12 Free Add-Ons That Will Make Your Browser More Powerful
Welcome to Superuser Skills, a column devoted to making sure you get the most out of the gear you already own.
Web browsers can do a lot right out of the box, but thanks to the huge third-party add-on libraries for both Chrome and Firefox, you can get them to do much more. These extensions help you get around the web faster, add extra security for your online travels, change the look of your browser and much more.
We’ve picked out 12 indispensable add-ons that no browser should be without. You’ll never go back to a plain browser setup again.
There’s not always enough time in the day to get through everything of note you find on the web, which is where Pocket comes in. Use it to store articles and videos for reading and watching later, at your leisure. You can organize saved items using tags, strip away distracting ads and other page clutter, and even get at your article lists from your phone.
Ghostery does a hugely effective job of restricting how advertisers can track your movements online—it blocks a lot of the commonly used scripts and plug-ins that marketers use to work out who you are, and the dashboard that it uses to show you what it’s doing is simple to read. As an added bonus, you’ll find your browsing is quicker too.
3. The Great Suspender
If you use a browser, chances are you tend to have too many tabs open at once. The Great Suspender is one of the best and simplest extensions for doing something about it, and will suspend tabs that have been inactive for a while, freeing up system resources until you need the tab again. If you’re on Firefox, Auto Tab Discard is built along similar lines.
4. Foxy Gestures
Using mouse gestures for key browser commands—forwards, backwards, reload—can genuinely transform the way you get around the web, and for the better: you’ll spend more time reading articles and less time hunting for menu buttons and keyboard shortcuts, and everything is fully customizable. If you’re on Chrome, then give CrxMouse Gestures a try.
Your browser probably already does a decent job of storing passwords and auto-filling forms, but a dedicated password manager like LastPass can offer more features and a more intuitive interface—LastPass is a breeze to use and navigate around, and able to securely store other sensitive information (like passport numbers) alongside passwords.
6. HTTPS Everywhere
HTTPS is the more secure, private version of HTTP, and most sites now support it—though it isn’t always applied (if you follow a link that omits the “S” for example). HTTPS Everywhere works in the background of your browser to make sure that you’re always on the upgraded version of the sites you’re visiting, for extra piece of mind while browsing.
If you do a lot of writing inside your browser then get Grammarly on your side: it’ll keep an eye on your grammar, as the name suggests, but also your spelling and the style and tone that you’re using. The extension works with most websites where text can be entered, and can help you make sure you’re getting your messages across as effectively as possible.
8. Enhancer for YouTube
Don’t settle for the standard YouTube site any longer—use Enhancer For YouTube to upgrade your video streaming experience with extra playback controls, customizable ad removal, preferred playback quality settings, auto-pausing for background tabs, player pinning (so the current video stays on top of other windows), and more besides.
Spending more time on certain sites than you really should? LeechBlock keeps you honest and will restrict access to sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or any URLs that you want to stay away from until the day’s work is done. You can take full control over which sites are blocked and at what times, see statistics on your browsing activity, and much more.
10. Google Translate
Never be stumped by a foreign language in your browser again—the official Google Translate extension will translate words, phrases or entire webpages on demand with just a click or two, and you can even get pronunciation guidance as well if you need it. The official add-on isn’t available for Firefox, but To Google Translate is a good unofficial one.
11. Nimbus Screen Capture
If you need to take screenshots of pages during the course of your browsing, then turn to Nimbus Screen Capture—it offers a whole host of functionality (full screen grabs, partial grabs, simple editing tools, a variety of export options) in an interface that’s accessible and easy to get to grips with. You can record browser activity as a video as well, if you need to.
If you find something that you want to share on the web, then Buffer is one of the quickest and easiest ways to do just that—click the Buffer icon in your browser toolbar to share the current page on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more, without having to visit all those sites individually. Paid-for upgrades are available, but the free version will be fine for most.
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