35 Extensions to Turn Your Chromebook into a Powerhouse

This article is only intended for users running the Google Chrome operating system.

The rapidly rising popularity of Google Chromebooks can be attributed to a number of factors, including their relatively low costs and lightweight physical footprint. Although laptops running Chrome OS are considered less capable in some areas when compared to their Windows and Mac counterparts, your Chromebook can be transformed into a virtual powerhouse with the addition of browser extensions -- all available free of charge from the Chrome Web Store.

It should be noted that some of these extensions cannot completely co-exist with each other on the same Chromebook. For example, if you install two extensions that both modify Chrome's New Tab page, one is going to override the other.

1
Adblock for YouTube

chromebook file download
Getty Images #sb10066622n-001 Credit: Guy Crettenden.

While many users, and especially content owners, have mixed feelings about ad blockers_ the fact remains that they rank among some of the more popular apps and extensions.  Adblock for YouTube is no exception, as it stifles the majority of pre-video ads from appearing altogether on your Chromebook's browser.  With over 2 million users and counting, this oft-updated extension simply does the trick without the need for any manual intervention whatsoever.

2
Anti-Porn Pro

While not as popular as it once was in terms of overall traffic market share, the fact remains that adult content still accounts for a significant portion of the Web's content.  Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on who you ask, it's not that hard to find pornography via a simple Google search.  This can prove problematic, especially if children have access to your Chromebook.  The Anti-Porn Pro extension utilizes server-based content filtering to block websites, search results and other content that it deems inappropriate.  It does not catch all adult-related content, as I've seen some slip through the cracks_ especially in search results.  However, it does a good job for the most part and I recommend it if you have Chromebook users who should not be exposed to such images and videos.

3
Buffer

The Buffer extension provides the ability to share links to the current website as well as other updates on both Facebook and Twitter, adding these updates to a queue to be published at a later time_ hence the moniker.  Not only can you schedule these tweets and posts with Buffer, the extension also analyzes your social activity and offers statistics such as number of retweets, clicks, FB likes, and more_ all within the Chrome browser.

4
Checker Plus for Gmail

There's a reason why Checker Plus has almost a million users at the time of publication, it is the perfect Gmail companion for the Chrome browser.  With a feature set too plentiful to list everything here, this extension can display multiple notification types and new emails right within the current tab_ allowing you to easily read, reply or delete them without leaving the website you're currently viewing.  Audio alerts can also be configured, as well as an option for Chrome to read your email contents out loud via text to speech.  As if this weren't enough, Checker Plus provides support for multiple Gmail accounts simultaneously -- ensuring that you never miss an important notice or email while surfing the Web on your Chromebook.

5
crxMouse Chrome Gestures

Mouse gestures, which are sometimes broken down into sub-categories such as rocker and wheel gestures, let you perform virtually any action with the browser with a movement or click of the mouse_ or a combination of the two.  Whether it be refreshing the current site, moving to another tab, scrolling to the bottom or top of the page, or a number of other common and not-so-common actions, the crxMouse extension provides the ability to perform them with quick and easy gestures.

6
Currently

The Currently extension replaces Chrome's New Tab page with a customizable screen containing the date, time and current weather conditions in your area. It is somewhat customizable in terms of units of measurement and the option to choose between Fahrenheit or Celsius, and also lets you switch between multiple themes_ although not all of them are free.  For example one of the more popular themes, Starry Night, is available for $1.99.

7
Custom Google Background

Google's home page has always been known for its simplicity, with a clean interface and a white background.  Although there's something to be said for this lack of adornment, not everyone appreciates the plain look.  The Custom Google Background extension lets you apply a new coat of paint to the iconic page, adding one of your own personal image files or one of thousands of images found on the Web as your new Google home page background.  It also provides the ability to scale and position the image, hide a number of home page components and modify the background color altogether.

8
Downloads

One of the simpler extensions to make the cut, Downloads is the perfect example of a developer setting out to accomplish a single task and then achieving that goal.  There are no bells and whistles here, just a button added to the Chrome browser that opens a list of your downloaded files in a new tab.  Forget about using the Chrome menu or the CTRL+J shortcut, just click on the Downloads button and voila.  

9
Evernote Web Clipper

The Evernote service allows you to maintain your own virtual workspace containing notes, lists, photos, articles, and other documents all in one centralized location.  The Evernote Web Clipper extension lets you easily clip these articles, images and other Web page content from right within your Chromebook browser_ saving them to your Evernote workspace or sharing them with other users in an instant via the Work Chat feature.  You can also post these clips directly to your social media accounts such as Facebook or Twitter.  

10
Facebook Invite All

If you've got a lot of Facebook friends, sharing a Page with all of them or inviting the entire group to an event can be a daunting task_ so much so that you may have just given up on it altogether.  The Facebook Invite All extension lets you include each one of your friends on an invitation by clicking on a check mark conveniently located within Chrome's Omnibox.

11
feedly Mini

This extension allows you to connect with the popular aggregator right from your Chromebook browser_ letting you email, tweet, save, and share Web pages on Evernote, Facebook and Twitter as well as quickly add sites to your own personal feedly.

