Brand Spankin’ New Google Chrome Extensions You Should Be Trying

written by aext on March 11, 2010 in Tools with 52 comments

The beauty of the Google Chrome Extension gallery is that it is virtually uninhibited by any sort of approval process. This allows tons of extensions to be uploaded into the wild in real time. Every couple weeks, I go through and find the best and/or the most promising extensions that have recently been added.

The following extensions are no more than a few weeks old, and thus, it’s highly unlikely that you’ve seen them yet (unless you have no life, like me). Keep in mind that since these are brand new, some of them may have bugs here and there. The good thing, though, is that extensions from the gallery automatically update in the background without the need to restart the browser, and extension developers are usually more receptive to adding/removing/fixing features when their extension is newly released!

There are twenty-three extensions and two themes to try out. Feel free to give any of these a quick try! If you decide you don’t like it, simply right-click the extension and select “Uninstall” — Simple as that! No restarts or anything!

Ready? Here goes!

copy title+url to clipboard


This extension is fresh off the dev press. I’m using it to write this post right now, in fact. It simply allows you to copy the URL, the title of the page and the URL, or an HTML link to the page.

How can it improve? New icon, properly capitalized lettering, and styling. Start there. Make the extension a PageAction instead of a BrowserAction since interacting with it results in data from the page (not the browser).

New tab with clock


Alright, so I admit this sounds super simple but I think this is a great tool. All it does is it removes your “Speed Dial” and places a live clock there instead. Why is this so great? If you’re like me, you need to be reminded about the time — a lot! Having the time in front of me every time I open a new tab helps remind me of what I should be doing right now (in other words, it urges me to get off Twitter and Facebook and start working!).

How can it improve? Add a dark theme (or allow custom CSS) and throw in a simple alarm clock! I know many college students (and non-students) who would turn this into their regular alarm clock. It’d be most effective at night, though, if it had a black background with red numbers (like most physical alarm clocks). Users can simply press F11 to put it in full screen, and they have a $1,000+ alarm clock!

Chromium Updater


First: This is ONLY for Chromium and not for Google Chrome. If you run Chromium, you have probably noticed that it doesn’t automatically update like Google Chrome does. This extension attempts to make it easier for you to update Chromium whenever there’s an update by giving you quick access to download the latest installer and zip files.

How can it improve? It’s probably just fine for who it’s intended for, but somehow adding a .dll plugin which allows it to update automatically (like Google Chrome) would be amazing — Enough to get me to switch over to Chromium full-time!

Session Buddy


Despite being released today (as of writing this), this extension already has well over 1,500 users and over 2,400 downloads! Session Buddy describes itself as “a flexible session manager extension for Google Chrome that allows you to quickly save and restore session tabs.” Of all Chrome’s “session managers”, this one is by far the most well laid out. I also appreciate the theming (trying to keep to the “Chrome” color scheme).

How can it improve? In the short time that I have had to try it, all I’d suggest right now, is setting it up so that clicking the “Options” button while the Session Buddy page is open would show the options panel. The developer may be able to do this by editing options page setting in the manifest to include an anchor (ex: #options) that way it treats it as a different page.

Twitter Extender


No list can be complete without a Twitter extension! This extension currently adds four new features to Twitter.com:

  1. Old school retweet
  2. Reply to all
  3. Send a Direct Message
  4. Switch reading direction (ex: for right-to-left languages)

Future features include adding a URL shortening button, translations, and short link expander.

How can it improve? With these added features, it’s starting to get a little cluttered. It may be a good idea to scrap the text and have only icons with pretty tooltips.

WordPress Comments Notifier (by HelloLogic)


This one is ours! It’s only in it’s alpha stage, but currently it will check any one WordPress blog for pending (unaccepted) comments and show the number in the badge. Clicking the icon will open your dashboard so you can review and accept them.

How can it improve? We’re currently designing and developing the next version to allow users to check multiple blogs as well as accept, deny, edit, and reply to comments without opening their dashboard. If you’re great with JavaScript or design and want to contribute, please get in touch!

