5 useful Chrome extensions that everyone should have

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If you do not already know, Chrome today supports extensions to further enhances your browsing experience. Extensions are nothing new if you’re been using Firefox or Maxthon before. But before you go nuts trying to figure out why Chrome on your machine don’t seem to work, do note that it’s actually only supported on the latest beta version of Chrome. So yeah, you’ve to upgrade it (link here) if you’re using the latest official release of Chrome.

Once you’re on the latest beta version of Chrome, you’re set to get some extensions installed!

Today, there are 1,592 extensions (and counting as I’m blogging now!) available at the Google Chrome Extension website. Even though the extensions support is fairly new (since Dec 2009), there’s already lots of extensions that you can install, but there are some essential extensions that everyone should install on Chrome.

#1: AdThwart (link)

While it’s arguable if everyone should install an ad blocker or not (that’s an entirely different discussion that I won’t get into in this article), an ad blocker is a useful tool to have when you want to disable extremely annoying ads, especially those lurking in ad-infested websites that happens to have some information that you’re looking for.

To get it on Chrome, all you need to do is click the install button on this link.

I won’t comment on how anyone else should use an ad-blocker. But for me, I preference is to disable ads from all sites by default. When I find sites with great content, I’d disable ad blocking on that site as a little token of support to the site. So, the easier that can be done on the ad blocker extension, the better. And with AdThwart, it’s extremely easy.

All you’ve to do is to click on the cute little AdThwart icon on the right end of the address bar and you’ll be able to uncheck it for the site. It’s that simple!

AdThwart has also made it very simple to block specific advertisements on a particular site that you may deemed extremely annoying that might have slipped pass the default filters. To do that, all you’ve to do is to click on the “Easy create filter”, hover over the area where the advertisement is located, then press “Ctrl+Shift+E” and voila, you’ve now blocked that specific ad on the site.

#2: IE Tab (link)

To be honest, the availability of this extension is the sole reason why it’s now my default browser on all my machines. Yeah, i know that just extremely ironic but it’s true. This extension allows me to still use Chrome to access applications at work that only supports Internet Explorer. This concept isn’t new as Firefox has this similar IE Tab add-on to embed the IE engine within the browser’s tab.

You could easily argue the need for this extension for Chrome. There are tonnes of sites out there, especially corporate transactional sites, such as electronic banking sites and e-commerce sites would generally support a very limited set of browsers. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending which side you’re on) it’s generally optimized and built for Internet Explorer as it’s statistically the most used browser worldwide.

S0, to save yourself for grieving over the need to use both IE and Chrome, you can install this extension here at this link, and exclusively use Chrome for all of your browsing needs! I’ve tested IE Tab with sites that uses ActiveX components and it has fared very well. So far, it has successfully loaded an internal application at work running on Siebel where Firefox’s IE Tab add-on failed to!

#3. Google Mail Checker (link)

If you’re using Google Mail, then this is a very useful and helpful extension to have on Chrome. It does exactly what the title says, checks your Google mailbox periodically so you don’t need to have another tab opened just for that. It also doubles as a shortcut link to your mailbox.

And if you’re using a custom domain via Google Apps for Google Mail, don’t worry. The Google Mail Checker extensions supports that too. All you need to do is to access the Chrome Extensions settings (chrome://extensions/) and just enter your custom domain for Google Apps the options for the extension.

#4. Docs PDF/PowerPoint Viewer (link)

Chrome and PDF documents don’t get along very well. When you click on a link pointing to a PDF document, Chrome would just ask you to download it. Generally, this is ok with me, but there are also times when I’d love to be able to just view the PDF document from the browser directly just as how it’s possible with Internet Explorer and Firefox.

The solution? Integrate Google Docs into Chrome as a PDF and PowerPoint viewer.

Links now redirected to Google Docs

With this extension, you’ll immediately be able to view PDF documents directly in Google Docs, and then download it from Google Docs’ interface if you need to. Now PDF files and Chrome has a chance to get along again! But do note that Google Docs does not yet supports password-protected documents. So if you get password protected PDF files like I do sometiems, the you’ll just need to download it to your PC and read it with the de-facto Acrobat Reader.

#5. Cooliris (link)

To be honest, Cooliris is here because it’s just too cool to be missed. If you’ve no idea what Cooliris is, then you’ve missed one of the coolest application for the browser. In a single sentence, Cooliris is the coolest and most stunning way you can search and browse for images from your browser. If you don’t know what I mean, just check out the screenshot below.

This really is a screenshot of the Cooliris extension in action. It’s been supported in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari for quite a while now and with this extension, Chrome too is no longer missing the boat!

The great thing about Cooliris is how it can enhance searching and browsing photos from within your browser. I’ve always used Cooliris to search for images from Google’s Image search instead of using the regular Google search website. It’s just far more effective to view a scrollable 3D-wall of images with the quick ability to zoom into them rather than clicking and browsing them in a 2D table format.

It’s also a great way to browse through photo albums hosted on Cooliris-supported sites, such as Facebook, Flickr, deviantART, and much more (see here for the full list)!

And here’s the cherry on top of an already delicious cake, Cooliris is also able to load up images from your computer to be browsed on the 3D wall. And since it can load in fullscreen, it’s a great replacement for whatever you’re using now to browse your photos!

#6 and beyond….

While this list is what I deem as essential extensions that would benefit most of us Chrome users, there are also a whole lot  of extensions available to suit your fancy. As for me, I’m also using extensions such as Chromed Bird and Evernote Web Clipper to extend Chrome to fit my needs with Twitter and Evernote.  So, do browse through the extensive list at the Chrome Extensions page to check out what else there are and feel free to drop me a note if you find anything you’d wish to share.

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