While many businesses stick with Microsoft Internet Explorer by default, Google Chrome surpassed Explorer this year as the most popular browser, with 43 percent of internet users worldwide.
The excellent blog Digital Inspiration has put together a comprehensive list of more than 70 useful extensions for Chrome (an extension is a plug-in for the browser that adds a specific feature). Several are particularly useful for businesses using Google Apps for email and documents.
Send from Gmail
A nifty extension created by Google that abolishes the copy-paste routine for sharing web pages. Send from Gmail adds a button to the Chrome toolbar which creates a new Gmail message with the page title as the subject and the selected page text and link address as the message. Very neat. Digital Inspiration says it works for both Gmail and Google Apps for Gmail accounts.
Boomerang is much more than a single-shot Chrome plug-in. It adds features to Gmail (Google Apps users too) which bring the browser program closer to the functionality of Outlook and other desktop mail clients.
Boomerang’s headline feature is to schedule emails to send at a preferred time. The plug-in adds a Send Later button next to the Send button in the Gmail compose window. Boomerang is a commercial plug-in and the free account lets you send 10 messages a month.
Other nifty features include response tracking. Users can track responses to any emails they send or receive and set Boomerang to remind them if they don’t get a reply. This is really useful for sales inquiries or other email conversations where the other party may need a follow-up.
Boomerang also adds recurring messages. Write an email once and send it every day, week, month or custom time interval.
Boomerang has a mobile app for sending delayed emails. You can also send notes to yourself, which operate as delayed reminders. Google Tasks or iOS Reminders might be simpler to use, however.
This Gmail extension links your Gmail account with Google Drive, Dropbox or Microsoft’s SkyDrive. Attachments.me adds a small button to incoming emails with attachments which lets you upload the file to your cloud storage account.
A very handy feature is the ability to create rules to automatically save attachments from incoming messages into pre-defined folders.
The service works the other way round, too. When writing an email you can insert a file from those same cloud services.
Attachments.me is a commercial plugin. The free plan is limited to two rules and 100MB size limits, 75 files a month and restricted search. Paid plans ($6 and $9 per month) add read receipts, a 5GB file size limit, and unlimited files.
Save to Google Drive
Ever found a PDF online and wanted to save it for later? The normal process is to download the PDF to your desktop and upload it to your Google Drive (or drag it across to the locally synced version of Google Drive).
Save to Google Drive cuts out the extra step by saving online files (images, HTML5 audio, video and documents) to Google Drive with one click.
An added bonus – the extension can save full-length screenshots of any web page to Google Drive as a PNG file. It also saves web pages as Google Documents or raw HTML files.
Evernote is a great alternative for saving reading material and research but it means your files are split over Google Apps and Evernote.
Chrome to Mobile
Sometimes you don’t have time to finish that article in the office and want to finish it on the train home.
Chrome to Mobile lets you send the webpage to a mobile phone or tablet which has the Chrome browser installed. (Chrome is the native browser for Android devices and can be downloaded to iPhones and iPads.)
Chrome to Mobile lets you read the page offline by sending it as a PDF. The downside is that articles won’t automatically appear on all of your devices – you must select one mobile device from a dropdown menu.
Digital Inspiration suggests using it to send maps or long-form articles to your mobile.
Setting up a new employee with cloud apps is much easier and faster than using desktop software. Just hand over a list of usernames, passwords and URLs and they’re ready to go. But what about sharing that list of productivity-boosting extensions?
Share Extensions creates a text list which you can email to colleagues. Unfortunately it won’t automatically install the extensions for you – there doesn’t appear to be an easy way to do that yet. UPDATE: BoxFreeIT reader @jknibb points out that Google Apps administrators can specify plug-ins and extensions to be automatically included when a Google Apps user installs Chrome. Great tip.