For many years I’ve used multiple web browsers on my laptop computers because each one offers different advantages. My two primary browsers today, on both my Mac laptop as well as my iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) are Google Chrome and Safari. Since Safari is the default iOS browser, I end up using it the most on my iPhone and iPad, but do use Chrome for iOS a bit… Generally when I need to copy and paste something from a website or web link and I’m trying to share something directly to Twitter or Buffer within Safari. On my laptop this situation is reversed: I use Google Chrome continuously for 99% of my web browser needs, and use Safari only infrequently. In its recent updates Safari’s speed on laptop/desktop computers (running Mac OS X) has improved quite a bit. Originally when I switched to Chrome from Safari and FireFox, a big reason was speed. Chrome was SO fast, relatively speaking.

Spaghetti Junction - Tyburn Road - Googl by ell brown, on Flickr
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One of the main reasons to run Chrome or FireFox on your laptop or desktop computer is support of browser extensions. Safari doesn’t support them. Browser extensions extend the functionality of a web browser. Like mobile apps, however, it’s easy to give a large number of extensions a try and end up with many more installed than you actually use or need. Unlike mobile apps, if you have many extensions enabled, you can end up slowing down the operating speed of your web browser significantly.

This past week at the Inspiring Digital Age Teaching & Learning Conference in Keystone, Colorado, I had an opportunity to hear Ben Wilkoff (@bwilkoff) lead a fantastic session titled, “Chromebooks for Learning: The Missing Guidebook.” The way Ben had participants simultaneously contributing to a shared Google Document, captured in this six second Vine video, was just one of the fantastic ingredients of this session.

Ben shared several new Chrome extensions in the session which I’m absolutely loving, so I’m including them in my current list (linked below) of “indispensable Chrome extensions.” By “indispensable” I mean that I’m keeping these extensions running all the time, while others are toggled off until I actually want to use them. Here are my seven current “indispensable” Google extensions, along with a short description of how I use each one / why I think it’s great.

uBlock Origin is a new extension for me, which I discovered tonight thanks to this reddit thread. I love to use ad blocker browser extensions, especially when sharing YouTube videos with students, since I have no desire to subject them (or myself) to advertisements when we’re trying to watch something together. According to that reddit thread, there are big differences in the memory utilization of ad blocker extensions. In the past I’ve tried AdBlock, AdBlock Pro, and Adblock Plus. So far uBlock Origin seems to be just as effective as the alternatives… and I’m hoping I’ll notice the memory utilization improvements as well.

Tab Suspender is one of the new extensions Ben introduced me to. It’s absolutely fantastic: If you haven’t used a browser tab in awhile, it automatically suspends or “caches” it so it’s no longer using so much computer memory. According to the description, it can save up to 80% of your computer browser memory. I love how it goes into effect automatically, no configuration is required once it’s activated. When you want to use a suspended tab again, just click on the big blue “refresh” button and it will again become active.

Extensity is another new extension Ben introduced me to. This one provides quick-click access to turn individual extensions on or off, right from your browser window. This is MUCH faster than accessing extensions from within the Chrome settings menu.

Both Save to Pocket and Buffer are two of my essential extensions for saving web articles I want to read later on my iOS devices, and sharing links via Twitter. I address both of these in my conference breakout session, “Discovering New Ideas.” I also use a bookmarklet for Flipboard, mainly to share articles in my free Flipboard magazine “iReading by Wes.”

Google Tone is an extension I learned about a couple weeks ago from Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent) which functions like the iOS app Chirp. When someone else has Google Tone installed and activated, it’s possible to play/send a series of computer tones to their computer so they can open up a specific webpage. I haven’t used this in a classroom setting yet, and I can imagine that it could be potentially chaotic, but it also might be extremely useful in the same way QR Codes can be to quickly enable students to directly access web links.

Share Extensions is the last item on this list, and I discovered it this evening when I wanted to find a quick way to generate a linked list of extensions I have activated as well as installed but inactive. Here’s that list! What are your “Indispensable” Google Chrome extensions that didn’t make my list?

My Google Chrome™ Extensions

Generated: Thu, 25 Jun 2015 03:41:35 GMT

User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_10_3) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/43.0.2357.124 Safari/537.36

Extensions: 7

Disabled Extensions: 14

Apps: 23

Exported with Chrome Extensions Share


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  • teach42

    One Tab. Absolutely indispensable. By far my favorite Chrome ext.

    Love Extensify!! That’s a new one for me

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