Firefox/Chrome: The Lightning Reveal extension for Google Chrome reveals what lies behind Amazon's Lightning Deals before they're live on Amazon.
Chromium's wrench menu now displays how many background Web apps are currently running in your browser (or browser-OS, if you're using Chrome OS). Clicking view background apps will bring the Chrome task manager into view, where the CPU, memory, and network utilized by your Background Apps and Extensions is displayed.
Chrome Web apps, of course, will be very similar to the extensions you can currently install from the Gallery. Similar enough, in fact, that many popular extensions will require only a minor tweak to their manifest files to "evolve" into apps. They'll have access to additional APIs and have different permission options, however, which will allow Chrome Web apps to go beyond current extension functionality.
Who doesn't love pop-ups? Really, I mean, it has to be the world's most effective and well-respected mode of advertising. You're browsing along, reading something on the Web, and suddenly your screen explodes with color and NSFW video clips. Seriously, how can you not enjoy that?
If you're one of the odd few who aren't enthusiastic about pop-ups, you might appreciate Better Pop Up Blocker. While Chrome already features some pop-up blocking measures, they're not very serious. Even when you add the popular AdBlock extension, Chrome's blocking abilities still leave something to be desired. This point is made quite convincingly by the Better Pop Up Blocker homepage. If you're using Chrome, just click the image that says Click me, I'm an image, and see what I mean.
By default, Chrome allowed three different huge pop-up windows to appear. After installing Better Pop Up Blocker, no pop-up appeared when clicking the image. I was still able to see what pop-ups were blocked using the extension's menu and open them if I did want to access them. The browser action icon will every time it blocks a pop-up, just to let you know it's working.
All in all, it's a welcome addition to my Chrome installation - and one that will remain installed on my system.
Back in 2008, Lee covered SiteLauncher for Firefox. It's a simple add-on that provides you with a customizable "shortcut panel" for your favorite websites. SiteLauncher for Chrome provides basically the same service, but for Google's browser. I've been using it for a few days now, and while it's not perfect, it's still very handy.
Pros: When it works, it really does provide single-keystroke access to the sites I need. Ctrl+Space and then d can take me to Download Squad. I like it. It's very customizable. You can create and delete groups, move sites from group to group, etc. The hotkey assignment GUI is well thought-out. You can see at a glance what hotkeys are already used.
Cons: It doesn't always work. Sometimes I hit Ctrl+Space and nothing happens. That's mainly when the address bar ("Omnibar") is in focus, and I suspect it's due to Chrome's limitations. Still, it's annoying. It's one of those add-ons that takes some getting used to, but once you're addicted, you want to use it all the time. Having it work intermittently just keeps the habit from forming.
Okay, that was just one con -- but it's a big one!
Bottom line: Awesome add-on, if only it worked all the time.
Google Chrome extensions can be truly handy, but there's at least one feature power users have been clamoring for since the beginning: the ability to hide an extension's browser action button. Good news, Chrome Geeks: the Canary build now lets you hide extension buttons.
Just right-click the icon you want to disappear and select hide button, and it's gone. If you should happen to get removal remorse, just head to chrome://extensions and you'll find a show button link next to any extension you've previously hidden.
Yes, you could already drag-to-resize the entire browser actions area to hide any buttons which happened to be on the right-hand side -- but now you've got full control over which extensions get space on your toolbar and which don't.
At last, extensions which you can call from the context menu or invoke with a hotkey don't have to chew up valuable toolbar real estate in Google Chrome.
One of my favorite Gmail features is the ability to drag-and-drop attachments onto email messages. That's so cool! There's no more browsing for files - the whole thing feels much more like a desktop app.
drag2up is a Chrome add-on that aspires to bring that same functionality to the whole Web. It's super-cool - when it works. I've selected the screenshot above for that exact reason. The imgur.com link is the result of a successful upload attempt. I dragged an image onto a text area, and drag2up uploaded it to imgur.com in the background, and then it populated the text area with the URL of the image. It even wrapped it in forum-friendly [img] tags for me.
