Five(ish) More “Must-Have” Google Chrome Extensions

Hurray for summer!

When the school year wraps up, I like to catch up on my reading backlog. I also engage in a little summertime learning and exploring. I especially like finding new tools and ideas that will make the next school year even easier. Those all came together as I dug into my backlog of blog reading!

What are “browser extensions”?

The Chrome Web Store’s Extensions home page

One of the great things about modern web browsers (particularly Chrome) is that it’s easy to add enhanced functionality with extensions. A visit to the Chrome Web Store’s Extensions section provides users with one-click access to a host of features and services. Once you add an extension, you usually get a new button or icon in the upper-right corner of your browser, just after the URL bar. Clicking the button activates the extension; right-clicking offers options menus, including “Hide in Chrome menu,” which keeps the extension installed but moves the icon behind the triple-dot “Customize and Control” button at the far-upper-left.

Chrome web browser's "triple dot" menu provides access to hidden extensions.

Chrome web browser’s “triple dot” menu provides access to hidden extensions.

In March, Margaret Sullivan shared “Five ‘Must Have’ Google Chrome Extensions.” She offered some fine choices, but her list was also missing a few Chrome extensions I can’t live without. I’ve already written about Library Extension, but here are five(ish) more great Chrome extensions:

Send with Gmail

“Send with Gmail” extension icon

This is a very simple Google-created extension that I use all the time. As I’m browsing the web, I come across a great article or idea that I want to share with a colleague. I click the “Send from Gmail” extension button, and a Gmail Compose window pops up. The subject line (which can be customized) auto-populates with the title of the page or article. The body of the email pre-populates with a link to the page. I add an email address and a little clarifying body text, then hit “Send.” Voila! That link is shared through Gmail!

"Send with Gmail" opens a new Compose window with the subject and body pre-populated.

“Send with Gmail” opens a new Compose window with the subject and body pre-populated.

Lightshot screenshot tool

Lightshot icon

There are lots of screenshot tools, but I find myself coming back to this one. Click the icon, and Lightshot makes a copy of the window you’re looking at. Click and drag your cursor to select the part of the screen you want to preserve. You can then add annotations, overlay shapes, highlight portions–mark up the screen as you wish! When you’re done, hit the Save button, and a .PNG image file will download to your computer. It’s great for creating follow-along guides for digital processes or projects.

Lightshot lets you select how much of the window to grab, and allows the addition of text, arrows, and boxes.

Lightshot lets you select how much of the window to grab, and allows the addition of text, arrows, and boxes.

Loom Screencast

Loom screencast icon

Speaking of great tools for creating follow-along tutorials, there’s Loom Screencast! Set up a free account at www.Loom.com, then you have one-click access to screen recording that saves to your account. Record your full desktop or just your browser window. Choose whether or not you want to include your smiling face via camera. Reposition your camera image with drag-and-drop ease. Pause recording. It’s fast and easy! While the features are not as robust as paid screencasting software, Loom has recently added some new options, with more promised. Plus, it’s super-quick and easy to use! (Screencastify is also pretty great!)

Loom allows screencasting with options for audio and camera-capture video.

Loom allows screencasting with options for audio and camera-capture video.

AdBlock

AdBlock icon

Did you know this tool blocks YouTube ads from playing? That alone makes this tool worth it! AdBlock also prevents ads from appearing on pages as you browse. (At least, it does for now; Google might change that in the future…) This extension allows you to “whitelist” sites whose ads you want to see; many ask you to do so to help them preserve their online revenues. You can also pause ad blocking on specific sites, or on all sites.

Comparison of a web page with and without AdBlock running.

Comparison of a web page with and without AdBlock running.

Bitmoji

Bitmoji icon

It’s always nice to add a fun graphic to documents or communications, especially those meant for students. Bitmoji lets you add a cartoon avatar of yourself to whatever you’re working on. It offers dozens of fun little images of your avatar in different outfits and situations, along with a search bar to help you find just what you’re looking for. You have to sign up for a free Bitmoji account first. Then you build your avatar, playing with hair, eyes, skin tone, and your primary outfit. Once you’ve created your avatar, you can drag images from the extension into whatever you’re working on. Bitmoji also integrates with Gmail so you can easily add your avatar to emails!

Once you create your avatar, Bitmoji puts it into lots of fun situations, which you can drag and drop into all your documents, presentations, websites, etc.

Once you create your avatar, Bitmoji puts it into lots of fun situations, which you can drag and drop into all your documents, presentations, websites, etc.

Project Naptha

Project Naptha icon

Have you ever come across some text online that you’d love to copy into a document, but you can’t because it’s in an image file rather than a text file? This tool lets you extract text from images. For instance, say you come across a photo that includes a block of text. You’d like to copy-and-paste the text to incorporate into a document or presentation. Project Naptha is designed to let you do that! While I wouldn’t call it perfect, it certainly is better than having to transcribe the text manually.

Project Naptha's explanation of how their tool functions.

Project Naptha’s explanation of how their tool functions.

BONUS!

As you add more extensions, you might want the ability to quickly access and control them all. So here’s an extension-wrangling extension!

Extensity

Extensity icon

This extension lets you toggle extensions on or off without having to dig into settings or menus. This is particularly great if you have a ton of extensions. It lets you turn off the ones you’re not using to speed up your browsing. It’s also handy if you have trouble with pages not loading or working correctly. This is often caused by an extension conflicting with something on the page. Extensity lets you turn off all extensions with one click. Then you can add them back one at a time until you find the one that’s breaking the page.

From the Extensity list, click an extension to disable it. Extensity grays out extensions that aren't enabled; click them again to re-enable.

From the Extensity list, click an extension to disable it. Extensity grays out extensions that aren’t enabled; click them again to re-enable.

mm

Author: Steve Tetreault

Steve has been teaching middle school English for 20 years, has several degrees in education, and recently finished his last semester as a school library media specialist student. He certified as a teacher, school library media specialist, supervisor, and administrator. He is an old dog constantly learning new tricks!



Categories: Blog Topics, Technology

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1 reply

  1. mm

    I use Bitmoji and AdBlock, but I am not familiar with the others. I cannot wait to try them! Thanks for sharing, Steve.

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