Top 10 chrome extensions

Ashish Bhatia        Print Edition: October 2012

Because these browserwalas couldn't do everything, they allowed extensions. Unless you've been dwelling under a rock, you'll know extensions allow you to plug-in superpowers into your browsers to enhance its featureset and functionality as per your wants and needs. In other words, these are bits of add-on code that install in a jiffy and allow you to personalise and customise your web browser.

The beauty of it is that this enhancement to the browser's user interface doesn't always have to be directly related to the viewable content of webpages. Therefore, rather than just browse and read websites, you can do everything from maintaining your to-do list (that is synced to your phone or tablet ), get notified on incoming mail or tweets or updates, play audio, see the weather, block ads, check FB updates, or block these time-wasting sites. And more... And of course, on a web page, specific extensions let you clip and save images and screenshots, pop up a dictionary, enhance video, kill distractions, save web articles to offline reading apps and loads more-all in a click, without leaving your browser.

Oh yes, all the famous five- Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Chrome -have extensions. But we have chosen to look at some of the best ones in Chrome. Why? Simply because in four years of its existence, Chrome has- if, arguably - the maximum number of active users on Planet Earth.

We handpick 10 of the best Chrome extensions

PANIC BUTTON
Picture this: You're chatting up someone, or applying for a job, or, well, just ogling at the oglable. Suddenly you hear the boss grunting ominously close. Hit the Panic Button. This will hide all your open tabs in one blessed click! Press it again when the coast is clear to restore these tabs. Forced to quit Chrome? Shut down for the day? Can only resume the next day? Nevermind, you'll find the tabs tucked away, in Chromepie order.

GOOGLE CALENDAR
If you're a Google Calendar user, you'll love this. Not only does a single click on its browser toolbar resident icon drop down your agenda for the next few days, it even sniffs out events from a web page (like Facebook, for example), letting you add them to your calendar in a trice. You can add events through it manually any time, of course. The icon itself can display the time remaining until the next event.

POCKET
So much to read, such little time! Especially online. Many a time and oft, we find a long-or little- piece on web that we badly want to read but don't have the time. Rather then tuck away as a bookmark, and most likely forget it, this one-click browser extension saves the page for offline reading and also instantly makes it available on your synced phone and tablet (or even another computer) that carries Pocket. You can also tag articles the way you want.

GOOGLE DICTIONARY
What would you do if you came across the words aphasia, apostate or apotheosis on a web page? Go to dictionary.com and look 'em up, right? With this extension, you don't have to. The dictionary will come to you at a mere double-click. An instant little pop-up bubble reveals the meaning. And you can deploy a toolbar dictionary to check the complete definition. Foreign words? Oh, they'll be autotranslated to your preferred lingo.

EVERNOTE WEB CLIPPER
If you're in the habit of bookmarking pages, you'd have realised how cluttered and chaotic this endless scroll can get over the years. Stacking up the important stuff in a safehouse like Evernote (www.evernote. com) not only makes the items easily findable but also accessible on your smartphones and tablets. This extension enables you to add content to a specific Evernote folder pronto. Best of all, have the option to clip just a selection, an article, an image, entire pages, or only the URL.

TINEYE IMAGE SEARCH
Trawling the Internet for larger version of a specific image? Scouting for the source of an image? Or looking for matching instances of a photo? Summon TinEye Reverse Image Search to your rescue. Since you may not use this add-on very often, it has not been dumped into the toolbar but thoughtfully tucked into your right-click context menu instead.

ANY.DO
To-do managers are a dime a dozen. What makes Any.Do special is its intrepid ingenuity to sync data seamlessly between Chrome and your Android and iOS mobile devices-phone or tablet. Its design is clean, the UI intuitive, functionality very lucid, and usability a cut above the rest. Drag and drop ease aside, it offers a lot of flexibility in setting up tasks, grouping them, creating subtask, as well as keeping notes alongside, and so on.

RAPPORTIVE
Received mail from a new contact and want to know more about them? Or build a relationship with an acquaintance? Rapportive may be the fastest way. It works in the background, inside your Gmail to automatically pull in data on the person's recent updates from social networks. This can make it easier for you to connect and communicate with him or her on various levels. The info is displayed alongside the person's email, putting the normally ad-carrying right-hand screen panel to good use.

AWESOME SCREENSHOT
Need to capture an image or webpage that extends beyond a screenful? Need to snip only part of a screen? Need to capture the entire web page- no matter how long it is... vertically or even horizontally (sidescrolling)-over and above the two meg limit? This single extension is the perfect answer. You can save the resultant images on your hard disk, upload them, or copy them to the clipboard. It also lets you annotate clips.

DR.WEB LINK CHECKER
We're living in dangerous times, so when it comes to online activities, we can never be too careful. Malicious intent can lurk anywhere on the Internet. If anti-virus proggies tend to bog you down, try this Link Checker. It doesn't bring your machine to a crawl but lets you scan all URL links before visiting them and files before downloading them. Its autoscanning abilities extend even to Facebook and Google+ links.

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