Our favorite Chrome extensions of 2021

I hadn’t heard of most of the Chrome extensions that Sarem Gizaw lists as 2021 favorites. Here are my hot takes on all of them, except the virtual learning specific ones that aren’t very relevant to me.

LoomOh that’s neat how it records your screen and your camera, encouraging you to do little personal walkthroughs of a thing for someone. I actually had a guest author use this to pitch an idea and it was both above-and-beyond in a good way, and didn’t look overly difficult to do. I like how it’s a browser app, meaning that something like a Chromebook could use it even though it feels like an app that would otherwise be native. MoteSimilar in spirit to Loom—leave feedback with your voice instead of writing it out by hand. This is clearly a much more personal way to do things. I wonder if it’s big in the eduction space where that student/teacher connection would be bolstered by this. WordtuneLooks like a competitor to Grammarly. I like to see that sort of competition. That said, I think Grammarly is good, though a bit heavy handed sometimes. It’s nice to see them being pushed by another player in the same space. ForestI’m skeptical of productivity apps that ultimately feel like yet-another-app I need to use and learn. But maybe it’s worth it if the point is that it keeps you on task and away from distracting apps? I was very skeptical of Centered, but it really did seem to help the times I tried it. Dark ReaderThis forces dark mode on sites that otherwise don’t have one. I’ve heard it does a pretty decent job. Tab Manager PlusI’m as guilty as anyone for having too many tabs open… all the time. But now that Chrome has tab groups natively (as well as “pinning”), I just roll with that.NimbusInteresting that this is in an entirely different category that Loom. I guess it’s more about screenshots than video. Note that you don’t need a browser plugin to do full-length screenshots—in DevTools you can do CMD+Shift+P then search for “Capture Full Size Screenshot.” I actually use that quite a bit. For other screenshots, I’m super hot on Cleanshot. StylusI love that this exists and that it is still somewhat actively developed (a beta exists). Being able to slap some extra CSS onto sites of your own liking and have it persist is super cool, and a community of user-created styles for other websites is even cooler.RakutenThis is one of those things that automatically applies coupons during checkout to eCommerce stores. Skeeves me out for some reason, especially the “Cash Back” idea. I would think that if they are sending you money, it’s because they are making money off of you, meaning it’s from hidden-feeling affiliate partnerships or by selling your purchase data and personal details.

Browser extensions have come a long way toward being cross-browser compatible, so I’d think a lot of these are available for Safari and Firefox now—or at least could be without enormous amounts of work if the authors felt like doing it.

Notably, there are no ad blocker plugins in the list. Not a huge surprise there, even though I’m sure they are some of the most-downloaded and used. I use Ghostery, but I haven’t re-evaluated the landscape there in a while. I like how Ghostery makes it easy for me to toggle on-and-off individual scripts, both on individual sites and broadly across all sites. That means I could enable BuySellAds (something even Adblock Plus does by default) and Google Analytics scripts, but turn off A/B testers or gross ad networks.

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