Tired of using ugly websites? Change them with these apps, browser extensions and bookmarklets.
Whether you want your co-workers to not notice you’re reading BuzzFeed or just wish you could read an article without distracting sidebars and widgets, today’s Cool Websites and Apps offers tools we’ve never covered that make the web more pleasant.
Shine For Reddit (Chrome): A Much Better Reddit Interface
Love Reddit, but wish it wasn’t so ugly? Shine For Reddit gives your favorite time sink a two-pane makeover.
As you can see, the left panel is the usual list of links. The right panel includes comments and, for sites like YouTube and Imgur, the content that’s being linked to. Even better, there’s support for keyboard shortcuts and more advanced features not seen in other extensions for the site.
We’ve shown you how to use Reddit like a boss, and the tools we outlined there are great. Shine For Reddit has a clear edge when it comes to appearance, though, so be sure to check it out.
McReadability (Bookmarklet): Extracts Article, Presents With Columns
Some sites really like to load on the clutter. Sidebars, popups and worse can make it impossible to focus on what you are reading. McReadability is a bookmarklet that extracts articles from cluttered pages and re-arranges them into columns.
We’ve shown you how bookmarklets can boost your web surfing speed and productivity, and adding another to your arsenal is always nice. The column layout is fantastic if you have trouble parsing wide paragraphs.
Timesify: Disguise The Stupid Crap You’re Reading
There are a lot of gossip sites on the web that, while objectively terrible, are also terribly entertaining. If you’d like to read these at work without your co-workers judging you, Timesify can make any article you’re reading look like it’s from the New York Times. Let the extension’s creator explain:
It’s all very tongue and cheek, and mostly intended to be a joke, but who knows? Maybe some of you will find it useful. Let me know if you do in the comments below.
Wallabag: Open Source Alternative to Instapaper and Pocket
Millions of users love “read later” services like Pocket and Instapaper, which save clutter-free versions of articles to a site or app where you can read them later. The web is full of articles that are well worth reading, but actually getting work done means sometimes you need to put off that reading until later.
If you like this concept, but would prefer not to send your reading list to a third party company, Wallabag lets you host such a service yourself. If you’re concerned about privacy, this is the real deal.
— Dhananjay Balan (@notmycommit) May 26, 2015
The service supports importing your collection of bookmarks from Instapaper or Pocket. The service is even multi-user, meaning you could set it up on a web server for yourself and offer accounts to your friends. There are even apps capable of connecting to your server, for all major platforms (mobile and desktop).
Note that you’ll need a working web server to install the full version, but there’s also a hosted option if you’d prefer not to mess with the setup phase.
Rdio Mini Player (Chrome): Simple Way to Control Rdio
If you leave way too many tabs open (and I know you do), figuring out where the controls for your music are can be frustrating. If you’re an Rdio listener, this mini player can help.
It sits in Chrome’s extension area, meaning the ability to pause and skip tracks is always two clicks away. Stop digging through your tabs.
How Do You Transform The Web?
We love customizing the web and make it our own. Using Evernote Clearly to reduce clutter or Safari’s reader mode quickly makes reading any website more pleasant, and there are a lot more tools out there for the job.
So I want to know: what tools do you use to clean up the web? Let’s talk about them in the comments below. You should also feel free to tell me what I should round up in future editions of Cool Websites and Apps.