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SmallLaw: Browser Bliss: My 14 Favorite Chrome Apps and Extensions

By Erik Mazzone | Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Originally published on March 15, 2011 in our free SmallLaw newsletter. Instead of reading SmallLaw here after the fact, sign up now to receive future issues in realtime.

I may never download a software program again — with one exception. You see, I've got browsers on the brain. I'm teaching a session on browsers next month at ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago so I've been researching browser technologies for the session. Along the way, I have noticed how incredibly browser-centric my computing life has become. I'm all about the browser, baby.

It started a few years ago when I downloaded Mozilla Firefox, and then amped up a little when I downloaded Google Chrome. However, my Web browser obsession didn't really kick into high gear until late last year when Google opened the Chrome Web Store — a one stop shop for all things customizable for Google Chrome (which had already replaced Firefox as my browser of choice).

These days, more and more I find myself trawling the Chrome Web Store looking for new apps and extensions to wring more productivity and functionality out of my browser. It's so quick, cheap and easy that, as I intimated above, I may never download a software program again other than these Chrome apps and extensions.

So without further ado, below you'll find my 14 current favorite finds in the Chrome Web Store. Of the bazillions I have downloaded and played with, these 14 I use and rely on day in day out.

1. Clip to Evernote

I live my life in Evernote. I use it to store everything, including Web clips. Clip to Evernote makes it easy to choose exactly which part of a web page you want to add to Evernote. Honorable mention goes to the SpringPad Extension.

2. Awesome Screenshot

The Awesome Screenshot extension makes it quick and painless to take a full or partial screenshot of whatever is on your browser. Slicker and easier than the screenshot tool built in to Windows 7.

3. Facebook Photo Zoom

No more having to double click on all the photos that show up in your Facebook stream. Facebook Photo Zoom enables you to simply hover over a photo and have it zoom in to larger size. A "must have" for all you Facebook stalkers out there poring over photos of your high school girlfriend.

4. Google Mail Checker

Google Mail Checker sits quietly in Chrome and performs two little tricks (very well). First, it shows an unread message icon for your Gmail inbox so you know when you have new mail in Gmail. Second, it acts as one click link right to your inbox. A real time saver for Gmail addicts.

5. RSS Subscription Extension

I obtain a lot of my news from RSS feeds. My RSS feed reader of choice is Google Reader. Created by Google, the RSS Subscription Extension shows up in the omnibar in Chrome whenever you are on a site with an available RSS feed. With one click it automatically adds the new site to your Google Reader account.

6. Mailto:Gmail

In keeping with the other cool stuff from Google, Mailto:Gmail solves a problem a lot of Gmail users have — when you click on an email link in your browser, your computer launches Outlook or Mail or whatever the default mail program is on your machine. This extension changes the default mail program so when you click these links it launches Gmail.

7. Adblock Plus

I don't see pop up ads anymore when I browse. Period. Install Adblock Plus and neither will you.

8. LastPass

I reviewed this slick password manager and form filler in my last SmallLaw column. LastPass is a must-have — probably my most-used extension of all.

9. Shareaholic

Shareaholic provides one click sharing to anywhere you want, from email to Twitter to Facebook to LinkedIn to Instapaper to … you get the idea. If LastPass is my most-used extension, Shareaholic is probably number two.


Simple, one click file sharing. Get

11. Write Space

Unfortunately, I have the attention span of a three month old puppy. When I need to buckle down and write something like this SmallLaw column or a CLE manuscript, Write Space provides a distraction-free writing environment.

12. TweetDeck

TweetDeck is my favorite application for managing Twitter. Now I use it right in my browser. Honorable mention goes to HootSuite.

13. Podcast Player

I listen to a lot of podcasts but despite being an inveterate Mac geek, I don't always want to deal with transferring them from iTunes to my iPad or iPhone. Podcast Player makes your favorite podcasts instantly accessible from Chrome.

14. New York Times

I'm a Times junkie. The New York Times Chrome app is my absolute favorite way to read it, bar none.

What, No Fifteenth Pick?

That's my list. Yes, just 14. Go check out the Chrome Web Store and start compiling your own list — and post reviews of your favorites, one of which might become my 15th favorite.

Written by Erik Mazzone of Law Practice Matters.

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