It's just about that time of year again -- time for millions of students to put their noses to the grindstone and head back to school for another year of academic excitement!
Few learning tools are as versatile as your trusty laptop or desktop computer -- and your Web browser is likely one of the most-used programs on it. If Google Chrome is your browser of choice, there are loads of useful add-on enhancements in the Extensions Gallery which can turn Chrome into a powerful tool for staying focused and productive while tackling your coursework.
Take the jump and have a look at thirteen Chrome extensions I've found useful... and be sure to share your own picks in the comments!
Clip to Evernote
Evernote is a fantastic research and productivity tool -- and it's made even better when you plug the Chrome extension into your browser. Clip, tag, and describe just about any content you stumble across as you browse and retrieve it later from the Evernote desktop app or the equally handy (and far more pocketable) mobile version.
Sure, you can just open another tab or window when you want to look up something on Wikipedia, but you don't have to. The Wikipedia Companion extension lets you do it in a pop-up without having to leave the page you're currently browsing. It's very useful for doing things like looking up some background info about Peter Forsberg while you're browsing TSN instead of finishing an important blog post.
Ultimate Google Docs Viewer
Recent versions of Chrome have a built-in viewer for PDF documents, but the Google Docs Previewer can also handle Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files. Ultimate Docs Viewer keeps an eye out for supported files and zips you over to the online previewer for a fast, lightweight to peruse them.
Want a single extension which adds a whole slew of efficiency-boosting features to Chrome? Check out FastestChrome. It provides useful enhancements like auto-loading the next page in multi-page articles, "linkifying" plain-text URLs, providing pop-up definitions for words you highlight, adding related articles to Wikipedia pages, and a whole lot more. There's a good reason more than 300,000 Chrome users have the FastestChrome extension installed: it's pretty dang useful.
Postponer Adder and Manager
Postponer is a pair of unofficial ReadItLater extensions for Google Chrome. The adder allows you to submit new URLs to your ReadItLater queue while the manager provides a searchable, sortable pop-up display of both unread and read items. It's a nice way to stash pages you want or need to read when you're short on time.
ChromeMilk / Unofficial Google Tasks / ToodleChrome
Google Tasks, Remember the Milk, and Toodledo are all excellent task management apps. Whichever you choose to help you get things done, there's a Chrome extension which helps you stay on top of your tasks while you browse.
If you use Google Calendar to keep your schedule in order, DayHiker deserves a spot in your browser. It provides a slick heads-up display of your upcoming appointments. DayHiker can also display your Google Tasks, has a handy pop-out alarm clock function, and it works with both standard Google accounts as well as Apps accounts.
Staying on task isn't always an easy thing -- especially in your Web browser, where there are so many awesome sites out there where you could be enjoying yourself while you slack off. StayFocusd is here to help! Add sites to your block list and set up time restrictions and StayFocusd will make sure you don't fritter away more than your allotted amount for the day. Once the timer hits your magic number, the site is blocked until the following day.
As stable as Google Chrome might be, there's always the chance you might be victimized by an untimely browser crash. If one happens while you're filling out a form, it's a pain in the butt to have to start from scratch after you re-launch Chrome. That's where Lazarus comes in -- it keeps tabs on forms while you fill them out and saves the data temporarily. If Chrome should happen to crash, Lazarus pops your previously entered data back in. It can be a real frustration preventer.
After the Deadline
Chrome has a built-in spellchecker, but you can bolt on a full-featured virtual proofreader by installing After the Deadline. ATD checks for grammar, syntax, and even common stylistic mistakes and it works just about anywhere you can type in some text (even things like Facebook wall posts). ATD is like having your own private proofreader/editor right inside Google Chrome.