Browser Extensions Can Make Internet Surfing Awesome

| November 30, 2012

There’s a clear difference between “a computer” and “your computer.” The difference is made in a number of different ways, but one of the clearest ways is how your browser is set up. As we tend to use our web browsers for 90% of the time spent on our computers, the exact way that it is configured is a digital “fingerprint” for who we are.

Most people have very few extensions installed onto their browser. For many people, this may be on purpose. Perhaps they don’t do anything but checking their email or browsing Facebook, or Googling things when they need to know. But if you spend a lot of time in your browser for a lot of different things, extensions can make a world of difference in your efficiency.

Mozilla reports that more than 85% of Firefox users have installed extensions. Firefox is famous for inventing the idea and making it available to the general public. All modern browsers have some form of extensions. You can browse available extensions based on your browser: https://addons.mozilla.org for Firefox, https://chrome.google.com/webstore for Chrome and http://www.iegallery.com/PinnedSites -> Add-Ons for Internet Explorer. If you sort by “Most Popular” on these sites, you’ll see which extensions have been installed by the most people, or you can search for a specific feature.

My favorite and by far the most popular add-on is Adblock Plus. It disables banner ads, pop-up ads, and even the advertising videos on YouTube that you usually sit through or click “skip” on after a few seconds. It’s available for both Firefox and Chrome.

Another great extension is LastPass, which stores and encrypts passwords and can pre-fill passwords when you visit the sites, which allows you to create complex passwords and not have to worry about remembering them.

If you do a lot of reading articles online, and often find yourself running out of time before you get to all the articles that you want, install Readability in Chrome. You can lick the icon to strip out all the ads and just read the text of the website. You can lick “read later” to save the article or “send to Kindle” to read the article on your eReader if you have one.

Extensions like Greasemonkey for Firefox or Stylish for Chrome let you customize how various sites look, and you can apply rules to make sure that the web shows up just the way you want to.

If you do a lot of online shopping, install Shopping Assistant. If you’re on a retailer’s website, it will show you similar products at other online retailers and you can see if there are better deals elsewhere. It also gives you a history of the item’s price on Amazon so you can see if there’s a best time to get the optimal deal.

Browse through extensions to find something that fits you! There’s hundreds of thousands available. Just make sure to remove the ones you don’t use, and don’t go too far overboard. It might slow down your computer if you have too many.

Category: Browsers

Andrea Eldridge

About the Author ()

Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, an on-site computer and laptop repair service company for consumers and businesses. Andrea established the company with her husband, Ryan, from a spare room in their home in Redding, Calif., in March 2004. Andrea is the writer of two weekly columns, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight, and Computer Nerds On Call for the Scripps-Howard News Service. Contact Eldridge at www.callnerds.com/andrea.

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