It will come as no surprise that, as the editor of a website devoted to productivity, I’m obsessive about refining the details of my tech life to be certain every element is helping me get the job done. While I have software that I swear by (WriteRoom, Deckset, Evernote), I’m more of an evangelist for browser extensions.
My favourite Chrome extensions are lightweight, easy-to-install and usually free, but the effect they have on my productivity is profound. These are the extensions that I love most fervently and recommend most frequently.
As a devout Inbox Zero practitioner, I consider overnight emails an act of war, so thank god Boomerang for Gmail’s email scheduling, which allows me to rise early to answer emails without annoying the crap out of my colleagues. I can write an email at 5:30am, but make sure it doesn’t get delivered until 10:30am. I can think of something I want to tell someone while they’re on vacation, and schedule an email for after they have been back a few days so I don’t interrupt their time off.
Checker Plus for Gmail puts a little envelope icon in your Chrome toolbar that tells you when you have new email, and allows you to read and answer email right from there, without opening the Gmail tab. It works whether you have the Gmail tab open or not, which means you can turn off Gmail desktop notifications, a productivity suck if ever there was one.
Just as useful is Checker Plus for Google Drive, which allows you to browse and open docs or sheets or presentations in your Google Drive right from the toolbar. Anything that keeps me out of the G Suite tabs is a godsend.
Removes the formatting, ads, comments, distractions from a web page, and displays the text in a clean, readable style. You can customise the extension to your heart’s content, but I’m good with the default CSS.
It was made to replace images of Donald Trump with kittens, but you can also enter your own list of people you want blocked — block Harvey Weinstein! Block your ex! Make kittens of them all!
What are you waiting for? This extension solves your FOMO in mere seconds. No more news feed! It’s one step closer to the Facebook breakup you’re always threatening.
Take the ten trillion tabs you’ve opened and convert them into a list. You’ll save memory and get the satisfaction of closing all those tabs. Use the handy URL to share the list with coworkers, friends, yourself. Be sure to bookmark your OneTab if you want to access it from another machine as it doesn’t have cloud sync.
Pocket is my “read it later” app of choice, and I use the Save to Pocket Chrome extension as another tool to get all those tabs closed. Over the course of a day I’ll have opened at least five longform stories I don’t have time to read but saving to Pocket means they’re safe and sound to read over the weekend. (If you’re looking for good true crime articles, I try to recommend them when I finish.)
The temperature and forecast in your toolbar. I set up an IFTTT recipe to notify our team Slack channel of the following day’s weather each day at 4pm, which satisfies some of my weather needs, but persistent temperature all day long, all day strong is a dream.
It makes browsing Wikipedia prettier, classier, better. You probably spend more time on Wikipedia than you think you do, and the Wikiwand’s lefthand nav and other design tweaks make the experience faster and far more pleasurable.
These aren’t all the extensions I rely on — they’re just the ones that affect my productivity most. And yes, I’m a devoted Chrome user, in spite of its dreadful UI and needless bloat, but I know many of these, or acceptable analogs, are available for other browsers — if you’ve got a killer set of Firefox or Opera extensions, tell us in the comments.