Tweaking Google's Chrome browser with extensions to serve your every whim is one of its best features. Those optional little buttons sitting next to Chrome's omnibox now number in their thousands, and add all manner of new functions to your net-navigating experience. From VPNs to Chromecast to managing your passwords.
But where to start, with so many to choose from? Trust us, after installing these extensions you'll wonder how you ever lived without them.
Ever come across a really interesting read while busy working, vowing to come back to it but never managing to remember? Using Pocket will mean you never have to lose a good website ever again. More than just a bookmarking tool, with a push of a button Pocket saves entire articles for offline reading, syncing them up across multiple apps and platforms so that you can pick them up again whether on the tube going to work, or referencing them back at your desk. It's free and one of the most-used extension/ app combinations I have. [Get It]
Evernote Web Clipper
Evernote is perhaps the best note-taking-and-syncing service on the web, allowing you to jot down and archive any thoughts you have and letting you retrieve them from any desktop, mobile or web browser running the application. The Web Clipper extension lets you chop whole chunks off of websites, saving them directly to Evernote's big notebook in the sky. [Get It]
Hola Better Internet
Hola Better Internet laughs in the face of international web blocks. Whether you're travelling stateside and still need your BBC iPlayer Doctor Who fix, or just looking to browse Netflix's superior US-only library, Hola uses a list of free proxy addresses to trick your browser into believing it's accessing the sites from another international location. It's free, with the trade-off being that you allow Hola to act as a server for other users located elsewhere looking to tap into your local services. If that irks you, there's also a $5 / £3.20 per month premium option that doesn't require the server permissions. [Get It]
The web is a big old thing these days, and trying to find a gem in the sea of narcissistic Tumblrs or puke-inducingly-cute cat videos can be tough. StumbleUpon lets web users submit and upvote things they consider to be the best content out on the web. The StumbleUpon extension offers up a toolbar that lets you visit one of those submissions by random selection, and cast your own deciding vote on whether more StumbleUpon users should see it or not. Over time, it learns your tastes and favourite, throwing up just the sort of niche weirdness that only the web could make seem tailor made for you. [Get It]
Send To Kindle
Got a Kindle? Prefer reading on its e-ink display than on your searingly-bright computer screen? The Send To Kindle extension is a must-have then. Once you've fed it your free Kindle email address (check your Amazon device management settings page — if you've got a Kindle, it's also got its own email address), the extension will format an article into a Kindle-friendly layout and email it to your e-Reader free of charge. [Get It]
If you live in the UK and listen to the radio through your computer lots, RadioPlayer is very handy. Offering live, catch-up and podcast shows from 350 UK stations, it throws up a small window full of listening options, letting you select your favourite go-to streams and playing them right inside Chrome. [Get It]
Checker Plus for Gmail
Need an at-a-glance look at you inbox, without having to fire up a full email tab? Checker Plus for Gmail lets you get desktop notifications for multiple accounts, delete, reply or star them, and get top-line information on incoming mail. [Get It]
In my opinion, there's not much point to having a Chromecast if you don't use its Chrome extension. Yeah, the little dongle lets you throw Netflix and Google Play movies wirelessly to your big screen, but you've probably got a set top box or smart TV that offers similar stuff. The Chrome extension, however, lets you mirror your browser on your TV without the need for cables — anything you can get on Chrome, you can get on your TV. I'll leave your imagination to fill in the blanks there. [Get It]
The YouTube comments section is the cesspit of the internet. It's like a members club for sexists, racists and the illiterate. Alientube replaces YouTube comment threads with the generally-more-palatable associated commentary from Reddit instead. [Get It]
Password management is a pain — it's not just a matter of remembering cat's names and birthdays, it's the increasingly-complex series of capitalised letters and numbers in odd places too, for dozens of accounts. 1Password does all that remembering for you, integrating directly into your web browser, and also manages form data and credit card information securely for you too.[Get It]
TinyTiny RSS Notifier
The death of Google Reader left an RSS hole that has still really yet to be filled. Tiny Tiny RSS Notifier isn't quite a match for Reader, but its discrete integration with Chrome is a lightweight alternative that gets the job done, displaying the number of unread stories waiting in your feeds, and changing colour to reflect that. [Get It]
Don't start your Christmas shopping without installing InvisibleHand. That's an order. This money-saving extension scans the web for cheaper alternatives to whatever buying page you may currently be sitting on, letting you make sure you're getting the best deal before slapping down the cash. It's as if it makes every day Black Friday, without the supermarket shopper rioting. [Get It]
Curious as to where all the time you'd put aside to work on your long-gestating novel went? timeStats probably has the answers. It tracks all the time you spend on individual websites, turning your procrastinations into easy to read charts, letting you categorise your distractions and, hopefully, learn how to make better use of your time on the web. [Get It]
No need for a tab for every single social network you may be juggling — Shareaholic offers a quick dropdown menu that lets you send a link from any imaginable social network, straight from Chrome's toolbar. [Get It]
I'm a Gentleman
I'm a Gentleman takes away the chore of harvesting images from websites, giving you three super-quick ways to download pictures. ALT-clicking an image will save one, as will dragging one just slightly to the left, while there's a dedicated button for saving every single picture present on a webpage (be warned — I mean EVERY image, including any little buttons or dividers). It's particularly useful for grabbing entire galleries at one go, and is a lifesaver for anyone running a picture-heavy website. [Get It]
Need to juggle multiple accounts for a single site? Multilogin lets you quickly jump from one persona to another, without the need to log in and out of the same site on multiple tabs. It's also a handy way of getting around the pageview limits that certain websites employ to encourage you to peek behind their paywalls...[Get It]
Another one that's a godsend just before Christmas, and a perfect companion to InvisibleHand too. Honey will scour the web for discount codes associated with the shopping site you are currently visiting, digging out a few quid's worth of savings for you at the click of a Chrome toolbar button. [Get It]
Blur (formerly DoNotTrackMe)
Blur not only conjures up complex encrypted passwords for you, but keeps tracking cookies in check as well, meaning you wont get those creepy targeted ads that follow you around the web, knowing better than you do what your money wants spending on. If you've an iOS device with a Touch ID sensor too, Blur's integration on that platform allows it to use the scanner to log in to its services too. [Get It]
If Shareaholic is for the casual social networker, Buffer is for Tweet-addicted pros. Not only can you send to multiple social networks at once from its extension button, but you can also schedule posts too. But that's the tip of the iceberg — Buffer's complexities allow you to build IFTTT rules for automatic posting on your behalf, and even offers relatively detailed analytics breakdowns of each post's individual performance. [Get It]
Any we've missed? Share your favourite extensions in the comments section below.
Our newest offspring Gizmodo UK is gobbling up the news in a different timezone, so check them out if you need another Giz fix.