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.
During the press event in San Francisco, Google has announced the availability of Chrome to Phone extension.
What does it do?
Basically, it allows you to send currently selected text, links, maps, etc. from your Chrome web browser to any Android 2.2 devices.
Any way you look at it, Remoting is a very key component of Google's enterprise ambitions for Chrome OS (and the Chrome browser). It could very well allow inexpensive nettops, netbooks, and tablet devices running Chrome OS to easily interact with a business' existing enterprise apps.
As those devices inch closer to reality, Chrome OS code continues to mature and new features -- like Remoting -- begin to appear. You can see in the screenshot above that Remoting is now taking shape more visibly in Chromium. It's currently hidden behind the --enable-remoting flag, and the setup function under Chrome's wrench menu points to a page which is unavaiable.
It's a start, and it's certainly going to be interesting to watch Google's plans for Remoting unfold.
Google Chrome's sync features can be incredibly handy for those of use who run the browser on multiple computers. Every now and then, however, you may run into a problem. In my case, I had certain bookmarks which kept popping back up even though I'd previously deleted them.
Today I got an email from a reader, John, who was having a similar issue with his extensions. "Recently LastPass has found a way to stay in there, but all my other extensions are gone, no where to be found, not even at chrome://extensions," he wrote.
So, how does he fix this? I've tried a couple things in the past which seem to help.
- Sign out of Chrome Sync and sign back in. To do this, click the wrench menu icon and then click options. Once the window appears, click the Personal Stuff tab and press Stop syncing this account. Confirm by pressing Stop syncing.
This method will work best when you're not signed in to Chrome elsewhere -- so remember to close your browser on your secondary machine before you begin.
- Change your Google account password. Also recommended as a quick way to kill 3rd-party app access to your Twitter account, a quick change of your Google password will break sync and give you a chance to start fresh. This link should take you to the password change page, or you can visit your Google Dashboard.
This will prevent all your systems from re-syncing, regardless of whether or not you closed the browser first.
Full disclosure: AOL is indeed our benevolent overlord. However, Download Squad bloggers are under no obligation to speak kindly of their products or applications.
AOL Lifestream is an excellent app -- and it's certainly a far cry from the clunky, over-designed browser and dial-up software you used to see given away on floppy disks. Ahh, the good old days -- which are gone, and really weren't that great if you're comparing dial-up to DSL, cable, or fiber. Moving on!
Lifestream is a solid social networking aggregator. With support for key social sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Delicious, and now Foursquare, Lifestream presents a clean, simple way to keep tabs on all your friends' activity in one centralized location. While Lifestream might be a bit underpowered for social superstars, It's an excellent choice for average users -- as well as savvy users who don't need a more complex app.
Already available via the web and in the App Store, AOL has now added an extension for Google Chrome. While it's not going to transform Chrome into the super-social browsing experience that Flock 3 presents, the Lifestream extension is still a very handy way to keep your entire stream within easy reach without being distracted by it.
Let's start with my one gripe about the extension: it's slow to load. Pretty much every other Google Chrome extension I've tried out appears instantly after I click its icon. Lifestream, on the other hand, takes between three to five seconds to appear. That needs to be addressed -- users don't like to wait, and they don't like it when UI elements don't respond the way they want them to.
Beyond that, the Lifestream extension is pretty slick. Your stream is presented in a scrollable window with filtering and sharing options. You can post multi-network updates and share URLs, view trending topics, and view your account settings. Currently there's no support for files, so you can't share pictures or videos via the extension -- hopefully that will come later. Lifestream does allow you to comment on/reply to updates that appear in your stream, and retweeting is supported as well.
For users who are looking for a way to keep the conversation going on multiple networks and don't require some of the heavyweight features you find on apps like Seesmic Web, Lifestream is a good option -- I just hope they do something about the sluggish startup.
Two recent additions to the Chromium source code combine to function very much like FlashBlock does: per-plug-in content settings and click-to-play. Visit a page with the former enabled, and the latter allows you to click any element you want to display. Better still, you can whitelist an entire website. Simply click the puzzle piece in Chrome's Omnibar and the menu above is displayed. To try it out right now, you'll need to download a recent Chromium snapshot build and add two command line switches: --enable-resource-content-settings and --enable-click-to-play.