The second line (the one starting with Error) is what happened when I tried uploading a ZIP file. No joy, but I guess that might be resolved in time.
When I tried using drag2up with another edit control (CKEditor running in a heavily-customized environment), it couldn't even modify the text shown in the control. But it did work with a simple text area control.
Bottom line: It's really, really cool, when it works. Let's hope it'll gradually start working with more and more files and editors.
Not everyone uses Google Reader; some people (a dying breed, perhaps) like to consume their RSS feeds locally, using a desktop feed reader. Firefox has long had a Live Bookmarks feature that gave it some of those "desktop feed reader" powers: Live Bookmarks understands RSS, and it can always show you a list of a website's most recent headlines.
RSS Live Links brings just that sort of functionality to Google Chrome, along with a nice extra feature: instant notifications.
Whenever one of the feeds you've subscribed to updates, you get a nice sound effect (a human voice going "Boing!"), the icon shakes, and an unread count appears. When you then click the icon, you can see a list of the unread items in each feed, and hover over them to see a preview. Naturally, clicking an item opens it in a new tab.
This is a powerful add-on; it has a very rich configuration interface, with no less than 20 different options (I counted!). You can also configure the color scheme, select one of several different notification sounds, and customize it in a myriad other ways. Slick!
There are many, many extensions currently available for Google Chrome in the Chrome Extension Gallery -- over 8,000 in fact -- from both third-party developers and from Google themselves. Yesterday, Google announced the addition of official Chrome extensions for Google Calendar, Docs, and YouTube.
The Google Calendar extension adds quick access to your upcoming events and lets you add new events directly from websites like Facebook. A green plus sign will pop up indicating that it's found an event, allowing you to quickly insert it into your Calendar with location information if it's detected.
Google Docs gets a Web Clipboard extension that allows you to copy and paste text and images to and from the Google Docs online clipboard, for use across multiple browser windows. Handy if you're a heavy Docs user, as Matthew mentioned in his previous coverage.
Last but not least, Google's got a YouTube Feed extension that keeps an eye on your favorite videos and notifies you when new videos are available in your YouTube homepage feed. It also brings the social elements of ratings, likes and uploads from your friends to Chrome with direct access straight from the extension. Great for avid YouTube users.
These official Chrome extensions and many more are available, of course, from the Chrome Extensions Gallery.
I am not sure about you, but every time I came across a great tutorial on the Web, I will convert the content to a pdf file and keep it for future reference. Some of you might be pondering why I am wasting my time converting it to pdf since I can just bookmark the site. There are several reasons for this: firstly, I am not always connected to the Web, so if I need the information immediately, I won’t be able to access it. Secondly, there is no guarantee that the site will forever be there for me. It could be available today and disappear the next day (we’ve seen too much of this, don’t we?)
If you are like me, and are also using Google Chrome, you are in luck, here are several PDF extensions that you can use to make the whole conversion process much easier and faster.
1. Save As PDF
This is my favorite extension for pdf conversion. In my experience with several other extensions, this is the best, in terms of the speed and quality of conversion.
After installing the extension, you will see an icon at the toolbar. When you come across any webpage that you want to convert to pdf, simply click on the button and it will start the conversion immediately. The conversion is fast (typically less than 5 seconds) and it runs in the background without disrupting you from your work.
Instead of an icon in the toolbar, the PDFmyURL icon appears in the URL bar. Similarly, on a page that you want to be converted to pdf, just click on the icon and it will do all the work in the background.
The speed of conversion is rather fast, but it is not able to convert images properly for sites that are using lazy loading. In addition, it seems to add an extra margin to the four sides of the page, which make the file size bigger.
Web2PDFConverter is yet another pdf converter extension for Google Chrome. One of its unique feature is the ability to view your converted PDF files in Google Docs. You can then choose to save the pdf file in your Google Docs and free up storage space on your computer.
