Beefing up your browser

Sometimes I forget the IT knowledge I have gained over the years. You just take it for granted. This morning I was using one of my browser apps and I was thinking how many of them do I use.

Okay, let me start off again. It’s 22 years ago since I began my life of IT where I got a job in Dublin’s first Internet Cafe, the Internet Exchange on Lwr Stephens St. I believe Nettl or Printing.com are based their now. We had around 1,800 online users in the whole of Ireland at the time. We had 18 computers on our cafe network and we were using the latest Netscape Navigator. As techies, we used to laugh at Microsoft’s first browser and bizarrely in a clients office the other day, I noticed how I’m still astounded to this day, that people still use Internet Explorer. As to why not to use IE, the list of reasons is a book in itself.

So, I tend to use Chrome for 98% of everything I do, whilst still having copies of Firefox and Explorer for checking compatibilities issues with designs for clients. Whilst, with Chrome I realised I have some pretty cool free browser apps that I use consistently, and today as I went to do a spring clean, realised I still was using the majority of the ones I have currently installed.

A browser app is a small application that furthers the capabilities of your browsers whilst you are surfing the web or doing work. All of the ones I use are free although were there to be one that I felt supported me greatly in my business, I can see myself paying a small fee for it. I thought it might be nice to run through the ones I use in brief to give you an idea of the range of extra tools you can have at hand.

Shortcuts for Google – as someone who uses a variety of Google tools continuously I installed this one a number of years ago before Google integrated the Google Apps button in the top right of the majority of their products. They are Shortcut buttons for the selection of Google Products you use the most.

Window Resizer – the absolute must for Consultants, Designers, UX , etc. Simple browser resize tool showing you how web pages will view at different sizes.

Bit.ly – just love this one. Use it all the time for Marketing Campaigns and Client projects. Bit.ly itself is a URL Shortener, what I love about the app is the ease of assigning a bit.ly to a web page and more importantly the Customisation of the URL to something more memorable.

Google Bookmarks – do people still use Bookmarks? I have been collecting web pages of interest for over 10 years this way. Handy for projects and client research. Simple to use, sometimes fails to load.

Page Ruler – always forget about this one. Handy for developers and designer. Immediate draggable crosshairs to show you the physical pixel dimensions of objects on your screen.

AdBlock – automatically blocks a lot of advertising rubbish. Forget I have it on until I notice websites saying, I need to turn it off, to use them.

Google Analytics URL Builder – create customised links for Inbound Marketing Campaigns to track all the hard work you put in to bring customers into your client’s websites.

Page Analytics – immediately (when logged in and account added) shows you the analytics (on-screen) of your/your client’s websites. CTRs etc

Google Calendar – immediate drop down scrollable window of your Google Calendar appointments and immediate ability to add a new appointment.

ColorZilla – need the HEX, RGB or CMYK colours from any element on a web page.

Lipsum.com – seems a bit mad. Immediate Lorum Ipsum holding text for your content holder pre-design or layout designs.

CloudSave – right click on any page and save it directly into your cloud account, i.e. Google Drive, Dropbox, etc

Boomerang – a handy little tool for sending yourself reminders of Gmails you open or articles you want to read at a later stage.

Office Editing for Docs – a nice app that allows you to immediately view and open Word Docs in Google Docs without converting first.

Grammarly – kind of in love with this one at the mo. Recognises as you are typing and checks the grammar of what you type and offers suggestions of how to improve it. Does not work with Google Docs although with most other things. New one for me and addicted.

Time Tracker – not really using it. Tracks the amount of time you use websites for.

Checker Plus for Gmail – allows you immediate access to your Gmail without opening another tab.

Wikiwand – beautifies Wikipedia pages to more visually appealing format. Real nice.

Rapportive – recently bought by LinkedIn. Very handy tool for seeing some background info from people you either receive or send emails from directly in your Gmail inbox. For those of you who dont use Gmail, you can always use the Gmail application as our email software and benefit from all the software features. `

These are the ones I use regularly in my working week. Perhaps you have some handy tips on how to boost your browser to be more than an HTML viewer, that you might wish to share.

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