We all have our reasons for using a particular internet browser. It could be the look and feel of the browser, it’s functionality, or the setting we never bothered to change. The default versions of Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, and even Edge may work just fine for you without any modifications, but there may have been times when you wished that your browser could do just a little bit more. A browser extension just might be what you’re looking for.
A browser extension, commonly called a “plugin,” is software that increases the capabilities of your browser. Plugins can change how you view pages, save and share data, create shortcuts, or hundreds of other options that can enhance your web experience. All major browsers, except the new Microsoft Edge, have the ability for any user to add a plugin, and a large portion of them are free.
Not Just Any Extension Will Do
Adding a plugin to your browser can be done in a few simple steps. Chrome and Firefox have stores that are dedicated to plugins. But before you add a plugin, there are some things to consider.
- Frequency of use: For every plugin you add, the slower your browser will become. How often you will use the plugin? If you’ll use it at least once a week, then the plugin might be good for you. Enabling a Skype plugin that highlights phone numbers you’ll never call from your computer will probably not be worth the trouble.
- Rating: User ratings should usually be taken with a grain of salt; however, if a plugin has less than a 4 out of 5 rating from over a 100 users, you should probably look for a different plugin.
- Updates: A plugin that is frequently updated is one that will function properly. Check the date of the latest update. If the plugin hasn’t been updated in the last six months, consider a different plugin.
- External sources: While not always the case, plugins that are offered with downloadable software (also known as “third-party bundles” and “bundled software”) require extra caution. These are the sort that add toolbars and promise to enhance search capability, but all they actually do is bombard you with ads or infect your computer with malware or viruses. The best way to avoid these other than by not downloading the software is to customize your download by checking the appropriate boxes to decline the offers.
How to Install a Plugin to Chrome
Adding extensions to Chrome takes only a few minutes. If you don’t know the name of the extension, you can search the Chrome store for your topic just as you would a search engine. Once you find the plugin you want, it’s only a matter of a few clicks to install.
- Open Chrome.
- Go to the Chrome Web Store.
- Use the search tools to locate the desired extension.
- Click Add to Chrome at the top right.
- Click Add extension in the popup message box.
- The extension will install. Depending upon the extension, an icon may appear on the far right of the browser window next to the menu button. This icon controls the extension’s functionality.
How to Remove an Extension from Chrome
Removing an extension from Chrome is easier than adding one. If you realize that an extension is more trouble than its worth, you can get rid of it with a few simple clicks.
- Open Chrome.
- Click the menu button in the upper right corner.
- Select More tools and then Extensions.
- Find the extension that you want to remove, and then click Remove from Chrome.
- A box will appear that to confirm that you want to remove the extension. Click remove.