One annoyance with Web2PDF is that during conversion, it takes control of the browser and prevents you from doing any other things. You won’t be able to switch to other tabs, or even other applications. Doing so will terminate the conversion process. In term of user-friendliness, this is definitely the worst in my opinion.
If you are looking for a pdf conversion tool for your Google Chrome, I would strongly recommend SaveAsPdf. What other tools do you use to convert your stuff to PDF?
AOL has been busy re-tooling itself ever since head honcho Tim Armstrong took the reigns, and one area that has received a lot of attention is social networking and content discovery. Lifestream is, perhaps, AOL's biggest social app, and now there's a second: Offsite.
Currently, Offsite is available as an extension for Google Chrome. Once installed, simply click the icon in your Omnibar (or the folded-over page corner in the top left) to load the Offsite overlay. The page you're currently viewing slides down and to the right, with relevant tweets taking the left column and related posts from other websites appears at the top (image after the break). A stream of trending topics is also shown, and Digg, Twitter, and AOL Mail sharing buttons are provided. Offsite also displays the page's "heat index," giving you a vague idea how popular it is right now.
Unlike AOL Lifestream for Chrome, Offsite loads in a flash. While it's handy in its current state, I'd like to see the sharing options tweaked. Facebook should be an option, and support for other email providers (and even the good old mailto:) would be a welcome improvement.
I'd also like to see this implemented as a bookmarklet so that users of other browsers can use Offsite -- which shouldn't be hard, given the nature of most Chrome extensions.
The Offsite header bar
The Google OS blog was lucky enough to nab a screenshot of the Most Popular page complete with "Free" tags, though when I checked the site only the spotlight extension at the top showed prices.
There have been other indications recently that Google is gathering steam for the Web Store launch. Not long ago, I received an odd 500 error indicating that the Web Store was not available. Google has also been busy educating extension and Web app developers about accepting payments.
While no launch date has been revealed yet, stay tuned -- the Web Store Launch surely can't be far off now.
With so many new extensions uploaded in the gallery every day, we know it can be tricky to decide which ones to try out. We post a selection of the ones we enjoy in the "Featured" section of the gallery, and from now on we plan to update you regularly on new additions to our recommended extensions.
Here are a few new extensions in the Featured section:
Layers allows you to overlay content like sticky notes, images, videos, tweets and even maps over any web site. You can drag and drop your content anywhere on the page. You can also share and discuss whatever you add to the site with your friends across social networks.
The Postrank extension for Google Reader helps you stay up-to-date on the news and posts that matter. The extension aggregates engagement activity such as tweets, comments and votes from over two dozen social networks and ranks stories based on how much engagement each story has received.
With the Ozone extension, you can get suggestions from fifteen different sources like Google, Amazon, your bookmarks, Gmail, YouTube and more. As you type in the Ozone search box, you can see the suggestions change in real time.
Highlight to Search is a new official Google extension that allows you to search keywords by highlighting instead of typing them into a search box. When you highlight words within a web page, you'll see a magnifying glass icon appear below the highlighted keywords. Clicking on the icon or the keywords allows you to search easily from the search box that immediately appears.
These are just a few of the new featured Chrome extensions, and you can find many more in the gallery.
For the last few days, I've been hearing reports from a number of people about 500 errors when trying to reach the Chrome Extensions Gallery. The Gallery, you might recall, is due to be re-launched as the Web Store -- at least according to chatter on the Chromium dev mailing list.
Tonight, I was trying to take a browse around the Gallery when I ran into the error message above. While that could have been caused by any number of errors, it could also point to work going on behind the scenes. A page not found error in the Gallery should be titled:
Chrome: Zoomy is a small Chrome extension that automatically enlarges websites to fill the available screen space. Whether you're trying to read small text more comfortably or you're tired of the massive page gutters on your widescreen monitor, Zoomy can help. More »
Windows/Mac/Linux: Two years after its inception, web browser Google Chrome reaches version 6 in its stable release today, bringing with it the much sought-after extension syncing, form autofill and autofill syncing, and an even more streamlined UI. More »