Why would you want to do this? Two big reasons are security and transfer caps.
While Chrome itself is a very secure browser, plug-ins (especially out-of-date ones) can pose a major security risk. By using click-to-play and manually whitelisting sites you trust, you're giving yourself a little added protection against nefarious types who use things like Flash to perform drive-by attacks on unwary surfers. And because blocking prevents the elements from downloading without your consent, click-to-play can also help you conserve bandwidth.
The FlashBlock extension currently has more than 160,000 users -- I'm curious to see if that number dwindles once this code makes its way into Chrome's beta and stable channels. It sure seems as though the enhanced content settings will make FlashBlock redundant.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments!
If you're obsessive about your Facebook friends and you always notice when your friend numbers go up or down, Facebook Friends Checker might be for you. It 's a Chrome extension which keeps track of your friends and periodically informs you when someone defriends you or deletes their account. You'll get an alert on top of your Facebook page, showing your lost friends and it'll stay there until you dismiss it.
Note that you won't see Friends Checker working immediately because it's not checking your friends list every second. Don't worry, though, I promise it works. There's also a Greasemonkey script, which will work on Firefox and Safari (with Greasekit), but I didn't have any luck getting it to work.
Good news -- you don't have to! Thanks to Hexxeh, you can now download buildbot snapshots of the plain-vanilla Chromium OS code. In case you missed out the first time around, Hexxeh is an ambitious young dev from England who rolled his own modified version of the Chrome OS code early on called Flow. It's still available for download, too, and likely due for an update soon as well.
The Vanilla builds he's offering are unmodified compiles of the Chromium OS source. You may have seen Google's buildbot site where they churn Chromium browser builds all day long -- Hexxeh has done the same thing for Chromium OS. He's gone the extra step of putting together some PHP and CSS to present things in a more attractive way.
- This image likely won't work in VMWare or VirtualBox. Converting the Chromium OS image to a format that will run in virtual environments requires running some extra commands post-compile
- You'll need a utility which can write the image file to your USB flash drive. Mac and Linux users can use dd in a terminal window. Windows users: download Win32 Disk Imager, it works extremely well.
There are actually LOADS of files in the archive you're downloading. The only one you probably care about is chromiumos_base_image.bin. The non-base image includes developer tools, code samples, and a few other things that you don't need if you're just going for a test drive.(Hexxeh has updated the Vanilla site to only display the .img file you're after. Nice!!)
- You may need an app which can handle .GZ archives to extract your download -- 7-Zip is a good choice.
- Not all hardware is going to work. The Chromium x86-generic images don't include a ton of drivers, so you may be missing one fairly important piece of the puzzle: wifi support. Most netbooks will work 100% -- full-sized laptops are more iffy.
- Performance from a USB flash drive is OK, but you will experience some sluggishness from time to time. If you happen to have a spare HDD or SSD you can image and use, go for it!
- When you first try to log in, the time may not be correct for your zone. If it's not, you won't be able to log in to your Google account. If that happens, click to browse without signing in, right-click the clock and change to your timezone, and wait for the time to adjust. Once it does, log out and log in with your own account.
- This is pre-beta stuff. Certain things don't work properly yet (like the media player) and when it does work you won't be able to play MP3s or most video formats. This is Chromium, not Chrome -- so licensed codecs aren't part of the package.
If you're still interested in taking spending a little quality time with it, download Chromium OS Vanilla, extract it, image it, and take it for a spin! Got a question? Want to share your thoughts? Head on over to our Facebook page!
As for AutoFill feature, NeoWin argues, whether it’s a good idea for Google to allow storing sensitive information, such as: credit card details.
You may download latest Google Chrome 6 release from the dev channel here.
Chrome Beta Updates with Extension Sync, Form Autofill (Including Credit Card Info), and More [Beta Beat]
Google has pushed more Chrome features from the dev channel over to beta today -- and you might not be particularly happy about one of them.
The unified menu which received a lot of heat from dev channel users has now been pushed. The change makes sense when you consider Google's commitment to keeping Chrome's interface as minimalist as possible, but it does mean that certain functions aren't located in the places users expect to find them (like the Extensions link).
