Your browser of choice may have changed a lot in the past year, but luckily the best extensions for making your browser better have kept up with all the most popular browsers. Here are our cross-platform, must-have favorites.
Last time we looked at our favorite browser extensions, we only looked at Firefox. A lot has changed in a year, and now our favorite-extension pool has expanded to several other browsers.
10. Web of Trust (WOT)
Web of Trust, or WOT, is a browser extension that’s designed to help you browse more safely. When you search online, WOT accesses its database to see approximately how safe your search results really are. Next to each result it places a colored circle. Green indicates a safe site, yellow means you should proceed with caution, and red tells you that you should probably steer clear. When you roll over the colored circle, you’ll get more in-depth ratings. If you really want to look into a particular site, WOT can provide you with ratings from other WOT users. This is especially useful for online shopping. WOT has a special rating for vender reliability to help warn you of a potentially fraudulent storefront. WOT is available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer. For Opera and other browsers, a bookmarklet is available.
9. Google Translate
Web translation services are nothing new, but they’re exceptionally helpful when you run into a site written in a language you don’t speak. While these services have been around for awhile, they’ve evolved to make the translation process a lot easier. With the Google Translate extension (gTranslate in Firefox) you can just install it and it’ll recognize when a page is not in your primary language. You’ll receive a request to translate whenever this happens and the extension will reload the page with the translated text. Like all web translations, it’s imperfect, but it’s the closest things your browser’s going to get to a Babelfish. (Note: Google Chrome has auto-translate built in, so no extension’s required for Chrome users.)
AutoCopy does what the title suggests. Whenever you select some text in your browser, AutoCopy will automatically copy it to the clipboard. While pressing Ctrl+C (Cmd+C on a Mac) to do this manually isn’t that big of a deal, but what makes AutoCopy really worthwhile (for me, anyway) is the option to copy without formatting. There are so many times where I just want to copy text but want it to conform to the style of the document I’m pasting it into, and AutoCopy cuts out that tedious step no problem.
7. Better Gmail
Gmail’s great, but it’s not perfect, which is why Better Gmail was born—here at Lifehacker no less—out of the need for additional features. It compiles a bunch of the best Gmail-related Greasemonkey scripts to add a bunch of highly desired features to gmail. Those features include hierarchical labels, an unread message count in your browser tab, file attachment icons, row highlights, label links, the ability to hide and show all sorts of things, and more. The official version is Firefox-only, but an unofficial Chrome port is also available.
When you’re shopping online, you’re probably accustomed to searching for the lowest price. PriceBlink removes the need to do any actual work and presents you with your options, automatically, while shopping. Just browse to the page of something you want to buy and PriceBlink will show up if it can save you money. In addition to showing you lower prices, if PriceBlink finds a coupon for the retailer you’re visiting it’ll offer that up as well. When you’re not shopping, PriceBlink will stay out of your hair. It’s a pretty great tool for keeping your wallet from getting too thin. InvisibleHand extension.)
There are times when you just do not want to sign up for an account. Maybe you’re lazy, or maybe you don’t want to give out your email address to a web site you’re only going to use once. BugMeNot is an extension that uses the BugMeNot web site to retrieve login credentials for the site you’re visiting. Browse to a site, click the extension icon, and BugMeNot will offer up accounts to try. If the account works (or doesn’t), you can quickly send feedback to BugMeNot to let them know if the credentials are good or bad. This success rate is used to rank the options available to you. BugMeNot uses these ratings to suggest credentials for you whenever you visit a new site. If you want to avoid creating an account, BugMeNot will save you a ton of time.
4. Tab Cloud
Tab Cloud is an excellent extension for managing your browser tabs on a single computer or across multiple machines. You can name browser windows and save sessions, view a graphical representation of all your tabs and windows, and sync tabs from one browser to another. While Firefox 4 has tab sync already, Tab Cloud gives you a little more control over how you sync your tabs. It’s an excellent addition for Chrome, which (currently) has no existing tab sync at all. Regardless of sync, it makes for an excellent organizational tool for those of us who can’t help but keep at least 30 tabs open at a time.
With recent reports that the lack of Flash on the MacBook Air nets it two extra hours of battery life, you have to wonder if Apple’s choice to leave Flash off its new highly portable laptops was really the right choice after all. Even if you don’t use Flash much, there definitely are those few occasions where it’s a necessity. That’s where FlashBlock comes in. It lets you keep Flash installed on your computer but prevents Flash content from loading without your expressed permission. The upside is that Flash will never run without your intervention, though you can whitelist specific sites that you’d prefer Flash always works on. It’s a great compromise for gaining better battery life (and better overall performance) without needing to remove Flash entirely.
Note: FlashBlock functionality is already built-in to Chrome for Windows and is in the Mac developer builds.
2. Greasemonkey / Greasemetal / Etc.
LastPass is an amazing password manager. Actually, it may be better described as a personal data manager. It can remember login credentials (and automatically log you into web sites), credit card numbers, your address and phone number, and other personal information you often need to enter on a web site or storefront checkout. It stores everything securely and syncs with any machine that has a LastPass extension installed, and it’s one of the best timesavers you can install on your browser.
These days there are far more than ten great, must-have browser extensions. We can’t include them all. What are your favorites? Share ‘em in the comments.