In just five years, Google Chrome has become the most widely used desktop browser, surpassing both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Chrome is pretty impressive right out of the box, with the latest update (Version 27) featuring excellent security, fast response time, superior HTML5 support, cross-device bookmark and preference syncing, and a built-in PDF reader and flash player.
However, extensions and add-ons can make Chrome even better. There are now almost as many Chrome extras—more than 50,000 of them—as there are in the extensive Firefox library of add-ons. Here are five of the best for 2013.
Security extension: Click&Clean
Maximize your browsing privacy and security with this full-featured extension. Click&Clean features a drop-down menu with 1-click actions like clearing your cache, deleting cookies, and erasing your download and browser history. You can also delete temporary files, Flash Cookies, and client-side Web SQL databases.
This extension offers more than a fast way to erase your browsing activity. Click&Clean gives you a one-click link to external security applications, like Bitdefender to scan for malware and CCCleaner or Wise Disk Cleaner to securely delete files. You can also use this add-on to watch flash videos offline.
Interface extension: AdBlock and AdBlock Plus
Both of these Chrome add-ons serve the same basic purpose: they keep ads from ruining your online experience. The community-driven AdBlock Plus blocks banners, pop-ups, and video ads, including on Facebook and YouTube.
AdBlock (without the “plus”), which is unrelated to the extension of nearly the same name, takes things a step further by blocking banners, pop-ups, and all video and Flash ads, including those in Flash-based games. The latest version, 2.6, also includes a counter that shows you how many ads have been blocked.
Productivity extension: RescueTime
Ever wonder where the time goes when you’re online? Now you can figure out which sites are your biggest time drains with this handy add-on. The RescueTime Chrome Productivity Meter keeps track of which sites you’re using online. An automatic pause feature stops the timer when your keyboard and mouse go untouched for two minutes, and you get a report letting you know exactly where you spend the most time.
Bonus extension: Can’t seem to pry yourself off Facebook or YouTube? Pair RescueTime with StayFocusd, an add-on that limits the amount of time per day Chrome will let you spend on certain websites before the browser blocks them. You can set StayFocusd to monitor your time on entire sites, specific pages, or even apps and Flash games.
Sharing and bookmarking extension: AddThis
A faster way to bookmark pages, share content on your social networks, and more, AddThis makes it easy to save your favorite things online. You can bookmark or share anything with a tool bar drop-down menu, or by right-clicking anywhere on a page. AddThis supports more than 300 services, including the big social media networks, blogging platforms, and email services.
Tab extension: Awesome New Tab Page
The default new tab in Chrome shows you shortcut options based on recently visited pages or most-used bookmarks. With the Awesome New Tab Page add-on, you get a customizable Windows 8-esque tile menu that lets you arrange your favorite bookmarks and custom shortcuts, add dynamic widgets, launch apps, and more. You can move, resize, and delete your shortcuts and widgets at will with a drag-n-drop interface.
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