Essential add-ons for Chrome, Firefox and IE
There are so many plugins, add-ons, extensions and toolbars available for the major browsers that it can be tempting to simply ignore them all in favour of a easy, uncluttered life.
Yet many of these add-ons can be incredibly useful, providing better integration with your favourite web services and plugging gaps in your browser’s functionality.
To save you the chore of wading through the Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer extension galleries, we’ve picked out 20 of the very best utilities you can get your hands on, and they’re all free to use. If you have any plugins of your own to recommend, do let us know in the comments.
Buffer’s primary purpose is to pad out your social media sharing across the day, letting you queue up tweets and Facebook posts. It also makes sharing across multiple networks easy and includes built-in analytics too.
With browsers now remembering your passwords automatically, you don’t need a separate extension… or do you? LastPass offers a huge number of features, including cross-platform compatibility and enhanced security.
3. Google Dictionary
On today’s modern web, spelling checks and word definitions are never far away, but the Google Dictionary extension for Chrome makes life as easy as possible. Simply double-click on a word to see a definition window pop up.
5. Wikipedia Visual Search
This extension adds another option to your list of search providers in Internet Explorer. Wikipedia Visual Search lets you see at a glance the encyclopaedia entries that match your search terms, including a thumbnail picture for easy reference.
Pocket is a place to save everything you want to look, but don’t have time for right now. Using the browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, and the bookmarklet for IE, you can save articles, images, videos and more.
If Pocket is a little too loud and flashy for your tastes, try Instapaper. Instapaper converts any online article into a cleanly rendered, minimal page. There’s an extension for Chrome, and a bookmarklet for other browsers.
Give your Gmail contacts a social media boost with Rapportive, which pulls in details from Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, Twitter and more to add extra information to the right-hand pane. Firefox and Chrome compatible.
9. RSS Subscription Extension
Google Reader may be gone, but the company’s RSS Subscription Extension lives on. Install this utility in Chrome to instantly access all of the available feeds on a page, without having to hunt around to find the relevant links.
10. Share on Facebook
Found something you just can’t wait to tell friends and family about on Facebook? Share on Facebook is an Internet Explorer Accelerator (a fancy name for an extension), which allows you to share a link or picture from the browser’s right-click menu.
11. Click & Clean
As you may have gathered from the name, Lazarus brings your work back from the dead. If you’re filling out a long form or document and your browser crashes, Lazarus can retrieve your data. Lazarus is available for Firefox and Chrome.
Almost every website out there is trying to track your activity and collect data on you. Disconnect (for Chrome and Firefox) shines some light on this murky practice, giving you more control and speeding up your browsing too.
Shopping online can be just as much of a chore as trailing down the high street, but InvisibleHand is here to help. It instantly compares prices across 600+ retailers, so you can always get the best price. For Firefox and Chrome.
DownThemAll is the essential tool for downloading everything at once from a particular page on the web. This Firefox add-on will scoop up links, images and other types of content. You can pick and choose what to save, or get it all with one click.
16. The Great Suspender
If you’re something of a tab hoarder you can quickly end up with dozens of websites open, and that slows your browser down. The Great Suspenderextension can temporarily suspend tabs until you need them and free up memory space.
17. Chrome To Phone
Shareaholic lets you instantly share anything you find on the web with your followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and many other networks. The extension is available for all the major browsers.
19. Save To Google Drive
Many of you who use Chrome will also use Google’s storage platform. The Save to Google Drive add-on lets you save text and images straight to Google Drive from your browser (you would never have guessed with a name like that). HTML pages can be saved as images or in a Google Drive format.
If the boss, your other half, your kids or your parents catch you looking at something you shouldn’t be, PanicButton hides all of your open Chrome tabs in a flash. There is a Firefox equivalent available from a different developer.