12
FireShot

One the most powerful screenshot tools available for Chromebook users, the Fireshot extension lets you capture and save full Web pages -- or a user-defined portion of it -- as a JPEG, PDF or PNG file.  Although some of its enhanced features such as editing and annotating these screenshots are not available on the Chrome OS platform, FireShot still gets the basic job done where it counts.

13
Google Art Project

If you're a museum buff, the Google Cultural Institute brings collections and exhibits from across the globe right into your living room or office.  The Google Art Project extension, meanwhile, brings these same art collections right into your Chromebook's browser_ displaying a new piece every time you open a tab.  Aside from just viewing artwork from masters and amateurs alike, the extension also links to more information about each item on the Cultural Institute's site.

14
History Eraser

Chrome natively offers the ability to manage and clear your private data such as browsing history, saved passwords, cache, and cookies.  The History Eraser extension, however, takes that functionality several steps further -- allowing you to back up your history and erase data from any user-specified time period, as opposed to predefined intervals.  Even better, the deletion process can be initiated with just one click on the browser's main toolbar.

15
HTTPS Everywhere

HTTPS, essentially a much more secure version of the standard Hypertext Transfer Protocol utilized for communication between browser and Web server, encrypts the data sent back and forth between the two_ protecting against unwanted packet monitoring as well as some types of potential attacks. With the HTTPS Everywhere extension, many websites that natively use HTTP are automatically switched to HTTPS.  While it doesn't work on all sites, and can actually cause some to render or behave erratically, it is a nice option to have from a privacy/security standpoint and can be toggled on or off very easily.

16
Keepa Price Tracker

If you're anything like me, you do a lot of your shopping on Amazon.  From toiletries to televisions, I've probably ordered something from every category at one time or another.  The Keepa extension, which supports a number of countries, constantly monitors the products that you are interested in and notifies you whenever a price drops to your desired level.  It also allows you to view in-depth charts of pricing history across Amazon, refined to the level that you wish.  Some users have reported minor defects with this extension, but for the most part it has worked well for me and saved me some money along the way.

17
Looper for YouTube

Want to play your favorite song over and over on YouTube?  Don't worry.  You're not alone.  I do the same thing all of the time, which is why I really love the Looper extension.  By adding a Loop button to the player interface, Looper lets you automatically replay the active video as many times as you wish.  It also provides the ability to loop only a specific portion of said video, which can really come in handy.

18
Magic Actions for YouTube

The Magic Actions extension does a great job of adding all of the functionality that you wish YouTube offered on its own, as well as enhancements to the popular video site's interface that include dozens of attractive themes as well as different modes for day and night viewing.  Some notable features include an integrated ad blocker, a filter that automatically plays videos in HD when available, the ability to control volume with your mouse wheel, and a history management interface.  Updated frequently and utilized by millions of Chrome users, Magic Actions for YouTube is a solid addition to your Chromebook extension library.

19
Momentum

Momentum is another extension that replaces Chrome's New Tab page with custom content, this time with an inspirational twist.  Accompanied by sometimes stunning background images and the current time and weather, Momentum also incorporates a to-do list, motivational quotes, and a user-defined goal for the current day.  In addition to helping you get organized, this extension can also provide that extra mental boost to get you moving in the right direction. 

20
OneTab

For multi-taskers or Web surfers who tend to bounce from site to site like a modern-day Q*bert, the invention of tabbed browsing was a godsend.  However, many of us find ourselves with more open tabs than a crowded bar on a Friday_ making it harder to navigate back and forth between them.  In addition to contributing to a cluttered interface, having a large number of tabs open can really be a drain on your Chromebook's memory resources_ occasionally causing your system to slow down to a snail's pace.  Enter the OneTab extension, which allows you to consolidate all of your open tabs into a list -- making it easier to traverse between them.  Perhaps more importantly, once they are added to said list these tabs are no longer treated as open by the browser, cutting down significantly on the amount of memory needed.

21
PanicButton

We've all been there.  You're supposed to be working, doing homework, paying bills, or one of the other less-than-thrilling activities that seem to take up the majority of our time.  All of a sudden our boss, teacher or significant other walks into the room.  Do you slam the Chromebook closed in alarm, looking guilty as sin?  Wouldn't it be bettter if you could just click on a button that would immediately hide all of your open tabs?  The PanicButton extension lets you do exactly that, hiding them in a temporary folder so that they can restored later if you wish.  If you don't have time to reach for the mouse, PanicButton also incorporates a keyboard shortcut into the browser.

22
Photo Zoom for Facebook

Formerly referred to as Facebook Photo Zoom, this well-known extension displays a larger version of an image as soon as you hover your mouse cursor over it.  Unfortunately, Photo Zoom for Facebook is not what it once was -- and does not always work as expected.  Couple that with the fact that, at the time of publication, it has not been updated in almost a year and you're left with an inconsistent user experience.  With that said, it still does the trick for a large number of smaller FB photos.  If you can get past the frustration of the zoom feature working on some photos and not others, it may still be a worthwhile add to your extension collection.  If not, it can be easily removed once installed. 

