Browser Extensions

5 Browser Extensions You Need to Download Today to Boost Productivity

Feb03
Remember when Netscape seemed like the only browser anyone should ever use to look at the web?

And then it was AOL’s browser that made the most sense? Then Internet Explorer? Maybe you had what seemed like a long-term commitment to Firefox, the open-source, anti-corporate browser that felt just right, up until Google’s Chrome came along?

The point being, you never know what browser you might use a few months from now, no matter how attached you are to your little window to the web. Better to get familiar with a few browser extensions that adapt quickly to the latest browsers, or already have done so, and learn how to work them. You never know when the next browser sea change may be coming.

So what browser extensions out there can boost your productivity at work? Here are five of our favorites.

PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS FOR MOST MODERN BROWSERS

RescueTime: Do you really want to know how you spend your workday? RescueTime offers not only desktop software you can install, but a browser extension that can tell you how you spent late Tuesday or maybe what you were doing on the computer early Friday evening. RescueTime gives you the straight facts on where your time went, into which tabs, and it keeps itself available for almost all modern browsers.

Pixlr is where I do almost all the graphical work I need: resizing and cropping screenshots, marking up Google Maps images with lines and arrows, and even adding gradients to those images that could use a little light and shadow. Pixlr can do a lot of what Photoshop can do, but can also make a very quick birthday card. Keep it bookmarked, and grab its extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Boomerang adds one of those “Well, duh” features to Gmail that you can’t believe Google didn’t think of itself: sending away mail to be sent out at a later time, and reminding you of email that you sent out a while ago. Boomerang is offered for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and each extension integrates tightly with the existing Gmail infrastructure.

Draft is where you write things that are worth taking the time to write. Have you ever lost a whole blog post, customer service email, or team update due to a browser crashing or an internet connection going down? Install the Draft extension for Chrome, Firefox, or just bookmark the site for use with Safari or other browsers (with other browsers to follow eventually), and you’ll find that you can easily write in a smart, clean space and easily post an HTML or rich-text version of your thoughts, wherever they may be needed.

Vimium is, honestly, a very nerdy tool. But some people might find it really handy, even if they’ve never coded with Vim. Once you install Vimium for Chrome, or VimFx or Vimium for Firefox, or Vimari for Safari, you see how you can use the keyboard to copy, navigate to, and otherwise manipulate web pages, without ever lifting your fingers off the keys. How useful that is depends on your workflow, and how much more you get done when you can focus on what you need to write, versus what you need to click upon.

Give these tools a try – you might be pleasantly surprised at how much easier these and other browser extensions can make things for you at work.