“You live in webapps,” says the homepage of the Minimalist Suite, “Make them yours.” These extensions live up that ideal, allowing you control of what does and doesn’t show up, while also allowing you to change the color schemes and more of these sites. This is perfect for netbook users, who are always looking to save space on their tiny screens, but even desktop users will appreciate reduced clutter in their lives. There are a plethora of Chrome extensions out there that aim to reduce clutter online, and Greasemonkey scripts offer even more ways to strip elements from webpages.
What makes the Minimalist Suite different? Well, first of all, it’s really easy to use. A configuration page allows you to pick what you want to see and what you don’t, and you don’t need a degree in computer science to understand the options. Additionally, unlike other such extensions, you have full control. Which elements of a web app this extension removes is entirely in your hands, so you won’t lose access to the features you love while removing the interface elements that annoy you. Developer Ansel Santosa clearly knows what he’s doing.
Clean up the websites you spend the most time looking at, quickly and easily. All Google plugins work with both the consumer versions and the Google Apps versions, or at least did in my tests.
Head over to the Minimalist Suite and install the plugins you’re interested in. When you do, you’ll notice a grey icon in Chrome’s address bar; this will only show up when you’re on a site Minimalist Suite can edit.
Click this button to bring up your configuration options. Explore the checklists and you’ll see all the custom options explained clearly. If you’re unsure what element a particular checkbox will modify, hover your mouse over it:
A picture will show you what part of the page is being talked about. Obviously the elements that can be removed depend on which service you’re editing.
There is an experimental sync feature for all settings, which makes clever use of Chrome’s built-in bookmark sync to surpass Chrome’s lack of support of extension setting syncing. Very cool if you use more than one computer regularly and want these settings to follow you.
If you’re a Gmail user, it’s likely the thing you spend the most time looking at. For good or for ill, email is the central hub of the modern workflow.
Minimalist for Gmail allows quite a bit of control over the Gmail interface. Highlights include:
- Hiding the entire header, including the Gmail logo and search. Click the top of the window to bring it back, so you don’t lose any features.
- Add attachment icons to emails.
- Hide the annoying “Mail/Contacts/Tasks” menu.
- Hide Chat completely.
- Hide Gmail’s footer.
- Much more; browse all options here.
Remember when Facebook was clean and utilitarian? Me too, but those days are long gone. Luckily there’s Minimalist for Facebook, which cuts through the crap and presents you with the information you’re looking for. Be warned: this is a beta extension, so use at your own risk.
There are a lot of things you can control here. Highlights include:
- Change the color of Facebook’s top bar.
- Block updates from applications and pages.
- Remove the (largely useless) right bar from Facebook.
- Hide the Facebook logo.
- Show large photos when you hover your mouse over a thumbnail.
- Much more; explore all options here.
A calendar should, ideally, just show you what’s coming up and stay out of your way. With Minimalist for Google Calendar, that’s possible.
- Hide the top bar; bring it back by clicking the top of the window.
- Hide any navigation buttons you never use.
- Hide left sidebar; perfect if you only use one calendar.
- Much more; explore all options here.
Can’t live with your RSS feeds? You might well be a Google Reader user, then. Strip down unused Reader interface elements with Google Reader. Highlighted potential changes include:
- Remove or hide the header to save vertical space.
- Hide the navigation so you can focus on just reading.
- Hide all icons, or dim them.
- Hide right toolbar.
- Much more; Explore all options here.
I’m a netbook user, so these extensions are perfect for me. What about you? Do you like being able to remove elements from webapps, or do you prefer not to mess with things? Fill us in below, in the comments.
Want your favorite program to be made minimal? As it turns out you can vote for your favorite candidate. Highlights include Google Voice, Wikipedia and Remember The Milk, so fans of any of these sites should vote now.