Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday Tech Tip: Extensions in Chrome

Jon recently blogged about web apps in Chrome (and using the Chrome Web store), but we also wanted to mention using extensions in Chrome.  Like web apps, you can find extensions in the Chrome Web Store (under the Extensions category).

While most web apps are links to web applications that run solely in a browser, extensions are things that add functionality to the browser itself. Many web apps can be run in browsers other than Chrome (like Google Docs, for example), but Chrome extensions only run in the Chrome browser.  Like bookmarks and apps, your extensions follow you -- and even install themselves -- wherever you log into the Chrome browser (signing into the browser is needed, though, to see any installed extensions).

What are some examples of extensions that might be helpful as a teacher?

  • Clean.r is an extension that eliminates all of the clutter when showing YouTube videos so that only the video is visible (removes recommended videos, comments, and other items on the page).
  • Readability is like Clean.r, except designed for text and articles.  If you visit a web page with  pop-up adds or other distracting elements, you can use the Readability extension to pull out only the article (text and images).  If you have a Kindle and create a Readability account, you can also send articles to your device in Kindle-ready format.
  • Realtime Board is an extension (log in required, but GoogleApps accounts can be used) which creates a collaborative whiteboard inside your browser.  Realtime Board offers free pro accounts to teachers & students (must submit application).
  • Presentation Remote lets you use a smartphone (app installation required on your mobile device) to control presentations in Prezi, Google Presentations, PowerPoint, Slideshare & Dropbox.   
  • Save to GoogleDrive is an extension that is already installed for our users, but it lets you save web pages, images, videos, or other content directly to GoogleDrive.  Right-clicking on an image or video in a web page will bring up the "Save to Google Drive" option.  Or, you can click on the extension icon in your browser (to the right of the URL bar) and it will save the entire page to Google Drive.
  • Chrome Speak will read text out loud (select text with your cursor and right-click to have it read aloud).  The computer voice isn't totally natural, but it's getting better.  (There are quite a few apps & extensions that provide this functionality).
  • Google Dictionary is what is sounds like.  Double-click on any word and the definition will appear (along with an audio pronunciation of the word).  Several languages are available in addition to English.
If you notice that your browser seems slow or is acting up, you can always disable extensions in Chome by typing chrome://extensions/ into the address bar.  This will bring up all installed extensions.  Remove or disable them here.

Happy browsing!

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