Blank Canvas Gmail Signatures


Well, poo. After finding this extension, I’m going to have to go back and re-”write” on of our future posts (you’ll know what I mean once we release it). This extension allows Gmail users to automatically insert HTML signatures into their messages based on which address they’re sending from. Brilliant.

How can it improve? Add Yahoo and Hotmail support.

Pixlr Grabber


We’ve mentioned Pixlr as an exceptional online image editor recently. This extension allows users to quickly grab web page captures and edit and/or share them instantly.

How can it improve? Right now? Just get a better icon and move it to the address bar by making it a PageAction. (Anything that mainly deals with the current page should be a PageAction, not a BrowserAction.)

Polyglot


Now this is an interesting way to learn! Polyglot is a translation extension with a fun twist. It randomly translates a few phrases on the pages you visit. If you hover over the translated word(s), you get the original text. This turns web browsing into a learning game. Oh I can hear it now: “No, Mr. Teacher! I’m not off task! See? I’m studying my vocabulary!” — Not a bad excuse though! ;)

How can it improve? Make your options page pretty and edit the text so I can understand all the options at a quick glance. Imagery might help.

Facebook Friends Checker


So, this is supposed to somehow alert you when people remove you as friends. …Since no one would ever thing to remove me as a friend (haha), I’ll really never know how well this works. All kidding aside, I really haven’t quite figured out how it works. If you know, please inform us in the links below.

How can it improve? One word: Documentation! Your extension’s ‘profile’ reads like a PHP script (if (blah) { do this; } else { do something else; })

Pastebin.com


This is the official Pastebin.com extension for Chrome. After Pastebin was purchased, the owners set out to build official Firefox and Chrome extensions. This one is the first and is just as featured as Pastebin.com is (minus this displaying part)!

How can it improve? Pink button. Really? How does that fit Chrome’s or your color scheme? Users should be able to click away from the popup and return to it and still have their text waiting for them (currently, closing it clears the textarea). And last, add in keyboard shortcuts (ex: Shift+P) to make it quick to paste multiple sets of text from the browser.

ChromeReload


I use this religiously. Being in Vietnam, I’m graced (cough) with government-run internet service. The internet goes down probably 3 to 10 times a day–regularly. This extension simply refreshes the current web page every XX seconds (user definable). It’s particularly useful when the internet goes down and you want refresh the page every 5 seconds as you wait for it to come back online. It’s also great for active design/developing. Instead of refreshing the page after each save, simply set it to refresh automatically every 5 seconds and it’ll automatically show you your most up-to-date edit.

How can it improve? Styling and (again) move it to the address bar. This should be a PageAction, not a BrowserAction.

Straight to Google Analytics


If you use Google Analytics, this will be nice to have. It simply auto-redirects http://www.google.com/analytics/ (which is the splash page) to https://www.google.com/analytics/settings/?et=reset&hl=en (which is the front of the admin area) if you’re already logged in so you don’t have to click “Access Analytics” anymore.

How can it improve? Either get rid of the BrowserAction icon, or give us an option to. All I need is to have it redirect, I don’t want anymore buttons cluttering my interface.
Update: The developer has updated the extension already to meet this request. This is why I love Google Chrome!

Greasy Thug


Greasy Thug, like Greasemonkey, enables you to use JavaScript and jQuery to alter web pages but comes with a built in console and full history of commands. “This allows for quick one-off scripts to be created and saved to execute at each subsequent visit to a page.”

How can it improve? I know it’s just a console, but does it have to be so ugly? I suggest one of two things (or a combination of the two if you’re able): (1) have the console dock to the bottom (or top) of the window like Firebug Lite does; or (2) show the console in the “popup” UI that’s built into Chrome extensions. Using a combination of the popup and content scripts, you should be able to do both for a nice UI.

Visual Tabs


Visual Tabs gives you a simple button to visualize all your tabs in a sort of “iTunes” format.

