Chrome Pig extension checks Gmail, takes screenshots -- and lets you set clipboard images as wallpaper!
In general, I prefer Chrome extensions which don't try to do too much. Do one thing, and do it well is a good general rule, after all. However, once in a while a Swiss-knife extension crops up which is filled to overflowing with useful features and just begs to be installed.
Enter Chrome Pig. Yes, it's weirdly named. Yes, it includes a somewhat random mish-mosh of features, but dang, are they handy ones. Chrome Pig can:
- Screenshot an entire page, the viewable portion, or a selected region
- Check Gmail for unread messages (you must be signed in)
- Open supported files types in the Google Docs previewer
- Edit a page's CSS to your liking
- Re-enable right click on sites which disable it
- Search the site you're currently browsing
- Open the current page in IE
- Set a clipboard image to your desktop wallpaper
I've put the last one in bold because it's a feature which you would think should be included by default in a Web browser. Firefox, Opera, and IE can all do this, but Chrome can't? Why? At any rate, problem solved! With Chrome Pig installed, just right click and copy an image, click its browser action button, and set the clipboard image to your wallpaper -- it will even resize, center, or tile.
Some of Chrome Pig's features -- lyric search, form fill, and translate, for example -- I can do without. The configuration page offers checkboxes to disable unwanted items, though they still appeared in the drop-down after multiple disable/enable attempt and a browser restart. Hopefully the developer will address this issue in a coming update.
That shortcoming aside, I'm happily adding Chrome Pig to my extensions -- it'll replace two other and add a couple additional features which will come in handy.
Chrome extensions with right-click context menus coming soon! And your chance to win a Chrome hoodie...
There's also a bunch of other new APIs, the most exciting being the Omnibox API. Imagine Chrome's built-in search engines (type 'Amazon', then a space, and then a book name -- it searches Amazon!), but with extension access. Type the name of an extension into the Omnibox, and then any further input is redirected to the extension. Actually, having said this is an exciting addition, I'm really not sure what an extension would do with it... Perhaps something Ubiquity-esque?
Oh, and if you make an extension (featuring the new APIs? It's not clear), let Google know and they might send you a free Chrome hoodie! Hooray.
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.
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.
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.
Spotify Chrome Extension is a bit of a misnomer. It's not an official extension, nor does it really utilize any of Spotify's functionality, but it is a whole lot more useful than any other Chrome extension out there. Once it's installed, you can select some text (an artist's name), hit the new Spotify button on your browser chrome and BOOM! you're rewarded with search results from Spotify's extensive music database. Click a result and the song starts playing in Spotify. Neat.
The problem is, you can only search by artist. You can't select the name of an album and search for that -- neither can you do the same for record labels. Also, there's no way to push the button and enter your own search string -- you're only given that option if a previous search returns no results.
So, it does one thing and it does it well; I just wish it did a bit more. It would be a few seconds' work to add album searching. But hey, perhaps I'm being a little unfair: the extension is brand new. I just hope the developer hasn't abandoned this neat little extension -- it has promise!
GooEdit offers a good array of tools. Images can be rotated, flipped, and cropped and color adjustment tools like brightness/contrast and histogram are included. A few effects are available, too, like grayscale, sepia, solarize, and invert. GooEdit can even add or remove noise, sharpen, or blur your selected image.
To launch the editor, simply hold down your alt key and click an image with your right mouse button. When you're all finished, click the disk icon to save and your handiwork is loaded in a new tab -- where you can right-click to save or copy it.
What GooEdit lacks are annotation features (like text and shape tools) and sharing options (though plenty of extensions can already handle this task for you). Hopefully those will be added in future, because they'd make GooEdit even more useful than it already is.
Hello! I'm back [at the turn of the tide...] To celebrate, here's a very neat Chrome extension that mimics (albeit a bit clumsily) Firefox's live bookmarks: Foxish live RSS.
If you've never used Firefox's live bookmarks, you're missing out! They're just like normal website bookmarks, but using the magic of RSS they update every few minutes. For the vast majority of Web users, a dedicated RSS reader is overkill -- with live bookmarks you can have the latest news (or Download Squad stories!) right there on your browser, always just one click away.
Foxish live RSS isn't without its quirks. It can't auto-discover a site's RSS feed, so you have to obtain it (either by viewing the source, or installing Google's own RSS extension) and then add it manually by right clicking the odd-looking Foxish icon. Also, once you've added the feed, you have to go into your Bookmarks Manager and drag the new 'folder' onto your bookmarks bar.
So, it's clunky but it works. You have to wonder when Google will simply bite the bullet add native, live bookmark functionality. Firefox has surely borrowed enough Chrome features... now it's time to return the favor!
While the built-in default is functional, you might be looking for a way to add some sizzle to your Google Chrome new tab page. Look no further than Start!, a recent addition in the Chrome Extensions Gallery.
Your frequently used bookmarks will appear on the right-hand side of the page, while the central portion is reserved for your recent additions and those in the "other" folder. Start! also supports adding an RSS feed to your display (yes, that's ours in my screenshot!).
The background image is customizable as well, and you can either provide the URL to your favorite image or cycle through the stock options -- or clear it if you prefer a blank canvas.
Start! is a very nice extension, but there is one bug I encountered. You're able to click and drag favicons to reorganize the right-hand panel, though I frequently received an alert that the move failed (even though it didn't). Sitting on the 'esc' key eventually clears all the pop-ups, however, so after your intial setup it's not likely to cause many issues. I also suspect that developer Ilkka Huotari will fix this in short order...
What makes it awesome? For starters, it can capture both the visible portion of a page or the entire thing -- and scrolling web pages aren't always support by capture tools. It's also got a nice built-in editor which provides all the functions I typically need when cleaning up a screenshot: crop, shape drawing tools, arrows, editable(!) text, and a blur tool for hiding sensitive information.
When you're finished editing, your image is presented on the page and you can save it locally via a right click or upload and share with the push of a button.
Here's my one gripe about the extension: the links it provides are gigantic. Like many tools which upload to pict.com, the URLs Awesome Screenshot spits out are way longer than, say, an imgur or yfrog link. That creates an extra step sometimes if you're pasting a link into apps which don't auto-truncate.
Hopefully future versions will offer a choice of image host -- if so, Awesome Screenshot will be even better than it already is. And it's already pretty dang good.
You may recall a couple of months ago when I falsely reported on what I thought was a new feature of Chrome. It was admittedly kind of neat: I thought websites could link themselves to a Chrome Extension, and pop up an alert at the top of your browser if you hadn't installed it.
For a technology blog, TNW displays disgustingly little foresight. This bar is, in effect, an updated phishing or rogue malware attack. You all know the type: that pop-up that claims to scan your hard disk for viruses but actually installs a bunch of Trojans.
Wouldn't it be easy to change the appearance of the bar so that it's obviously not part of the browser? How about making it pink, or changing the logo on the left to something distinctly un-Chromeish?
TNW has just opened a smelly kettle of fish -- and from now on, I suggest you all read your Chrome alerts carefully before clicking.