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When Google launched its Google Chrome browser, I was instantly smitten: The address bar did double duty as a URL display and search box. It was a simple concept, yet it was strong enough to convert me from Firefox.
Three years later, Chrome offers thousands of extensions that allow users to custom-build their browser for better searching, storing and privacy settings. Shoppers can add extensions that store their most wanted goods (Add to Amazon Wishlist); design freaks can opt for a sleek, 3-D image display (Cooliris); and jetsetters can translate websites into English with one click (Google Translate).
Here are a few other reasons why I love Google Chrome:
1. I kick personalized ads to the curb.
Personalized ads can feel a little too Orwellian, especially when they’re generated from your most personal emails and most private of Web searches (er, uh, “best hemorrhoid cream?”). Opt out by installing the “Keep My Opt-outs” extension. This will prevent companies that are part of the Network Advertising Initiative from targeting ads to what you type.
2. I stay under the radar.
To keep your browsing and downloads from being recorded in your history -- and to prevent cookies from being kept after you close a window -- switch to incognito mode. Once you’re browsing in incognito mode, Chrome won’t store any information about the websites you’ve visited -- a must when working on a shared or public computer. Want an extra layer of protection? Pause the Web history tracking stored in your Google Account before you browse.
3. I optimize my Web surfing.
Check out the Extensions section of the Chrome Web Store for free add-ons. Whether you’re a blogger, sports nut or photographer, you can find extensions by filtering them by categories on the left-hand side of the page. After you install an extension, it will automatically update with new features. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Aviary Image Editor: Lets you capture a screen-grab and edit a picture, like a mini Photoshop, without leaving the browser.
- Shareaholic: Love sharing Web finds with your friends? This extension allows you to share via Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and more by clicking on an icon in the toolbar. No need to navigate away from the page or to open another program.
- TooMany Tabs for Chrome: When you have 57 tabs open in your browser and are starting to feel overwhelmed, this extension will help you navigate and manage them all.
- AdBlock: This does just what it says (blocks ads) and is the most popular extension for Chrome.
- ChromeVis: The Web can be impossible to navigate if you have poor vision. This extension lets you magnify any selected text on a Web page and customize the magnification box by changing print and background colors to best suit your needs.
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