After months of pining — and even some whining — Google Chrome users on Mac OS X can now add browser extensions and synchronize bookmarks across devices. The latest beta of Chrome for Mac, version 5.0.307.7 adds support for these two oft-requested features. In fact, some Firefox users wouldn’t even think about Chrome in the past, due to the vast extensibility of the Mozilla browser. Up to now I’ve used a developer build of Chromium to enjoy extensions, but that changes today. Here’s a list of must-have extensions to take advantage of the latest beta build on Mac OS X.
Google Voice — If you’re not a Google Voice user, then of course, there’s nothing to see here. But if you are, this is a must-have. The extension acts as an unobtrusive notifier to tell you when you have a voicemail or text message. Click it to see your Google Voice Inbox, read those messages or even play back a voice mail. The best part — you can pound out a quick text message from within the interface by using your Mac’s keyboard, not some pokey handset keyboard. And any phone numbers on web pages can be clicked to initiate a Google Voice call so you don’t have to dial. Tap the phone number, choose your Google Voice phone and the service will call you on that handset and then connect you to the number you clicked.
Google Translate — It’s not often I hit a website in a foreign language, but when I do, I scurry around over to Google’s translation service. With this extension, there’s no need to scurry. It uses the same translation engine and works with the click of a button. Google says that auto-language detection only works on Windows for now, but it’s usually not too difficult to pick the correct language. The extension offers a cleaner-looking translation as well — there’s no banner at the top taking up extra space.
Add to Amazon Wish List – I don’t just use Amazon’s Wish List to track what I want from Amazon — I use it to track what I want from pretty much anywhere and this extension helps do just that. Once installed, you can click the extension on any website and add any item on the page to your list. I’ve used this when I see ads for products and even when I’ve just seen an image of a product I want. For example, I added the Apple iPad from our own site since the extension grabs the image. You can fill in product details if you know them or simply add the item without.
Facebook for Google Chrome — Instead of keeping a tab open for Facebook and wasting system resources all day, consider adding this extension. It’s not a notifier, so it won’t help when you receive Facebook messages, but it is a one-click method to see what’s going on in your social circle. After you first install, you’ll need to sign-in to Facebook directly within Chrome, but that’s a once and done situation.
One quick tap opens a Facebook frame that’s scrollable. From here, you can tap your pic to add a status update, read your news feed or check out your wall. Comments and likes are easy to add without even opening up the full Facebook site.
Evernote Web Clipper – Evernote users will love this — and if you’re not an Evernote user, you owe it to yourself to try the cross-platform service. With you can create and save notes, import photos or images and later search across any and all of your clippings since Evernote indexes all of the data for you. Just select what you want to clip and click the extension button. If you have multiple notebooks, you can also choose which notebook you want the clip sent to. This video demonstrates an Evernote bookmarklet, but the overall process and benefits apply to the extension.
AdBlock — This one has to be among the first extensions that every Firefox users installs, so it’s only fitting to call it out for Chrome. AdBlock does one thing, but does it well — it simply blocks ads on web pages, so you can focus on content. You might consider adding the AdBlock Helper Button extension, which gives you a visual way to manage your options, which include allowing text ads on Google search items if you’d rather see them. And if some ads do get through, you can “train” the extension to learn exactly what should have been blocked.
Although there are thousands of extensions now available for Chrome, those are six that I’ve been using and recommend. And I left out the Google Mail Checker simply because I didn’t want too many Google services in the list – but I do use it. ;) Browsing environments and tools are very personal things, so tell me which you’re using and why. There’s just no way for me to have seen them all and now that Chrome officially supports them, I want to add some new extensions!
Related research from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):