15 Can’t-Miss Chrome Extensions for Productivity
More Google gold for you! You listed some of your favorite Chrome extensions in one of our recent polls and Dave turned them into a handy list . Today we bring you a few more essential extensions geared toward helping you work better online.
For Keeping To-do Lists
When you first sit down to work, use Dayboard to list your 5 Most Important Tasks or MITs for the day. Dayboard displays this to-do list every time you open a new tab. Nothing like a constant visual reminder to keep you focused on work!
For Blocking Distractions
With StayFocusd, you can get online distractions out of your system by indulging in them for a bit. Put sites like Facebook and Twitter on the extension’s Blocked Sites list. If you spend more than a certain duration of time on any of the sites on this list, StayFocusd will block your access to all of them for the rest of the day. You have the option of setting up the days and hours when you need StayFocusd to be active.
I love the StayFocusd Chrome extension; I have it block all distracting sites after 10 cumulative minutes each day. http://t.co/Hs0CkjZqpO
— Bob Moore (@robertjmoore) February 9, 2015
Who’s to stop you from tweaking the time limits or disabling StayFocusd whenever you feel like it? You could add chrome://extensions to your blocked sites and/or hide the settings section behind a text-based challenge. This will make cheating that much more difficult and annoying.
For Saving Keystrokes
Install: Auto Text Expander for Google Chrome
Work faster and give your hands some rest by using a text expansion and replacement software. Auto Text Expander is a good Chrome-based choice, especially if you’re a Chromebook user.
There’s not much to the extension. You add shortcuts for text snippets that you use often. Every time you type that shortcut, it’s replaced by the expanded version. Do back up your snippets to a text file for emergencies.
For Reading Things Later
Install: Save to Pocket
Pocket is a fantastic bookmarking service. It’s useful when you’re distracted by online content in the middle of work. Just save the Web page with the one-click Save to Pocket Chrome extension.
Use the toolbar button, a keyboard shortcut, or the context menu for quick bookmarking. Add tags to make your bookmarks easy to search later. The pages appear in your Pocket account, which gets synced across all your devices.
For Decluttering Tabs
If your work depends on Web-based tools and information, you’re likely to have a crazy number of tabs open when you’re working. But those tabs turn into one big memory drain.
A simple way to ease tab clutter and save on memory is by using OneTab. Any time you click on the OneTab icon, it organizes all your open tabs into a list. You can then recall tabs as and when you need them.
For Decluttering Web Pages
Install: Clearly [No Longer Available]
Say you’re doing some research. You don’t want your attention to stray to unimportant Web page elements like those clickable buttons in the sidebar. Then you can hide them with Evernote’s Clearly extension. It cleans up Web pages and presents their main content in a minimalist, easy-to-read format.
Install the extension and whenever you want a decluttered Web page, click on Clearly’s toolbar button when you’re on that page. You can also choose from a few themes, highlight content, and even connect Clearly to your Evernote account.
For Organizing Your Ideas
Install: Note Board
A cork board on your computer screen—that’s what Note Board is. Use it to keep track of your ideas in the form of digital sticky notes. Pin them to the board and move them around as your thought process evolves.
There are five boards organized side by side. Notes can be in the form of text and images. It’s also possible to draw your ideas right onto a note. Note Board includes both local and cloud storage options.
You can open the extension as a tab or as a popup. The popup option did not work for me, but that comes across as a minor glitch. If the popup isn’t working for you either, keep the extension open as a pinned tab for quick access to your ideas.
For Organizing Your Research
Install: Diigo Web Collector – Capture and Annotate [No Longer Available]/strong>
Social bookmarking website Diigo has some powerful features to help you conduct any kind of online research. Its Chrome extension makes it easy to organize your research as you go along. Bookmark pages for later, group them, annotate them, and share them. You can even add in-page highlights as reminders.
Late to the party, but I really like that Diigo's Chrome Extension can now annotate PDF's. http://t.co/NTjQbpdPEh
— Michael Walker (@micwalker) April 16, 2015
You will need a Diigo account to use the extension. If you have a Google account, you can connect the extension to that instead.
Install: Quick Write Text Editor
Quick Write is a pleasant, clutter-free text editor with a minimal feature set. You can change the font, background color, and text direction. That’s about it. Quick Write auto-saves text and displays line and character count. It works offline and is ideal for quick note-taking. Again, a great choice for Chromebook users.
For Capturing and Annotating Screenshots
Install: Awesome Screenshot: Screen Capture, Annotate [No Longer Available]
Awesome Screenshot is a popular, versatile tool for capturing images and tweaking them to include your notes. You can blur sensitive info on images, add annotations, and share them in a single click. Save captured screenshots to Google Drive, your Awesome Screenshot account, or to local storage.
For Working in Bursts of Time
Install: Simple Pomodoro [No Longer Available]
Often, it’s the tools that do “just one thing well” that help you get your work done. Simple Pomodoro, based on the efficient Pomodoro technique, is one such tool. There are other interesting timers on the Chrome Web Store, but we think Simple Pomodoro’s no-frills approach is just what you need for a productive work session.
All you can do via the toolbar button is set the timer (in intervals of 5′, 10′, 15′, and 25′) or reset it. The extension uses an audio cue and a text pop-up to notify you when your time’s up.
For Making Pages Ready to Print
Install: PrintFriendly and PDF
If you’re printing out Web pages or saving them as PDFs, you’ll want to clean them up a bit first. Do that with PrintFriendly and PDF, which removes ads and other unwanted Web page elements.
When you click the extension’s toolbar button, it presents the current Web page in a print-ready format. You can then print it, save it as a PDF, or share it via email. The extension allows you to remove individual page elements before printing. It also comes in a bookmarklet format.
For Managing Your Inbox
Install: Sortd Smart Skin for Gmail
Email is a necessary evil in these times, but you don’t have to lose your productivity to it. Get Sortd Smart Skin for Gmail. It turns your Gmail inbox into a Trello-like task board .
Your emails appear in the left pane. In the right pane you’ll find a set of lists that you can drag and drop emails to, based on how you want to process them. Group emails, snooze them, highlight them, and add notes to them to keep things organized and scannable.
Sortd is not perfect, but it does a pretty good job of taming your inbox.
For All-in-one Productivity
Install: Limitless [No Longer Available]
Limitless turns the New Tab page into a powerful dashboard. To-do list feature? Check. Time tracking for websites? Check. Setting up reminders and countdowns? Check. Bookmarks? Check. Encouraging quotes? Check. If you had to install just one extension from this list to boost your productivity, we recommend Limitless.
For Managing Extensions
Extensions can speed up your workflow a great deal. But, if you have too many of them installed, Chrome is bound to slow down. The extensions also create visual clutter by hogging space on the toolbar. Before such annoyances force you to ditch Chrome , learn to manage extensions the smart way. Install SimpleExtManager. It gives you a handy dropdown menu to enable/disable your extensions, apps, and themes.
A Little Restraint With Extensions
Extensions are the best feature of Chrome. No matter how many you have installed, you’re always ready to try more. But it would be ironic if you got nothing done because you were busy fiddling with productivity extensions. Please, add only a select few that can have a powerful impact on the way you work.
Which are your favorite Chrome extensions for productivity? Which of them have transformed your workflow? Do share them in the comments. We’d like to know.