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Google Chrome has gained popularity and market share as a fast and minimalist browser, mirroring the early success of the Google search engine in the last decade. However, as a web browser, there have been increasing demands for features taken for granted in other applications. In version 4 of the Chrome browser, the user can now add extensions in the manner of Firefox, and by using these extensions provide some of the facilities provided for other browsers that have been missing in Chrome to date. Google Chrome plugins are in their infancy: there are many less than are available for Firefox, and many of them mirror similar add-ons in Firefox, but there are still over 2400 listed at https://chrome.google.com/extensions. However, provided they do not significantly impact upon Chrome's performance, which is one of its great strengths, they are likely to significantly enhance its popularity. They install with impressive speed with generally one click which inspires confidence in maintaining Chrome’s competitive edge in this area. This article describes my personal selection of the best Google Chrome plugins.
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IETab Classic: best Google Chrome Plugin for (Reluctant) Internet Explorer users
If you are developing web content and using Chrome to view the results of your labours, you cannot ignore the fact that they may be rendered differently in Internet Explorer. More remarkably, you may still encounter web content which will not function correctly in any other browser. Now Google Chrome users can do what Firefox user have been doing for years: render the page as in Internet Explorer without leaving their preferred browser. Load IETab to stay within your preferred browser when you want to access a page like the majority of the world or when the web developer hasn't bothered to accommodate your favourite browser.
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Docs PDF/PowerPoint Viewer: Best Google Chrome Plugin for Viewing Other File Formats
This Chrome plug-in builds upon the browser's main attribute: speed. The plug-in provides a way to view Acrobat or PowerPoint files using the GoogleDocs Viewer, which is much faster than using the plug-in viewers provided by the original providers. There are some compatibility issues but mostly it works just fine and retains the speed of the Chrome browsing experience.
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Shareaholic: Best Google Chrome Plugin for Social Networking
In this day and age, social networking and sharing content is a major part of the browsing experience. Shareaholic provides a convenient way to access social networking sites. It provides a quick way to share the URL of the page you are browsing with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Digg. It also provides access to Bit.ly which allows you to generate a short URL which may be emailed from a range of providers.
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Mini Google Maps: Simplest Google Chrome Plugin That Does a Useful Job
The most distinctive extensions for Chrome are those that integrate with other Google applications, such as the Docs PDF Powerpoint Viewer. Whilst that has wide application, my personal favourite is Mini Google Maps. To all intents and purposes, it is just a short cut to Google Maps that sits up on your tool bar waiting to be clicked. However, I like maps, it’s simple, convenient and it works. Enough said.
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RSS Subscription Extension: Most Necessary If Not the Best Google Chrome Plugin
OK, this is not my favourite extension, but it addresses a major limitation of Chrome as installed. Chrome lacks the ability of browsers such as Firefox to subscribe to RSS feeds through its active bookmarking technology. This removes my need for a separate RSS feed, and greatly increases my use of RSS feeds by its sheer convenience. The Chrome RSS Subscription Extension is not comparable (yet!). It requires a two-step process to subscribe to a feed. First you hit the familiar orange button to subscribe, and then you need to open Google Reader to actually read the syndicated material. Hopefully, this will become slicker with further development
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The best Google Chrome plugins correct a major lack in previous versions of Chrome, and offer familiar functionality that users have come to expect from other browsers. Some do not yet match their Firefox rivals, and hopefully future developments will address this as well as develop more distinctive Google Chrome plugins.