Web browsers don't require any tweaking to do their job, but a stock browser is a boring browser. Chrome and Firefox users have a plethora of addons and extensions available, and many can make your work life easier.
There are five basic categories of extensions that are must-haves for professionals. Here they are along with recommendations of which to install.
Blocking pesky ads
Sure, adblockers aren't going to directly help you get work done, but they are essential for anyone doing research on the web. Any decent adblocker is going to include both ads and popups—every internet user knows how difficult dealing with both can be.
SEE: Secure Browser Usage Policy (Tech Pro Research)
If you're not comfortable with seeing ads generated by an extension that's supposed to block them there are alternatives. I use AdBlock on Chrome, which is developed by an unrelated company, and AdBlocker Ultimate seems to be a popular alternative on Firefox.
I understand the irony of suggesting ad blocking on a site that relies on ad revenue for money; I recommend adblockers with a caveat. There are plenty of sites and content creators that rely on ads for income, and most—if not all—of those ads are perfectly safe.
Less reputable sites can feature ads that host malicious scripts and other hazards, and those are the ones adblockers are for.
Pictured: a very, very bad idea.
Still keeping passwords on a sheet of paper or a notebook? You might be the reason your IT team always seems to be popping ibuprofen. It's simply not safe to keep passwords written down in an unsecure location, especially when those accounts are essential to work.
Luckily there are a number of password management extensions available, and they work beautifully. You only need to setup one master password for the extension and it will securely store everything for you.
LastPass is the most popular, widely used, and simple of the password extensions. Check it out on both Chrome and Firefox. Yes, both browsers can manage passwords themselves, but it's a much less secure option.
Working online is great: you don't need RAM-devouring apps installed, you can work remotely with ease, and uncountable distractions are just a Google search away. Resisting the urge to avoid work with cat pictures, Facebook feeds, and Reddit threads is simply impossible for some people.
If you find yourself stumbling into the time-wasting portion of the internet there are extensions that can help! WasteNoTime for Chrome and LeechBlock for Firefox both allow you to blacklist certain sites and set a timer that will leave them blocked until it runs out. Need four hours of uninterrupted time? Just start it up. Want to work for 25 and take a five-minute break? You can set them to do that too.
Tracking your tasks
If you spend most of your time in a web browser it can be a hassle to hop between apps and windows to get all the info you need to work, especially if you rely on to-do lists and task management apps.
SEE: Tech leaders: Here are six ways to take charge of your time (TechRepublic)
Todoist is an extension for both Chrome and Firefox that allows you to see your whole to-do list just by clicking on the icon it adds near your URL bar. It can store pages to be read later, share tasks between users, and it syncs between devices.
Yes, your Windows and MacOS machines can take screenshots, but not in the same way browser extensions can. Awesome Screenshot for Chrome and Firefox both offer great options to capture and mark up screenshots.
You can use Awesome Screenshot and extensions like it to capture entire pages without having to scroll, making it a great tool for developers and other people who need to capture and share browser images. Your operating system simply can't do what screen capture extensions are capable of!
- How to test drive the new Chrome Personalized Tab feature (TechRepublic)
- We spend 45 minutes per hour on social media while at work according to new research (ZDNet)
- How Allstate boosted developer productivity by 350% with the cloud (TechRepublic)
- 50 must-have Google Chrome extensions (and they're all free) (ZDNet)
- Web browser wars: developers defend themselves (CBS News)
Brandon Vigliarolo has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.