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How to maximize your web browser’s performance with seven essential extensions

The aim of these small programs, which are installed into Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Edge, is to make it easier and safer to view pages and to enhance the user experience of online stores and web services

Google Chrome
The Google Chrome logo on the background of a silhouette of a woman holding a mobile phone.Rafael Henrique (SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
José Mendiola Zuriarrain

Chrome reigns supreme in the web browser market, accounting for about 63% of sessions globally, according to data from Statista. However, simply calling this popular Google product a browser would be a gross understatement, since it effectively operates as a platform on which you can install apps that boost potential usability. Known as extensions, their main advantage is allowing the user to install the ones they desire and to customize, activate or deactivate them as they please.

These extensions operate as small programs that are embedded in the browser and allow you to block unwanted advertisements or manage passwords securely. The way they work is straightforward: once the user chooses an extension from the Chrome Web Store and installs it, it is added to the Chrome interface, appearing as an icon in the toolbar.

Main extensions

In the vastness of the virtual world, navigation can sometimes be a complex experience. However, with the help of certain tools, users can make the most of their time online, safeguard their privacy and personalize their browsing experience. Other popular browsers, like Firefox, Edge or Safari, also have a number of extensions, but their range is not as extensive as that of Chrome. They have been designed to enhance the capabilities of your computer’s web browser, and most of them run their own app to allow you to access them on cell phones and tablets. These are the most highly recommended extensions:

1Password

1Password is one of the most popular extensions for managing passwords. Password managers ensure that users keep all their passwords encrypted and, when embedded in the browser, you only need to validate access (biometrically, if available, or with a password). 1Password allows a user to complete banking transactions and access their accounts on the web, with increased confidence that the information travels securely.

Also available for Safari, Firefox, and Edge.

Monica

This is an innovative Chrome extension powered by ChatGPT-4 technology. Its ability to understand and respond to queries in real time makes it a valuable tool for querying without having to leave the browser. To understand how to take advantage of Monica, let’s imagine that you are working on a project involving renewable energies. While reading an article about solar energy on a website, you stumble upon an unfamiliar technical term. Instead of opening a new tab to search for the definition, you can simply activate the Monica extension, enter your query, and you’ll receive a detailed explanation in real time. This not only saves you time, but it also ensures that your workflow stays uninterrupted, making research or learning more efficient.

Also available for Edge, and as a separate app for Windows and macOS.

Dark Reader

Dark Reader is a popular Chrome extension that enhances the visual browsing experience by adapting websites to dark mode. Although it may seem simple, this tool does more than simply inverting colors. It uses advanced algorithms to ensure that images, web pages and text are displayed in a harmonious aesthetic, minimizing visual fatigue in low-light environments. Dark Reader also offers a high degree of customization, enabling the user to adjust the contrast, brightness, and saturation to their liking. This extension reduces eyestrain and makes browsing more visually comfortable.

Also available for Safari, Firefox, and Edge.

Pocket

Pocket is an essential tool for anyone who regularly surfs the web. It is embedded in Chrome with an inconspicuous icon and allows you to save articles, videos and other content with a simple click so that you can visit them later, even when you are offline. All you have to do is click on the Pocket button when you find something that interests you. This enables a student to store multiple sources for an assignment, or an enthusiast of a specific field to save useful references for future use. Pocket’s interface is user-friendly, and it displays the stored content in an organized way for later reading (it even features a ‘reader mode’ function). While the basic version is completely free, those who wish to access more features can pay an annual subscription fee that includes intelligent tagging of stored content, among other things.

Also available for Safari, Firefox, and Edge.

Momentum

Momentum is an extension that modifies the appearance and functionality of the browser’s home page. It substitutes the traditional white background behind the most visited sites icons with a high-quality photograph that changes from one day to the next, displaying landscapes, natural scenery or urban sights. Accompanying these images, an inspirational or motivational quote is placed at the bottom of the screen, and this varies from day to day. In addition, on the side of the screen, a list of tasks can be accessed, which enables tasks to be added and completed as they are performed. Momentum also provides a space in the center of the screen to write and specify a main task for that day, providing a constant reminder each time you open a new tab. Complementing these features is a clock that displays the current time along with a personalized greeting according to the time of day. For those looking for more features, the premium version offers integration with other tools and services, including task management and calendar applications.

Also available for Safari, Firefox, and Edge.

OneTab

Do you have too many open tabs in your browser? OneTab comes to the rescue and does so in a very smart way. A simple click on the OneTab icon groups all tabs into a single one, displaying an ordered list of links. This straightforward procedure not only simplifies the interface, but it can also free up some 95% of memory, significantly enhancing your browser’s performance. This extension allows you to cluster links according to topics, share lists of links and restore specific tabs, so that you could be working on a specific task, and then move on to something else, without losing all your tabs.

Also available for Firefox and Edge.

StayFocusd

StayFocusd is the go-to extension for those who get distracted early and are prone to procrastination. The purpose of this extension is to minimize the time spent on websites that divert attention away from your main objective. This extension allows users to schedule a certain period of time to browse certain websites and, after this period has expired, it prohibits access to them, encouraging users to resume priority tasks. This means that if you spend too much time on social media, with StayFocusd you can set a daily limit for yourself, and if you exceed this limit, the tool will step in to block your browsing on these domains. Although this might be perceived as a rather drastic measure, the extension operates as an effective alert for priority tasks, thereby helping you to establish more structured and focused browsing habits.

Also available for Edge.

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