How can it improve? Why a button? Make this the default new tab page! Or set it up to listen for CTRL+Shift+S (S is for Switch) or CTRL+Alt+T (T is for Tabs) and open a new tab with this interface whenever one of those is pressed.

RuneScape Hiscores Lookup


No, I don’t play RuneScape but I know a lot about it because my younger brothers did (still do?). As a developer, I usually only see extensions from a developer’s point of view. Extensions like these that target the casual browsers and gamers, however, is what will help bring Google Chrome to the mainstream.

How can it improve? I really don’t know, since I don’t play the game.

Skeet for Twitter


Skeet is a new Twitter app that sits right inside Chrome. The idea isn’t new. But it’s one of the most well polished apps (in regards to features and design) that I’ve seen in the gallery. It also loads much faster than the others as well.

How can it improve? Upon initial installation and authentication, Chrome crashed. Fix those 400 errors that people are reporting. Retweets should not be a one click action unless you have a button to quickly undo the retweet. The character count is buggy. And last, I shouldn’t have to click the “Mark as Read” button in order to mark all of them as read.

Merge Windows


This is a nifty little tool developed by Google themselves. It simply merges all your tabs from different windows into one window. It’s quite useful for those of us who get carried away with too many windows.

How can it improve? For what it’s meant to do, there’s not much room for improvement. Apparently it also merges “Application Windows Shortcuts”, so that should be fixed. It’d be nice to have an extension that would split windows, though.

Minimize Chrome to tray


Here’s an extension built specifically for the Windows version of Chrome. Simply put, when you minimize Chrome, it will place an icon in your taskbar tray area. Kind of like most instant messengers and anti-virus programs. It even has a boss hot key so that you can minimize your windows quickly and allows you to customize how you are able to interact with it.

How can it improve? Currently, you must minimize the window by pressing the minimize button in the window. If you click the taskbar button to minimize it, it won’t hide the window. Also, sometimes it doesn’t show all the proper titles of the windows.

Pure Google Bookmark


Here’s another nifty one. This is a super simple extension allowing you to easily create bookmarks using Google Bookmark. It enables two hot keys: Alt+B adds the current page to your bookmarks (you can also single-click the new star icon), and Alt+M opens up the bookmark manager (or double-click the star icon). You need a Google account to use this.

How can it improve? Use Chrome’s built-in popup functionality when adding a bookmark instead. Keep it clean ;)

Themes: WindowsXP Silver and WindowsXP Olive Green


So these aren’t technically extensions but they’re built practically the same way and they’re in the same gallery (for now). Now, I’m a big fan of the simple default theme that comes with Chrome because all of Google’s other “official” themes are rubbish, distracting, and unclean (in my opinion).

BUT. These are the first two custom themes I’ve seen that actually look good! I strongly encourage you to try them out, especially if you’re already using Windows XP with the Silver or Olive themes — but they’re great even without that.

How can it improve? None. Seriously, well done.

Dim My Chrome: Energy Saver


Quite an interesting idea. Simply put, this extension waits for you to be inactive for X minutes, then dims the web page in order to save energy. I’m not very big on the whole “global warming” fiasco, but if I can passively save energy (and a few cents) along the way, might as well!

How can it improve? Inform people that this only saves money for CRT monitors and not LCD monitors (yet).

Name Dropper


This one is just for fun (or self promotion). The extension is supposed to check to see if the site has Google Analytics installed, and if it does, it’ll create an “event” with your name and website address alerting the website owner that you visited their web page. A little icon displays when the site is using Google Analytics.

So far, two people have already used this on this website (Mark Layton and b.root).

How can it improve? Have an option to change the name of the event category (from “Guest List” to something else).

Paint


Paint is like having a simple version of MS Paint in your browser except it uses HTML5 and Javascript and, of course, still has some edges to fix up. (Keep in mind that it was only released a few days ago.) You can even save your paints as PNG files and insert/edit images from the web. And, once you click “Clear Canvas” it saves a copy of your latest work in the “Paint Archive” for later usage!

How can it improve? UI could be better and smoother lines. Otherwise keep workin’ on your “to do” list!