Looking for the Google Chrome beta channel download? Why, it's right over here!
Last month, Google let people know that the pace at which they deploy builds of Chrome would be greatly increasing. The thought is that work is happening so quickly in Chrome but much of it is stuck in the developer channels (or in Chromium, the open-source browser on which Chrome is based) because of code freezes and long waits to deploy the stable versions — so why not just speed the whole process up? Google is wasting little time doing that as the latest version of Chrome, version 6, is being released into beta today.
So what do we get with Chrome 6? As users of Chromium and the dev channel builds of Chrome will know, the entire browser UI has gotten a facelift. The buttons (back, forwards, reload, etc) are now seamlessly integrated into the toolbar. The two menu drop-downs have also now been consolidated into one. And the Omnibox has also been tweaked to make it a bit simpler.
Here's one for the font nerds: there's a CSS declaration called optimizeLegibility that fixes kerning and ligatures in a lot of Web fonts. For the less design-savvy amongst us, that means it makes sure certain letter pairs are spaced properly and combined into special characters where appropriate. Designers don't always use optimizeLegibility, though, so it's time to take matters into your own hands with an extension for Safari or Chrome.
The extensions just insert an optimizeLegibility declaration into the CSS of any page, so they're super-lightweight and won't increase page load times at all. The Safari version is by Chris Morrell, and the Chrome version is by John Michel. Firefox users, don't worry: optimizeLegibility is on by default for text sizes 20px and larger.
Looking for a simple way to push websites from your desktop browser to your iPhone? If you're using Google Chrome (or Chromium), you might want to take a look at the Prowl extension.
You'll need to sign up on the official Prowl website first and generate an API key for yourself. Once you've got that, grab the extension and add your key in its options screen. After that, simply click the cat icon in your browser actions area to send a push notification to your iPhone of iPod touch via the Prowl app ($2.99 in the App Store). Prowl is a nice alternative for users who don't need to push items frequently -- if you do, you're probably better off with an app/extension combination like ReadItLater.
If you're not familiar with Prowl, you might be asking why it costs $2.99. It's actually a very powerful little app and can redirect notifications from a ton of other sources -- including Adium, Transmission, Google Voice, Twitter, Drupal, WordPress, and many others -- so it's well worth the price if you like being kept in-the-know while you're out.
It gets points for effort, but at this stage, TabSense definitely feels half-baked. Clicking the name of a tab doesn't actually activate it, but it detaches it from its current group (window). Dragging tabs from group to group does work, though, and it causes the tab to move between windows, which is pretty cool. The extension doesn't pop up a whole bunch of Chrome windows. Instead, you see only one window, and all of the others are hidden. That's nice, too.
There's a quick-search box in the top-right corner, which allows you to search tabs by name, and it does work (it highlights the tab that you're looking for). There are no thumbnails. Also, the groups are temporary and were not saved when I quit Chrome.
The main problem at the moment is with activating tabs; I was unable to actually show the tab that I tried to access. As I said, clicking it didn't work. But still, this alpha-grade extension shows some promise, even if it lacks most of Tab Candy's "wow" factor.
A handy tip from reader swc_oxcart for anyone giving Chrome Web Apps a try in the development version: right-click on a web app pinned tab, and you'll see a "Show toolbar" option. While Chrome's no-address-bar web apps are helpful in focusing on just one site, if you need to copy a URL or reach your extension buttons, this restores them to their standard place. [#tips] More »
Having a private browsing mode built in to your browser -- like Incognito in Google Chrome -- can be incredibly handy. I used it as a way to log in to multiple Gmail accounts prior to Google enabling that feature natively. It's useful for hiding local traces of your browsing activities, of course.
Once in a while, however, you (like me) may find yourself accidentally typing one of your Incognito-only URLs into a standard Chrome tab. It's an easy enough mistake to make when you've got multiple browser windows open and your focus is somewhat lacking.
Fortunately, however, it's also easy to prevent. The Autonito extension for Chrome allows you to create a list of sites which you only want opening in Incognito mode.
Type one of your chosen URLs, and Autonito stops the tab from loading and pops it out into a new Incognito window. The only thing lacking right now is wildcard support, but based on the number of requests on the Gallery page I suspect it will be added soon.