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Google recently decided to disable the installation of Chrome extensions from third-party websites. This was an expected and arguably necessary change, as such extensions could prove a serious security risk that’s entirely outside of Google’s hands, but some users still want to install extensions from sources other than the Chrome Web Store. Here’s how to do it.

An Introductory Note

Before we get into these instructions, I want to remind you why Google disabled this feature in the first place. Browser extensions, like other programs and extensions, can be a security threat if they behave badly. At the least they can be annoying, serving up extra advertisements that wouldn’t normally appear. At the worst, well — imagine whatever your personal worst-case scenario might be.

What You Need To Do First

Google’s policy is aggressive enough that simply trying to install a .crx file manually to a regular version of Chrome doesn’t work. The browser will notice it’s not in the Chrome Web Store and disable it automatically.

This doesn’t happen, however, if you download the developer version of Google Chrome. You need to grab Chrome from the “dev channel” on the page just linked. Installation is just as normal, but once installed open the menu and go to “About Google Chrome.” The up to date message should now show a version number that ends with “dev-m.”

thirdpartychrome5

Now once again open the menu, and go to Tools-> Extensions and in the extensions page check “developer mode Figure Out Website Problems With Chrome Developer Tools Or Firebug Figure Out Website Problems With Chrome Developer Tools Or Firebug If you've been following my jQuery tutorials so far, you may have already run into some code problems and not known how to fix them. When faced with a non-functional bit of code, it's very... Read More .” And that’s it – you’re now ready to install the extensions.

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Installing The Extension

Once you’ve set up the installation, actually adding the extension is easy. All you need to do is drag-and-drop the .crx file from a folder into the Extensions page. You will receive a permissions pop-up which looks like the one below.

thirdpartychromeextension2

Pay attention to that, since it tells you what the third-party extension can access. There could be some information in there that you don’t want a third party to have, like browsing history (shown above). You’ll need to perform some self-interested risk analysis to decide if the usefulness of the extension outweighs the security risk presented by its permissions.

And that’s it. The extension should start working immediately; in some cases you may need to go to the Extensions page and click on the “Options” area of the extension to perform final setup.

thirdpartychrome4

With this said, my experience installing third-party extensions hasn’t been the most fruitful. Many third-party Chrome extensions do not install correctly or don’t do what they should once they’re installed. Of the extensions I hunted down to test, I experienced a 40% rate of success. In other words, be prepared for some frustration; many third-party extensions have been abandoned by their developers or never worked properly in the first place.

Where To Find Extensions

As you can see, actually installing a third party extension is still simple. The hard part is finding extensions. Here are four sources where I found a variety of .crx extensions.

Chrome Extensions: A somewhat unreliable site that has some working extensions on it. The selection is broad, and many of the extensions useful, but the site doesn’t do much to let you know which are up-to-date and still working.

Github: Searching Github for Chrome Extensions turns up a large number of results. Most of the extensions here are “unpacked” meaning they’re not in .crx format. You’ll have to use the “Load unpacked extension” option to add them.

thirdpartychromeextension3

Reddit: Reddit’s /r/chrome_extensions forum is not particularly popular, but it does include some extensions on it that may be of interest. As with Github, some of the extensions found here will be unpacked.

CNET Downloads: The majority of the extensions here are official, so CNET simply re-directs you to the Chrome Web Store 10 Really Cool Games From The Google Chrome Store [MUO Gaming] 10 Really Cool Games From The Google Chrome Store [MUO Gaming] The Chrome Web Store contains thousands of games - we've dug through them for you and unearthed some gems. Whether you're looking for casual fun, Zen puzzles, rich 3D graphics, arcade-style multiplayer action or interesting... Read More . A few third-party options do exist; you’ll know them because they’ll have a download link instead of a “visit site” button.

You can also try visiting any Chrome extension developer forum, where folks share their works in progress. Of course, these are even more likely than normal to be unstable, so use them at your own risk.

Tell Us About Great Third-Party Extensions

To be frank, Google’s move to make the Chrome Web Store the only source for extensions has been an effective way of killing off third-party extensions. My sense of the third-party scene is that it’s scattered and unreliable, at best; many developers have simply taken the path of least resistance and signed up with the official store.

Still, if you want to install a third-party extension, this is how you do it. Good luck, and if you find any alternative methods, or any sites that have a great selection of third-party apps, be sure to leave a comment! What has your experience been of third-party extensions? Any horror stories? Do tell.

  1. cimmay
    March 28, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    Great help, thanks. Got AMD Steady Video .crx installed. There were alternate instructions, very complex, but I lost them.

  2. Eric Wing
    July 6, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    You can get Tampermonkey from the chrome web store. Its a user script manager. I tried it when they made the change in Chrome and it works really well. Link below.

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/tampermonkey/dhdgffkkebhmkfjojejmpbldmpobfkfo?utm_source=chrome-ntp-icon

  3. A41202813GMAIL
    July 6, 2014 at 5:36 am

    I Am Using CHROME Stable Version 34.0.1847.137.

    I Call CHROME With This Parameter "--Enable-easy-off-store-extension-install".

    Way More Options When Installing Extensions.

    Enjoy.

    • A41202813GMAIL
      July 6, 2014 at 5:50 am

      I Do Not Know Why Your Site Converted What I Wrote Into A Single Strange Character, But The Parameter Begins With A Double Minus Sign "-" + "-".

      What Is Shown Is Very Confusing And Totally Not My Fault.

      Cheers.

  4. TheDatabug
    July 5, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Just tried the above instructions and addon is still blocked even in the dev channel. Looks like I will be sticking with Firefox from now on.

  5. Achyut
    July 4, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Hey, I always use YouTube Centre from userscripts.org..
    Even after enabling developer mode, it just doesnt work. It says "not from chrome web store" and doesn't allow its use.

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