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Tag Archives: chromebook

15 of the Best, Fastest Chrome Extensions

Looking to deck-out Chrome with useful buttons (and make your URL bar smaller)? Here’s a round-up of some of the most popular, easiest-to-use, and productivity-enhancing extensions for Google’s browser:

1. AdBlock

AdBlock blocks all ads on the Internet (although you can, during setup, opt to give Google’s display ads a pass; individual domains may be greenlighted later, too). It’s technically free (as a pay-what-you-want download), and as such I dont understand why people still complain about things like this.

2. Pocket

Pocket’s dead-simple concept (save an entire page, permanently) for viewing later) for consuming content is addictive. Simply click to save anything for later. It beautifully reformats text for reading and even saves videos.

3. PushBullet

You’ll need an Android phone/tablet with Jelly Bean and the PushBullet app in order to use this. PushBullet speedily pushes links, files, or lists to your Android devices, so that they pop-up in your notification menu or even in the enormously popular DashClock Widget (if you have enabled the PushBullet extension). From there, you can tap them to have instant access to their contents. I was skeptical at first since I could already easily save things to Google Drive or Pocket, but PushBullet is perfect for making sure that you can send things like PDFs or URLs in particular to your phone with minimal hassle and maximum speed.

4. Save to Google Drive

Self-explanatory: it saves just about anything to Google Drive.

5. Google +1 Button

This is useful not only for sharing things to G+, but for seeing how many others have already shared the same page to G+, too. It’s a neat diagnostics tool combined with a social tool.

6. AddThis

AddThis can share the current page or selected content with a variety of social networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and others.

7. Google Dictionary

A useful in-browser dictionary, it also lets you double-click words on any page to get a popup definition.

8. Google Similar Pages

This extension fetches a list of pages similar to your current webpage.

9. PicMonkey

Saves all or some of the images on the current page so that you can edit them in the PicMonkey app for Chrome.

10. User-Agent Switcher

This lets you use different user-agent strings in Chrome. Can be especially useful for the ARM Samsung Chromebook, which some sites interpret as a mobile device.

11. Knew Tab

A great alternative to the default tab. It shows weather, unread Gmail count, RSS feed, Facebook notifications and messages, and time.

12. Missing E

This is a feature-rich extension that gives you some more options for how your Tumblr dashboard appears and operates.

13. Fabulous

A neat Facebook extension which lets you change the color scheme, block ads, style fonts, and create custom UI elements like a photo pane at the wright and a sticky pad.

14. Magic Actions for YouTube

This extension lets you run YouTube in night mode (with black background) and adds some extra controls such as volume adjustment via trackpad gestures.

15. Google Translate

Translates the entire current page.

-The ScreenGrab Team

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10 Basic Chrome OS “Apps” to Get You Started

Chrome OS has come on big in 2013, thanks to the proliferation of cheap but reliable machines from Samsung and Acer, as well as the meaningless (for now) glitz of the Chromebook Pixel. While some people may easily embrace Chrome OS’s continuous, Web-based model of computing, others may balk at a platform that has no native apps except for a browser and file manager.

Fortunately, Chrome OS still gives us the illusion of having discrete apps that can be docked and clicked to open their own webpages. Here’s a list of some easy-to-use apps to get started

Evernote

Recent hacks aside, Evernote is a reliable tool for storing or creating just about any type of content (text, photos, quotes, videos, screenshots). The Web-based version is fast and lightweight but still highly functional, making it a great counterpart to the native Evernote apps elsewhere.

New York Times

This “app” takes you the Chrome-optimized version of the NYT sight, which is far less-cluttered than its standard page. It also supports Chrome OS’s desktop notification system, which is handy for keeping track of breaking news.

Gmail Offline

Gmail can sometimes be slow, an issue further compounded by limited resources on many Chromebook models. Gmail Offline solves two main issues for Chromebooks: it lets you manage your email more quickly, and it gives your device some real (and rare) offline functionality.

NPR Infinite Player

Infinite, free, customizable listening to NPR stations.

PicMonkey

I’ve actually gotten GIMP to run (albeit painfully slowly) on my ARM Chromebook, but this is a solution much more suited to Chrome OS’s style. It allows for some light photo editing and sharing, with the option to upgrade for more sophisticated features. It also has a handy extension for detecting, capturing and editing images on the current page.

Google Play Music

This one actually comes bundled with Chrome OS. Its Web app is one of the easiest ways to listen to music online, and a must-have in lieu of a fully functional Spotify Web app. You can listen to any of the songs stored in your Google Play Music locker, or songs purchased from the Google Play Store.

TweetDeck

A Web app that runs in a native app-style standalone window, TweetDeck is the best way to use Twitter on Chrome OS. Luckily, it also seems to be getting even greater attention from Twitter now that the iOS, Android, and AIR version of TweetDeck are being retired.

