If you’ve ever sat on your laptop or desktop and wondered why you can’t use all your fun browser extensions on your smartphone, you must be a Chrome user. Thankfully, there's a solution.
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It’s a tough week to be a geek, unless you like watching characters you’ve loved for years, if not decades, bite the big one. Be sure to bring your Mjölnir-sized tissue box to Avengers: Endgame this week (especially if you, like me, have Thanos as your #1. Though he’s unlikely to get an Ant-Man up his arse, I somehow suspect everyone’s favourite nihilist won’t make it through this film).
Chrome: Not all hacks have to make you a productivity wizard. Some only need to make you happy, and add a little joy (or confusion) to those you email, too. At least, that’s the best way I can think of to describe the Chrome extension “Suggested poems for Gmail,” a brilliant little service that drops a literary bomb on Google’s normal suggested autoreplies in Gmail.
I used to love Grammarly, the helpful browser plugin that analyses what you type and calls out your poor spelling and grammar choices — for you to fix or ignore, depending on what kind of a writer you are. I ended up uninstalling it after a few months because it seemed to be a bit of a resource hog, and I found that Chrome’s built-in spellcheck was all I really needed, anyway.
I like to write about different methods for organising your web browser because my own Chrome browser looks like a tab farm.
It never fails. No matter how often I dump all of my open tabs into some kind of archive, it only takes a week or two for the problem — in the form of 20+ browser tabs — to reappear.
One of my favourite Netflix tricks is a simple one. When you’re watching your favourite TV show on the streaming service within your web browser, not a standalone Netflix app, odds are good you’ll encounter opening credits and have to drag your mouse over and click the handy “skip intro” button to get going. I think that’s too much work, since you can also just tap “s” on your keyboard to activate the button instead. Seconds saved.
You wake up. You groggily pull up your laptop or sit in front of your desktop with your delicious coffee nearby. Once your system loads, you load up Google Chrome, and you think how nice it will feel to get rid of all of those open tabs someday. You open a new tab anyway and start your morning content ritual.
There are a bunch of different extensions you can use to take full-page screenshots in your browser—typically a more elegant way to preserve a site’s contents than “printing” it as a PDF or saving it to your computer as a complete website. Since I use Chrome, Full Page Screen Capture has been my go-to for some time, but you can also take these screenshots manually if you don’t want to bother installing something new to do it. (Same with Firefox.)
Google’s updated version of Calendar — which you can no longer opt out of — is lovely to look at and easier to work with than its previous version. However, the omission of one major feature from Calendar’s new “material design” version seems to be annoying a number of users (including yours truly): The ability to block off hours when you’re sleeping.
Windows: When Microsoft debuted its new “Timeline” feature in the Windows 10 April 2018 update, I was a bit bummed to find that this feature — which you can use to see what you were up to on any given day — isn’t very helpful unless you’re using the Edge browser.
Chrome: The same open-source software company that wants to keep covert cryptocurrency mining out of your browser also wants to keep "fake news" from enriching your life. Or, at the very least, Eyeo wants to show you whether your favourite news sites are full of FUD and bias.
We all fall victim to the dangerous belief that if an app or extension is listed in an official repository - be it the App Store, Google Play, the Microsoft Store, Mozilla's Add-Ons directory or so on - it must be legitimate. After all, the big tech companies surely use a lot of automated systems (and real human beings) to ensure that their customers aren't downloading harmful things. Right?
Suppose you're trying to troubleshoot a family member's computer, you want to show a friend some issue you're having with your system, or you want to make a quick recording of some crazy thing you're about to do in a game. With the Chrome extension Loom, it's incredibly easy to capture and share a quick recording of your screen right from of your browser.
Firefox's design hot-shot Aza Raskin is back with some more interesting Firefox prototyping, this time in the form of a fresh idea for the new tab page. The page borrows some thoughts from Google Chrome and now Safari's default new tab pages (i.e., displays thumbs of pages you like to visit and offers a search box), but puts a slightly different spin on it. Most notably, for sites like Lifehacker, the new page appears to tap the site's RSS feed to display the most recent posts. We've been playing around with it a little bit this afternoon, and though we're excited to see where it'll go, so far it's pretty rough around the edges—both in form and function. If you'd like to try it out or you want to know more about what the designers were thinking, hit the link.
Firefox with the Greasemonkey extension: You're cruising through your unread items in Google Reader, and suddenly you want to mark all the items AFTER your current one as read, or BEFORE your current one as read—but not all of them. The Mark Until Current As Read Greasemonkey user script can do just that. With it installed, press Ctrl+Y to mark items before the one you're looking at as read, and Ctrl+I to mark items after as read—a nice feature for power GReader users. The Mark Until Current As Read user script is a free download, works with Firefox and the Greasemonkey extension, and is currently on deck to be included in the Better GReader extension. Thanks, CliffordBadger! Google Reader - Mark Until Current As Read v 1.2
Firefox only (Windows/Mac/Linux): Firefox extension Panic provides a simple keyboard shortcut to instantly close all of your current tabs while opening a new, more appropriate one. So let's say you're at a workplace that supports reading Lifehacker (you are boosting your productivity, after all). You could set Lifehacker as your panic URL, then start looking for your boss's birthday present on Amazon. (You are so nice!) When your boss turns the corner, just hit the customisable keyboard shortcut to close your active windows and fire up your panic URL. Of course, Panic's boss key would work just as well for less noble purposes, and it works fast. Panic is free, works wherever Firefox does. For other Panic alternatives, check out previously mentioned apps like the Magic Boss Key, Windows Hidie, and workFriendly. Panic
Firefox only: Save time shopping at Amazon.com with the new Better Amazon Firefox extension, which adds helpful tweaks and features to Amazon's pages. Better Amazon highlights which products the big A offers Super Saver free shipping for in search results, automatically enlarges product images, shortens Amazon URLs for easy emailing, and collapses superfluous junk on the page when you just need to get simple tasks done. After the jump, download Better Amazon and get your (stateside) online shopping done more efficiently.