to accomplish a single task and then achieving that goal. There are no bells and whistles here, just a button added to the Chrome browser that opens a list of your downloaded files in a new tab. Forget about using the Chrome menu or the CTRL+J shortcut, just click on the Downloads button and voila.
The Evernote service allows you to maintain your own virtual workspace containing notes, lists, photos, articles, and other documents all in one centralized location. The Evernote Web Clipper extension lets you easily clip these articles, images and other Web page content from right within your Chromebook browser_ saving them to your Evernote workspace or sharing them with other users in an instant via the Work Chat feature. You can also post these clips directly to your social media accounts such as Facebook or Twitter.
If you've got a lot of Facebook friends, sharing a Page with all of them or inviting the entire group to an event can be a daunting task_ so much so that you may have just given up on it altogether. The Facebook Invite All extension lets you include each one of your friends on an invitation by clicking on a check mark conveniently located within Chrome's Omnibox.