Write Space

My favorite text editor for Chrome OS. White on black, simple, and fast.

IMO Messenger

No native IM apps? No problem! IMO lets you manage all your major IM accounts (AIM, Skype, Jabber, Google Talk) from its Web app.

Pandora

Perhaps a stretch, since this app is just a link to the usual Pandora website, but it’s free music (or paid, higher-quality music, if you have a subscription) nonetheless.

-The ScreenGrab Team

Twitter’s TweetDeck Tweaks a Validation for Chrome and Chrome OS

Quick entry, since the last one is a bit longer.

Twitter has announced that it will abandon the iPhone, Android, and Adobe AIR versions of TweetDeck, a powerhouse Twitter client that it acquired two years ago. It’ll also cease Facebook integration, which I find unsurprising given Facebook’s gradual decline. It’ll maintain the native Mac and PC apps, but it really wants to use its versions for Web and/or Chrome.

The focus on Chrome is interesting. TweetDeck for Chrome has gotten access to some features (like notifications) more quickly than other versions, and its sleek, almost Holo-esque column layout is seemingly made for Chrome’s aesthetic.  On Chrome OS, TweetDeck is indispensable: it maintains its beautiful Web aesthetic while also running in its own application window, a trait reserved almost exclusively for the Chrome OS Files app, which manages your downloads and Google Drive storage. Other than possibly Falcon Pro for Android, it’s the best Twitter experience I’ve had on any platform.

For Twitter power users and Chrome OS fans, there’s something validating about TweetDeck migrating to a largely Web-based existence. For one, it validates Chrome OS’s approach to software, that is, that software can serve most people’s needs by simply running from within a well-designed browser. But Twitter’s move here also demonstrates the subtle divide between mobile and desktop OSes – Twitter’s statement said:

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen a steady trend towards people using TweetDeck on their computers and Twitter on their mobile devices,”

meaning that native remains the way to go for mobile while Web is good enough for desktops. Chrome OS’s subtle blend of a Web Tweetdeck app that runs as in its own window as a pseudo native app really is a perfect distillation of how Chrome OS nimbly straddles the mobile/desktop OS boundary.

In any event, Twitter seems to be emphasizing that it is a platform and not an “app.” It’s been a rough go lately for 3rd-party Twitter apps, thanks to the new API rules that limit those apps to only 100,000 user tokens per version and now this scaling back of TweetDeck. The migration away from app-centric computing bodes well for Chrome OS, although I doubt that the native Twitter apps for iOS/Android are going away anytime soon.

-The ScreenGrab Team

TLDR

Extension: TLDR

Developer: tldrstuff.com

Screenshot 2013-02-13 at 8.09.00 PM

“TL;DR is one of the glibbest Internet acronyms, often employed as a reflexive rejoinder to overlong forum posts on sites like Reddit. Sometimes, it’s merited as a needed takedown against posters who think that length makes strength, while at others it’s a sad indication of the Internet’s short attention span. The TLDR extension from tldrstuff.com occupies a similar range of usefulness and appropriateness.

TLDR offers both an extensions button in the toolbar and right-click button, both of which condense the current page into a much shorter summary. It’s surprisingly good at scanning the page’s contents to find key points. For obsessive completists who may feel like they’re missing out on key content, the extension also offers medium and long versions of the same page. Perhaps most usefully, the app also lets you quickly search for similar pages via Google.

Recommended?: Yes, if only for novelty’s sake. But in all seriousness, the extension can speed up your browsing and reading a lot more than yesterday’s extension could, while also adding a nice dollop of humor to your browsing

-The ScreenGrab Team

Fastest Chrome

Extension: Fastest Chrome

Developer: fastestfox.com

Unlike yesterday’s extension, this extension runs in the background only and has no in-browser button. Fastest Chrome is theoretically a means of turbocharging your Web browsing. Its key features include:

-Endless pages: it automatically does away with anachronisms like separate pages in Google Search results or articles, loading the next page automatically as you scroll.

-Dictionary: highlight any word to gets it definition

-DuckDuckGo/supplementary search results: quick/summarized search results from DuckDuckGo may appear above your normal stream of Google Search results.

Recommend?: Maybe. I like the endless scrolling pages, but the extension at times seemed to gum up how Chrome was running on Mac (tho I had no issues with it on Chrome OS/Chromebook) – there were more dropped searches and some apparent issues with how Chrome tried to navigate some content management/bug-tracking systems and sites, as well as Facebook apps and games. I like the dictionary feature, tho it isn’t terribly different from the Google Dictionary extension, which I’ll review soon. The supplementary search results felt slightly spam-y.

-The ScreenGrab Team