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Google's Chrome adds sharp extensions
Dec 21, 2009 11:33AM
Much as I love the powerful minimalism of Google's Chrome Web browser, I really love the customizing power of Mozilla's Firefox. That's because Firefox is a tinkerer's delight with its many add-ons that let you personalize the browser to meet your many needs.
Well, Google has finally opened up Chrome to the wide world of extensions. And some of those add-ons are downright foxy.
At press time, Chrome had more than 800 extensions to beef up the browser. The extensions typically show up as icons next to Chrome's address bar and are easy enough to delete or disable if you wish to preserve that classic Chrome look and feel.
To use Chrome extensions, you must download the latest beta version of Chrome for Windows or Linux (Mac is coming soon) at google.com/chrome. Then head to chrome.google.com/ extensions for hundreds of free add-ons to dress it up.
Here are seven great Chrome extensions to get you started.
Google Apps Shortcuts
This add-on gives you fast access to Google applications such as Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs. The extension opens each in a new tab; it also opens a new tab so you can quickly create e-mail, a document, etc. If you just want Gmail access, try Google Mail Checker.
Tabs at the top of the Chrome browser get tougher to sort through the more tabs you open. With Tab Menu you get a vertical list of all your tabs as well as a search box for easier tab navigation. Tab Menu also lets you close tabs with close buttons and drag-and-drop tabs to rearrange them.
I love how StumbleUpon lets you discover Web sites that match your interests. Now Chrome users can get in on the channel-surfing Web fun with more than 500 topics to explore.
Picnik Extension for Chrome
Like a Web-site image? The Picnik Extension for Chrome lets you snag it and send it with ease. Click the Picnik icon after a page loads and you'll get a thumbnail list of its images. (You can also send a snapshot of what's visible in the browser window to Picnik.) Click a thumbnail, and it opens that image in Picnik to edit, annotate and share.
Think of Feedly as your iGoogle page without the pretty theme but with a magazinelike look to organize your favorite content. Feedly integrates with Google Reader, Twitter, YouTube and other sites.
Web of Trust warns you if a site has a reputation for spam, malware or other dangerous/inappropriate activity. Just click the WOT extension icon for a site's ratings. Sites with a red circle are the most risky while those with a green circle are most safe. WOT also works with search results from Google and Bing, as well as e-mail services such as Gmail and Yahoo! Mail.
This tough little Twitter extension lets you compose and compile tweets as well as access your Twitter profile, mentions, lists and saved searches. Even better, Brizzly displays the content of shortened URLs right in your post stream — be it the full link that got shortened or the full video or image so you can look before you click.