10 Chrome Extensions And Apps That Will Get You Into Work Mode

August 21, 2014 - Written By Phil Bourget

With the time of back-to-school coming closer, and some of us having already started, it’s time to shop for productivity applications and tools whether or not we end up ultimately using them.  Having gotten together a great group of things to aid in productivity makes you feel productive, and that can snowball for the rest of the day, week, month, or year even.  So here we have compiled a list of ten useful and recommended Google Chrome extensions.  For the list, each extension is available in the Chrome Web Store, and the name to search for will be the last part, in double-quotes, like “this” to make searching easy.  Let’s go!

First, we have the ‘everyone has one, but nobody uses it’ dictionary extension.  Teachers and professors alike often recommend a dictionary, but they’re heavy and inconvenient, and sometimes you really can’t be bother, whether for time or attention, to Google something.  Google has a dictionary extension for those very people.  Simply double click on a word and a little pop-up will show the word, pronunciation, offer an audio pronunciation, and give the definition, right from what you were doing.  Just a double-click away.  Look for “Google Dictionary”, and you might learn something new about a word you thought you knew.

Next, there’s the companion for any student who is taking a foreign language, or has taken one and forgotten what that one word means in Swahili or Portuguese.  Well, Google strikes again, with the Translate extension.  This one works on whole web pages though, so single words might still need trusty translate.google.com to get the job done.  But if you’re like me, and you come across whole websites in German, Portuguese, or Mandarin Chinese, then this might save you a lot of time.  But remember, the translation is only as good as the contribution, so remember to use some of your own knowledge and context clues to figure out some of the more…funky translation errors.  Look for “Google Translate” in the web store, and you can be on your way to being ‘that guy’ in French class after a particularly unfair Internet homework assignment.

Now, we have our last Google service here, and it’s one of the most useful to everyone with a Google account.  Google Drive can help simplify getting a file from your home computer to your work one for that presentation to the board, or that essay to your friend’s printer the morning that the assignment is due.  Save to Google Drive is super useful, and it’s also super simple.  It takes the webpage you are currently on, and saves it to your active (or selected, if you have more than one signed in) Google account’s Drive space for later viewing and easy sharing.  You can select the page to be saved as a full html file, a Google document, or PNG image file.  That’s what I call useful.  It actually is.  Anyway, go get “Save to Google Drive” and be a show-off with your file management skills.

Now we have yet another Google extension, and it’s one people will like if they have a particularly tech-inept friend or family member, or they just want to mess with a friend at a distance.  Chrome Remote Desktop is a great tool with a simple functionality, but a lot of functionality too.  You allow external access to your computer via Chrome (and don’t worry, you can set a PIN to secure it from your clever and pesky friends and family) and you can access the computer remotely from another computer with the same extension installed.  Additionally, you can access your computer with CRD installed from your Android smartphone or tablet, and have complete control over it from the space in your pocket (or bag, if using a tablet).  Go check out “Chrome Remote Desktop” to see if it will work and simplify your life a little.

And here we have the last Google extensions, so we cater to folks without Google accounts or are just sick of ‘Google products for a Google product’ lists.  Google loves connecting us via Chrome, and Chrome to Mobile is no different.  It lets you connect and sync your list of devices synced with Chrome, and you can send web pages to them directly.  So if you need a site, your secretary or friend can send you the whole page instead of a link to type in.  Search for “Chrome to Phone” in the web store, but if you want more functionality than that, keep reading, folks.

As promised, this won’t be the ‘get everything Google’ kind of list, and here we have our first non-Google extension, called Pushbullet.  Now, anyone that uses it already knows exactly why it’s on the list.  The Chrome extension can link with a free Android app of the same name and developer, and it lets you send links for pages, images, you name it between connected devices, linked by your Google account.  You can even, sync notifications.  Yeah, you can have you phone or tablet mirror its notifications to show up on your computer screen, so just plug in the device, and be productive.  Search “Pushbullet” in the store to get started on the road for productivity, and be sure to also download the Android app from the Play Store as well.

Ever wanted to read something later, like a great story from your favorite blog or a piece from someone at Android Headlines (other news sites are available), but don’t have the battery, time, or connectivity to do so?  Pocket has you covered!  If you need to save a page from Wikipedia to read later after finishing gathering research material, you can do that.  If you find something hilarious on a blog, you can save the page and send it to the people will find it just as hilarious as you did.  Once you have a Pocket account set up, you can save whole web pages to your account, which syncs them across all connected devices (there is an Android and an iOS app for Pocket as well, so it’s not just for us PC users).  If you want to save a page that is particularly volatile, and might get taken down, and save it either for evidence or for nostalgic purposes, Pocket saves the images as well as the text, and links to other pages remain intact too.  If that sounds interesting or superbly useful, go pick it up by looking for “Pocket” and make an account.

For anyone that lives by a calendar or to-do list, we have the extension for you.  Any.do is one of the best to-do list and reminder apps that I’ve used, both across the iOS and the Android app ecosystems.  With an Any.do account, you have a fully synchronized to-do list and agenda, which looks great as well as functioning just as it should.  From the little spot at the end of the address bar in Chrome, you click the icon and the list of things you set up to do shows itself, and it’s the same interface and amount of information that you put in on your phone, and edited on your tablet.  If you live by an agenda, or want to start to, then go pick up Any.do and set up your account.  Just search “Any.do Extension” and get to it.

Here’s something to streamline the social aspects of productivity.  Many of us may have a window full of research and academic things, but in another window, we have Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  But what if you find something while researching, but don’t want to open up Pinterest to pin it?  Well, with the pin it button extension, you can be done with your moment or two of fun time and get back to being productive.  Say you look up some part of history, and find a recipe linked from the 1800s in France or the 1700s in Pennsylvania, and want to share it.  If you have the pin it button installed, you can!  Then you can get back to what you were likely supposed to be doing in the first place, and make that recipe for dinner after work or class.  Search for “Pin It Button” if you love Pinterest and productivity (or want to explain how that combination occurs).

Now, for those of us who may not own a Chromecast but want the functionality, here is AllCast.  From renowned Android app developer Koushik Dutta comes AllCast.  Chromecast is limited, but AllCast lets you cast from your Android phone or tablet to your Apple TV, your Roku, and even your computer!  The free version of the Android app is limited to five minutes, but the $5 USD to unlock the full and unlimited version is more than worth it, if you want to play a movie on your phone to your TV or computer but don’t have $35 to spend on a Chromecast to maybe work..  The receiver app is available on the Chrome web Store, and it is just that, a receiver.  It is a screen for playing back media.  It’s great for showing diagrams and photos from the construction site to a manager, or just giving a picture-based presentation to the class, and being a smooth tech-savvy person while doing it.  If you’ve got $5 and media to stream and show, then pick up the app from Google Play, simply search AllCast, and get the receiver app from the Chrome store by looking for “AllCast Receiver” and be a show-off, you earned it (and paid for it too).

And that’s a list of ten productive and productivity-enabling extensions, and their partner apps.  Do you have one that you’d like to have seen?  Let us know.  If you use any of the ones on our list, do you use it for good or for evil, for getting stuff done fast or getting stuff done in the nick of time?  Go try those ten out and let us know if they helped your workflow or simply impressed your classmates and coworkers.