Have you heard of HoverCards? No? I hadn’t either. Some extensions are like that. You don’t know you need them until you stumble across them or someone recommends them to you. And then you wonder how you got by without those extensions and ask why someone didn’t come up with them sooner.
Let’s take a look at eight such useful, but lesser-known Chrome extensions that you probably haven’t thought to look for.
When you want to look up a word or a phrase that you have come across on a web page, here’s what you usually do: you select the relevant text, open Bing, DuckDuckGo, Wikipedia, etc. in a new tab, copy-paste the selected text there, and hit the search button.
That’s a roundabout way of doing things. Well, at least after you have discovered Context Menu Search. This extension allows you to search for the selected text using the context menu (right-click menu) i.e. without leaving the page that you’re on.
Which search engine options you’d like to see in the context menu and whether you want the search results to open in a focused tab or a background tab is up to you. Click on the Options link listed below the search engines in the context menu to set up custom search engines and specify tab behavior preferences. You can also open the extension’s preferences by going to chrome://extensions and clicking on the Options link under Context Menu Search.
If you want to highlight all instances of a specific word on a web page, hitting Ctrl + F works, but we’ll give you something better: Twinword Finder. With this extension, you can highlight instances of multiple words in one shot; each word is highlighted in a different color. To bring up the search box, click on the extension’s toolbar icon.
Twinword Finder can also highlight synonyms and other keywords related to your search keyword. All you have to do is hit Enter in the extension’s search box. This highlights related paragraphs in yellow and gives you a list of related keywords on the right. Click on any of the listed keywords to zoom in on all instances of it on the page.
The keyboard shortcut for Twinword Finder — Shift + Ctrl + F — is not too difficult to remember. Just add the Shift key to the usual search shortcut (Ctrl + F).
HoverCards can help you reduce tab traffic in Chrome. It allows you to see what’s behind links from YouTube, Reddit, Instagram, Twitter, SoundCloud, and Imgur in popup cards. No need to open new tabs to check out those links, which means less tab clutter. You can even play YouTube videos within the hover cards.
Each link’s hover card comes with a Click For More button that displays more relevant information about that link in a new popup. For example, if you click that button when you’re viewing the hover card for an Instagram photo, you’ll see Instagram comments for that photo as well as any mention of it on Reddit and Twitter.
The hover cards also work for user profiles. In this case, the Click For More button reveals the latest feed for that profile in a popup.
Hundreds of paid Google Apps tutorials are now at your fingertips for free via the Synergyse Chrome extension, all thanks to Google’s acquisition of Synergyse.
— Susan F. Reeves (@susanfreeves) May 2, 2016
Once you install the Chrome extension and log into your Google account, you’ll be able to access app-specific training modules through the Synergyse icon at the top right within any Google app. Click on the icon and you’ll see a fly-out sidebar with a collapsible list of available training modules for that app. Each nested link opens a how-to session that walks you through the app’s features and functions.
What’s particularly useful about Synergyse training is that it takes place inside the app itself and is interactive. So, for example, if the lesson talks about a particular toolbar button, it highlights the button within the app, tells you what the button does, and invites you to click on it.
Chrome Web Store is overflowing with new tab extensions. Tabtics is one of them, but it goes beyond sprucing up new tabs. It nudges you toward a healthier, more productive day through gentle reminders with every new tab. You can also integrate Tabtics with Fitbit if you want to.
— Bettie Sotomayor (@me100finn) February 20, 2016
Yes, Tabtics is somewhat like Momentum, but while Momentum focuses on to-dos and inspiration, Tabtics focuses on tiny changes that you can make for the sake of your health and productivity. It reminds you about things like turning off notifications, using F.lux to reduce eye strain, and going for walks. Check out this tip it had for me:
The only gripe I have with Tabtics is that it doesn’t display my location accurately.
How many times have you had to delete and retype passwords because you might have mistyped a character or two? Plenty, right? You don’t need to do that anymore. Install ShowPassword and you’ll be able to see the password that you have typed by hovering the mouse over the password field. Great for fixing typos in passwords without starting from scratch!
To customize the trigger for the password display, go to Options from ShowPassword’s toolbar icon dropdown menu. There, you can choose from one of four options: Mouse over, Double Click, On Focus, and Hitting Ctrl Key. You can also tweak the duration for which the password stays visible.
How much will the new iPhone that you’re planning to buy cost you? Not in dollars or any other currency, but in (wo)man-hours. We’re asking how much time you’ll have to spend working to earn the equivalent of the iPhone’s cost.
Time Is Money is here to tell you that. It converts prices online into work hours based on your hourly wage or annual income. There’s not much to figure out once you install the extension. You’ll get a prompt to enter your hourly wage and save it. You can add recurring expenses to the mix if you want to.
The next time you see a price tag online, right next to it you’ll also see how many work hours it’s worth for you. Gives a whole new perspective on both your time and your money, right?
Time Is Money does the price-to-hours conversion automatically. That’s if you haven’t unchecked the box next to Auto-convert on its Options page. If you have, you’ll need to click on the extension’s toolbar icon to trigger the conversion on each page.
Sideplayer is a floating player for YouTube videos. Translation: you can watch a YouTube video in a tiny, always-on-top side window from any web page that you’re on. This is quite handy when you’re, say, learning HTML from a YouTube tutorial and don’t want to switch back and forth between your online code editor and YouTube as you practice.
Youtube's "Play in Sideplayer" is a game-changer for my workday. Well…those workdays when I'm not in meetings.
— Derek Brown (@derekbrown) January 25, 2016
Installing Sideplayer adds a Play in Sideplayer button beneath every video on YouTube. Click on this button when you’re playing a video to have it play in a popup window at the top right. Feel free to switch tabs. The playing video will follow you across them.
Note: Restart Chrome after installing Sideplayer. Also, wait for the YouTube page to load completely before you bring up Sideplayer. You might see an error message otherwise.
Chrome Extensions Win Again!
The Chrome Web Store is a bottomless pit of apps, extensions, and themes. We’d encourage you to keep exploring it. You never know which gem you’ll walk away with on any given day.
Can you surprise us with a useful extension or two that we hadn’t imagined would exist? We’d love to be surprised.
Image Credit: surprised young woman by avemario via Shutterstock