Chrome extensions for productivity

What are Chrome extensions?

Chrome extensions are small programs which let you add features to your browser. They are usually free but can have premium versions.

How do I install them?

  1. In Chrome, click the three dots in the top right corner.
  2. Click More tools/Extensions. Here you will see any extensions you already have (can be switched on or off here).
  3. Click the three lines in the top left.
  4. At the bottom, click Open Chrome Web Store
  5. Search for the extension you want.
  6. Click it, then Add to Chrome. 
  7. If you create and log into a Chrome account, you can sync your extensions across your devices.

A word of warning

Some extensions are malicious. They can track what you are doing and even steal your data, so do your research before installing them. Read How to Make Sure a Chrome Extension is Safe Before Installing It.

Some useful extensions

Reading and research

Headings Map

Screenshot of Headings Map showing the headings structure in a BBC News webpage

headingsMap - generates an index of a webpage based on its headings (good for an overview).

Just Read

Screenshot of Just Read extension with green background and settings pane

Just Read - removes distractions from online articles and can delete unwanted sections.  Lets you change font and background colour. 

Evernote Web Clipper

Screenshot of Evernote Web Clipper showing editing pane for clipped section

Evernote Web Clipper - saves bookmarks and websites to your Evernote folders. Watch the Evernote video.

Selection Reader

Screenshot of Selection Reader settings window

Selection Reader - reads aloud online text.

Mercury Reader

Screenshot of Mercury Reader showing dark background and settings panel

Mercury Reader - declutters the page when reading online. Lets you change font, font size and switch between light and dark themes.

Copyfish

Screenshot of Copyfish extension extracting text from an image

Copyfish - copies, pastes and translates text from images and image pdfs into editable text.

Google Keep

Screenshot of Keep showing collected images, text and links

Google Keep - similar to Evernote, but simpler.

Grammar and spelling

Grammarly

Screenshot of Grammarly showing suggested corrections

Grammarly - checks your spelling and grammar whenever you write on the web. Watch the Grammarly video.

Dictionary

Screenshot of Grammarly showing word definition

Google Dictionary - defines words online.

Changing the format

Open Dyslexic

Screenshot of Open Dyslexic font being used on webpage

Open Dyslexic - changes the font to a more dyslexia-friendly one. Watch the Open Dyslexic video.

Visor

Screenshot of Visor extension tinting a screen

Visor - allows you to customise your background colour and keep your place when reading on.

Concentration and planning

Stay Focused

Screenshot of Stay Focused showing site blocking options

StayFocusd - lets you limit the time you spend on distracting sites (or block them altogether). Forest is similar, but with trees which die if you visit your blacklisted sites.

Strict Workflow - a timer which encourages you to work in 25-minute sessions with five-minute breaks. Can also blacklist distracting sites.

Noteboard Sticky Notes

Screenshot of Noteboard Sticky Notes extension showing virtual stickies

Note Board - Sticky Notes - an online noticeboard with 'sticky notes' you can customise and rearrange. Good for planning.

Dayboard

Screenshot of Dayboard showing five tasks to complete

Dayboard - gets you to write down your five most important tasks. These will appear whenever you open a new tab to remind you. Can also restrict access to distracting sites. Watch the Dayboard video.

Security

Avast

Screenshot of Avast showing a webpage is safe

Avast - lets you check whether or not a website has been rated as safe.

HTTPS Everywhere

Screenshot of HTTPS Everywhere showing how a secure site is chosen

HTTPS Everywhere - protects you online by switching you to a secure 'https' site whenever possible.

Privacy Badger

Screenshot of Visor extension showing trackers on a webpage

Privacy Badger - stops websites tracking you against your wishes and blocks pop-up ads.

Other

OneTab

Screenshot showing how OneTab extension cuts down memory use by combining open tabs in one page

OneTab - if you have lots of tabs open, this will convert them into a list on one page, freeing up memory. Click them again to reopen or save and export.

Unpaywall

Screenshot showing how Unpaywall can find free versions of articles

Unpaywall - finds legally-available free copies of journal articles.

Wayback Machine

Screenshot of Wayback Machine showing a timeline of archived webpage versions

Wayback Machine - if a webpage is not available, it will check to see if there is an archived version which you can open.

Extensity

Screenshot of Extensity showing how extensions can be switched on and off

Extensity - if you have too many extensions open, they will slow down your computer. This extension helps you easily manage all the others by enabling and disabling them.