11 of the Best Free Extensions for Google Chrome

11 of the Best Free Extensions for Google Chrome
Photo: monticello, Shutterstock

Chrome is the most popular browser on the planet, so much so that Microsoft decided to rebuild its entire browser using Chromium, the same open-source engine that drives Chrome. It’s versatile and fast, but what sets Chrome apart is how extensible it can be thanks to a huge variety of extensions that add extra functionality to the browser and web. You have extensions for customising the start page, expanding text, autocorrecting grammar mistakes, and even blocking trackers as you browse.

If you’re newer to the world of Chrome extensions, start exploring this collection of the best free extensions for Google Chrome.

Momentum

Let’s start with the start page, and let’s make it both pretty and useful: Momentum is one of the most popular Chrome extensions, and for good reason. It starts you off with a new background image every day, and then there are modules that you can choose to add on top. You can have a motivational phrase, a mantra, the time, and your to-do list. But the best part is that you can remove everything and just show the time and image (and that’s the way we usually do it).

StayFocusd

Chrome is a gateway to the internet, and the internet can be really distracting. StayFocusd wants to help you, well, stay focused. Using the extension, you can restrict the time you spend on websites. Basically it’s like the iPhone Screen Time feature, but for websites.

You can ask StayFocusd to automatically block a website like Facebook after you’ve spent 10 minutes on it each day. Want to block the entire internet for a bit? There’s a nuclear option just for you.

Bitwarden

Every couple of years, the debate for the best free password manager rages, usually when a password manager changes its pricing tiers. Bitwarden still hasn’t, and it remains one of the most secure password managers with a stellar free plan, and a free-to-use Chrome extension.

Bitwarden’s Chrome extension does everything you’d want to: It saves passwords, helps you generate new ones, and there’s a feature in its Settings that automatically fills saved passwords the moment you open the page. We feel like Bitwarden is worth it just for that nifty feature (you’ll find it in Settings > Options > Autofill).

Magical Text Expansion

Text expansion is one of the best-kept secrets in the productivity world. It lets you expand small snippets of text into pre-configured longer text, which can be your home address, a set reply for new clients, or even a website link.

Text expansion is built into Mac, but a more powerful third-party text expansion apps usually cost a lot of money. Magical Text Expansion extension, on the other hand, is completely free…and ad-free, too.

You can quickly create and use shortcuts right from Chrome, and the extension lets you group related shortcuts as well. And if you’re the forgetful kind, you can use the search feature to search through saved snippets.

Zoom Scheduler

A sad fact of the post-pandemic world: There’s no escaping Zoom meetings, and at some point, you’ll need to get your Zoom meetings under control. Zoom Scheduler can help with that.

This official extension directly integrates into Google Calendar. You can create a Zoom meeting schedule, along with a unique URL right when you’re scheduling a meeting in Google Calendar (something that’s natively supported for Google Meet). The Zoom meeting URL is then automatically sent to all the participants along with the invite email, saving you the hassle.

Weave Highlighter

You might use highlighting in physical and digital books, but what about the web? What if you want to highlight, save, and annotate online articles for research, or just to reference later? Weave Highlighter lets you do just that. You can highlight web pages and PDFs, and then comment on those highlights. Pages can be saved in different folders and collections. Once you create an account, all your highlights are saved in the cloud so you won’t lose them.

Weave Highlighter is free to use, but there’s also a Premium feature if you want unlimited sub-folders, unlimited storage, and colour customisation. For most users, the free plan will be more than enough.

Grammarly

Grammarly is one of those extensions that everyone should install, whether you write for a living or not. It’s a popular spell-check and grammar correction tool.

Essentially, it will help you write better. It will pick up the small, silly writing mistakes that we usually gloss over when we’re writing or proofreading. It’ll tell you to put a comma here, or to change a word there. It’ll help you write better emails, and even better social media posts.

Like some other extensions on this list, Grammarly has a Premium version, but for most users — even professional writers — the free version is more than enough (I’m using it right now as I write this).

Honey

Who doesn’t like saving money? Especially saving money without doing much. Honey automatically finds and applies coupon codes for thousands of websites across the internet. Plus, it’ll tell you if something you’re buying is available at a cheaper rate someplace else. It also has a special price comparison and price history tool just for Amazon, and its own rewards program that might help you save even more money.

OneTab

Tab suspender extensions are great for automatically saving resources for websites you aren’t browsing. As you probably know, Chrome can be quite a memory hog, so these extensions quietly put unused websites to sleep and load them up again when you switch to them.

After The Great Suspender debacle, it became difficult to trust tab suspender extensions (you’ll still find plenty of them on the Chrome Web Store), but not all hope is lost: The old and trusty OneTab extension is here to help you out. OneTab works a bit differently, though: If you’re running out of browsing memory, you can click the OneTab button and it will instantly close and convert all tabs into a list. You can then choose to re-open the tabs all at once, or individually.

If you really need an automatic tab suspender extension, try out this secure fork of The Great Suspender.

Magic Actions for YouTube

The YouTube web experience can certainly use a tweak or two, and the Magic Actions for YouTube extension has a whole bunch of them. It’s an all-in-one YouTube enhancer with more than a dozen features. Using this extension, you can control the quality of the video and configure what details are shown on the page. You can also disable the comments section and related videos. There’s also a cinema mode feature, day/night mode, colour themes, and a lot more.

uBlock Origin

As you might be aware, Chrome isn’t the most private browser on the planet. It’ll let websites track you left and right, but there’s something you can do about it: uBlock Origin is the best third-party extension for blocking all sorts of online trackers. The extension uses multiple online repositories to automatically block ad tracking and malicious trackers.

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