Browser extensions can make browsing and accessing online accounts so much quicker and easier, but with thousands available, how do you know which ones are worth installing?
Extensions or add-ons offer a huge range of different services and features, each one designed to offer something a little more specific that isn’t available in the standard version of a browser. These features allow users to customise their browsers and can range from anything from making cutting and pasting text or images easier, displaying media differently, or integrating the program with other pieces of software to make it easier to use them together. You can have too many browser extensions installed, cluttering up your taskbar and menus, almost defeating the point of having them for efficiency and productivity purposes. We’ve selected a few of the ones we use regularly to make both working and casual browsing much more streamlined. Note, these extensions are available on both Chrome and Firefox, however where unavailable on Firefox, we’ve included an alternative, equivalent add-on…
This extension is a useful ad blocker which has a range of customisable features, including white and blacklists for websites. While the ethics of ad blockers are still being debated, they do remove distracting adverts (making content more accessible), allow web pages to load faster, block “fake news” and provide additional protection from malware. If you are visiting websites that you trust and wish to support, you can whitelist them and allow adverts to appear. uBlock is one of the most popular blockers available, and one of the more commonly used among our team. Download here.
IT security is at the forefront of all organisations’ minds at the moment, so HTTPS Everywhere is something of a must. The extension switches many major websites from insecure "http" connections to secure "https", encrypting your communications with the site and making your browsing activity more secure. Highly recommended - download here.
The Great Suspender (Tab suspender on Firefox)
If you’re one of those people that leaves all of your tabs open for future use, you’ll be aware of just how much this can slow down your PC. Chrome is notoriously punishing on your CPU, and having dozens of tabs open can significantly affect performance. The Great Suspender (or Tab Suspender on Firefox) automatically suspends tabs that have not been used in a while, freeing up memory and CPU usage. There are also whitelist features for tabs that you need to keep running. Download The Great Suspender for Chrome here, and Tab Suspender for Firefox here.
Stay Focusd (Forest on Firefox)
These extensions promote productivity by either restricting specific time wasting websites, or gamifying your productivity. StayFocusd allows you to block websites and pages for a specified amount of time, and even block specific in-page content such as videos, games, images, or forms. Forest on Firefox is different in that you have to try and grow a virtual tree! A virtual seed is planted and will begin to grow over the course of 30 minutes. If you cannot resist the temptation to visit one of your blacklisted websites, the tree will wither away and die. While this is less restrictive than StayFocusd, many people prefer the self-control needed with Forest. Either way, if you’re looking for add-ons which help prevent distractions, there are lots of different options available.
Cookies are pieces of data which track and store basic information about your visit to a site to help improve your experience, or tailor content and adverts to you based on your browsing habits. Many people are not comfortable with giving away this browsing data so freely though. Following EU regulations, websites must now get users’ explicit permission to install cookies on their machines. No doubt you’ll have noticed those annoying banners which pop up when you visit websites asking for your permission to install cookies; this can get very old, very quickly. I Don’t Care About Cookies automatically gives permission to websites so that these messages do not pop up. It’s important to note that this extension removes your ability to choose whether to accept or not, so if you wish to retain this right, this may not be something you wish to install.
There are many different password manager providers which allow you to store all of your passwords securely, keeping a log of your accounts and login credentials without having to remember each individual password. The extensions are really useful, as they will often automatically detect which website you are visiting then automatically pull up the appropriate log in credentials for you. Which provider you go with is dependant on what suits you best. We have more information on password managers, as well as some of our favourites here.