23
Pushbullet

A must-have extension for Android phone users, Pushbullet lets you view text messages, incoming call information and all other phone notifications right in your Chromebook's browser.  Better yet, you can even reply to said messages from Chrome without having to lay a finger on your phone.  In addition to these handy features, Pushbullet also provides the ability to quickly send links and files from the Chromebook to your phone in mere seconds.

24
RSS Feed Reader

If you're like me you subscribe to a bunch of RSS/Atom feeds, constantly trying to digest the latest developments in your particular areas of interest.  As the number of these subscriptions continues to grow, managing them can become a little overwhelming unless you have the right tools at your disposal.  The RSS Feed Reader extension is one of these tools for Chromebook users, letting you track all of your feeds from a convenient pop-out window accessible from a button next to the browser's address bar.  Read the terms of service carefully before installing it, however, as they do collect a limited amount of data that includes some of your browsing habits.

25
Search by Image

We're all used to searching Google by entering keywords, but what if you wanted to initiate a search simply by clicking on an image?  Perhaps you've come across a photo of a long-lost relative, or stumbled upon a picture of a beautiful landmark, and want to know more about this person or place.  With the Search by Image extension installed, this can all be done with a click of the mouse.  Developed by the Google Images team, this is a must-have for Chromebook users.

26
Session Buddy

One of my favorites, this extension offers full control over your browser sessions by letting you save and access unlimited past sessions from an easy-to-use menu which opens in a new tab.  Speaking of tabs, Session Buddy is not only helpful for recovering your open tabs after a crash or accidental shutdown_ it also lets you organize sites by topic and search them at a later date.  In addition to creating and storing standard browser sessions with open tabs, you can also build and save your own custom sessions from a URL list.

27
Shortcuts for Google

Since you're a Chromebook user, there's a very good chance that you utilize a number of Google services such as Gmail and Drive.  This extension allows you to access basically any Google service, even the lesser-known ones, from a pop-out window accessible on the Chrome browser's main toolbar.  Highly customizable, Shortcuts for Google has a small footprint and is a huge time-saver.

28
Silver Bird

For all of you tweeters out there, Silver Bird lets you view your timeline in a convenient pop-out window accessible via Chrome's main toolbar.  Within this window you can also view direct messages, favorite or retweet others and even compose your own tweets.   It also includes some advanced options including the ability to specify URL shortener and image upload services as well as modify your refresh intervals and API hits per hour.  Unfortunately, at the time of publication, the functionality involving Twitter lists was not working as expected.  Considering the fact that this extension has not been updated since 2013, this limitation may wind up being a permanent one.

29
Speed Dial

Fans of the Opera browser may recognize the name of this extension, whose feature set is similar but author is different.  Speed Dial for Chrome allows you to customize the browser's New Tab page in several ways, including 3D images, custom backgrounds, and multiple sets of your favorite and most visited websites.

30
Super Auto Refresh

Not many things are more frustrating than having to refresh a Web page over and over again.  Whether we're waiting for a score update, a new article to appear, concert tickets to go on sale, or something else entirely, there are many occasions where we have to obsessively click that button or press that key.  The Super Auto Refresh extension eliminates the need for this, continuously refreshing the active page at user-defined intervals_ ranging from two seconds all the way up to once per hour.

31
Todoist

For most of us, keeping track of everything we need to get done on a  daily basis can sometimes prove more daunting than the actual tasks themselves.  I tend to have a lot on my plate, and an office littered with post-it notes and crudely written lists used to be the norm.  The Todoist extension solves all of that, however, organizing even the most hectic schedule into a neat, easy-to-use HTML5 interface_ accessible from right within the Chrome browser.  It even allows for offline access for those occasions when your Chromebook does not have a Wi-Fi connection available.

32
Turn Off the Lights

Chromebook users seeking the full movie theater experience while watching a video on YouTube, Hulu or a number of other websites may really enjoy the Turn Off the Lights extension. Clicking on its button, conveniently placed to the right of Chrome's Omnibox, fades the entire Web page dark_ allowing the video you are watching to be the main attraction.  This visual effect can be toggled on and off at will via this lamp button. In addition to the main feature, the extension also provides a number of other customizable options including atmosphere lighting, eye protection, flash detection, and much more.

33
Wikiwand

Somewhat widely publicized, and for good reason, the Wikiwand extension gives Wikipedia a complete makeover_ providing access to the same content but in a much neater, more attractive format by directing users to the same article that they wish to view on the Wikiwand site.  The extension also makes it easy to load the original article on Wikipedia via a prominently placed link.

34
YoWindow Weather

While certainly not the only weather-related extension available, YoWindow offers some really cool animated visuals that vary by location, time, and of course conditions.  More importantly, however, are the informative and easy-to-read metrics found in the weather station_ provided by the National Weather Service. Displayed in a pop-out accessible by clicking on the extension's button located to the right of the browser's address bar, YoWindow is a nice addition to your Chromebook.

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