Links are everywhere. That link to an article someone shared on Facebook. The link your boss just emailed you to read. And well, all those links on Reddit! Now you don’t have to move away from the page to read those, thanks to two cool extensions for Google Chrome.
SwiftPreview [No Longer Available] and HoverReader might seem similar but are actually quite different and will be useful based on what your needs are. HoverReader is the new kid on the block and SwiftPreview has been around for a long time, but each will find its own audience.
The clue is in the name here. HoverReader is all about reading and not so much about anything else. If you often visit news sites, you would know that they are populated with links that only have short articles.
With HoverReader, you can just hover the mouse cursor over any link for a few seconds and you will see a preview pane with the article neatly formatted for pleasurable reading. As Digital Inspiration points out, the extension uses Readability to improve web page legibility by stripping away ads and other non-pertinent content, finally delivering just the article with the associated images and videos. You can scroll through the article using your keyboard’s arrow keys, but moving with your mouse usually causes the pane to go away.
The videos don’t always work smoothly, though. Generally, YouTube and Vimeo embedded videos work fine, but if a site uses a proprietary player like the BBC does, then the preview pane won’t always let you play that video.
Still, HoverReader works perfectly with most websites and delivers a fantastic reading experience. It even works on social networks, so you don’t have to click a link in Facebook or Twitter to read the whole article, you can quickly preview it without leaving your timeline.
HoverReader’s options let you change the font (Arial, Times New Roman, Helvetica) and the size for your reading preferences. Another nice addition is the ability to disable the extension on certain websites, so you aren’t bothered by a preview pane if you don’t want it. However, there is no way to temporarily disable it.
Download: HoverReader for Google Chrome
HoverReader is specifically targetted towards the user who wants to read. If you want to do more than reading with your link previews, SwiftPreview is a better option.
Unlike HoverReader, this extension does not strip away other content on the page but instead delivers the full web page. Also unlike HoverReader, it works with more than just articles. Like Hover Zoom [No Longer Available], it can preview images by hovering over a thumbnail or a link, and do the same with YouTube and Vimeo videos too. This makes it an invaluable extension to have on a site like Reddit, and it’s further enhanced by its settings.
In SwiftPreview’s preferences, you can set the size of the default preview pane as well as how many seconds you need to hover before it activates. The better option, though, is the ability to press the Shift key to activate SwiftPreview—without that key pressed, you can hover over any link normally.
SwiftPreview also has the option to dock any preview pane. Hit the Ctrl key and the pane will stay static, almost like you opened a mini-tab. You can safely scroll in this, but any links you click in the pane will have to open in a new tab in your main Chrome window.
Download: SwiftPreview for Chrome [No Longer Available]
Which Preview Extension Is Right For You?
If you are someone who often visits news websites or reads articles more often than merely checking out images and videos on the web, then HoverReader is right for you. It’s lighter than SwiftPreview and it formats the text for a better reading experience.
If your internet use is wider than just articles and you are often clicking on images and memes and videos, then you are well suited to SwiftPreview. The inclusion of the Shift and Ctrl key modifiers only goes to make it a more robust option for power users.
A Question For Firefox Users
Although there are some cool Firefox add-ons, neither of the above two extensions are available for Mozilla’s browser. There isn’t much to separate Firefox and Chrome as browsers now, so would tools like SwiftPreview or HoverReader make you switch? If not, why not? Make your case in the comments below!
Image Credit: svilen001