Cheaper Computers-1

This Monday, March 30, 2015 photo shows a Hisense Chrome laptop in San Francisco. Google and Microsoft are releasing cheaper laptops and tablets in an effort to reach students, budget-conscious families and overseas markets. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Over the past few years, I’ve seen Google Chrome overtake Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and replacement browser Edge by working professionals. Across the U.S., Chrome is used by three times as many people as Edge and IE combined, according to StatCounter. Many people use Chrome just as it is, but did you know you can customize Google Chrome to better fit your needs? And it’s a simple process — no coding or expense required.

The Chrome Web Store is the source for customization, but navigating through the tens of thousands of extensions is daunting. Here I’ll give you a look at the most useful extensions. These extensions can be installed on Chrome for Windows, MacOS, Linux and Chrome OS-based devices such as Chromebooks.

There are an infinite number of tables across the internet that you may find useful for data analysis and projections related to your job. To compile tables into one workable spreadsheet, you can use an extension such as DataMiner or Table Capture to do it. Either of these will convert a table to a .csv file for immediate download. Bring one or more into Google Sheets or Microsoft Office Excel and you’ve got a spreadsheet that’s easy to manipulate and add to as needed.

For a quick-read news aggregator, an RSS feed can’t be beat. I know there are many news apps out there, and I do use Apple News on my phone, but it’s too easy to get distracted by stories that have nothing to do with work. Feedly has become the RSS reader of choice since Google Reader was discontinued in 2013. With this extension, you can open a small window in your browser for a quick scan, and you’ll see a Feedly Mini icon in the bottom-right corner of websites with compatible RSS feeds, making it easy to add new sources to your news feed.

For people who have experienced the panic that ensues following a server crash — that product review you just finished fine tuning is lost — Lazarus is a valuable extension. Lazarus automatically saves information you enter into various web forms, so that they aren’t lost when your browser crashes or the site times out from an internal security measure. While this is an fairly narrow use case, it’s always a good idea to copy emails in progress to a text application until you’ve hit send. I have lost a number of reports in Outlook email and am always grateful I made a backup.

If you Chrome begins to slow down as you open too many tabs, you will find OneTab a useful add-on. OneTab consolidates all of your open tabs into a single quick-access list. It can help you navigate from one site to another without experiencing a lag.

Are you a person who likes scheduled breaks and needs support in keeping distractions to a minimum? (This one will also be useful for any students in the house.) Try Strict Workflow. The extension automatically blocks any non-related work pages that you select for 25 minutes. Then it will give you five minutes of free time to browse other sites of your choice, followed by another 25-minute work period.

The web is full of tiny thumbnail images that can make it very difficult to know whether or not an image clicks to content you want to see. With Hover+ you can place your cursor over a linked thumbnail picture and see it in a pop-up window. I particularly like this one as a security measure because it decreases the risk of visiting a malicious website.

There are times when you need an expert to take a look at something that’s gone awry on your computer. For freelancers or others who work at home, this means reaching out to someone some distance away. While there are many remote-access desktop services, an easy and free solution is Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop, which works on all types of devices including PCs and Macs.

Once you’ve added extensions to Chrome, you may decide you don’t like one, and that’s OK because removing them is easy. Go to your Chrome settings in the upper righthand corner of the browser window. Open More Tools and then Extensions. Here you can see a list of all of your extensions and disable or delete the ones you no longer need.

Leslie Meredith has designed several international websites and now runs marketing for a global events company. She writes about personal technology. You can email her at

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