My Six Favorite Chrome Browser Extensions For Writers

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Within the past year, I’ve trying to be more deliberate with my time and experiences. Part of this process means utilizing tools that deliver the most optimized online working experience without becoming distractions themselves. To help me do this, a handful of Chrome browser extensions have made a significant difference in helping to either streamline certain tasks or create an optimized working environment. In this article, I’m going to share these Chrome browser extensions, a short rundown of what they do, and why I like them.

1. Grammarly

What it does:

Once you sign up for a free Grammarly account (or paid if you want to go crazy — I haven’t yet), the service follows you everywhere you can input text within your browser. Any spelling or grammatical mistakes appear underlined in red. As you hover over the underlined mistake, the service offers a handful of suggestions that can be applied immediately. You can choose to apply or ignore these recommendations at a moment’s notice.   

Why I like it:

This spellcheck-on-steroids has undoubtedly helped me increase the quality of my writing. I can make quick corrections on the fly that don’t take my mind out of the writing process. I agree with their marketing materials that say, “If you do any writing online, you need to get Grammarly.”

2. Dark Reader

What it does:

Dark Reader allows you to view pages through a “dark” ( or “night”) mode — similar to how a GPS app or device screen switches a night mode in the evenings. If you don’t want Dark Reader active on a certain page, you can quickly disable it in a handy panel located in the extension toolbar. You can also adjust the brightness, contrast, sepia, or grayscale of any page with ease. Overall, Dark Reader gives you greater control of the viewing experience of any web page.

Why I like it:

I first grew to prefer a dark/night mode when I would read Kindle books. Since then, I have moved work stations in my office back with our web developers and programmers — a space where the lights are completely turned off and everyone is responsible for illuminating their own workspaces with assorted lamps and backlights. Working in the dark with bright, white-background screens can take its toll on the eyes due to the tremendous contrast. In addition to my very dark office, I’ve also found that I prefer working with a dark-mode-enabled Google Doc word processor in any lighting condition. As a side effect of using this extension, I’ve also enabled as many dark modes as I can on my Android device (there isn’t a system-wide dark mode setting yet). I’ve also heard that working in a dark mode saves battery power, though I have yet to see a significant change.

3. AdBlock

What it does:

AdBlock essentially blocks advertisements on websites where they may encumber the viewing experience. It also removes pop-ups, auto-play videos, and ads that show up within your reading line for articles (an ad-placement technique I find self-defeating on the part of the webmaster). The downside of using this extension is that many sites can detect that you’re using AdBlock and will reduce your use of the sites if you don’t deactivate it or “whitelist” their page.

Why I like it:

Since moving further away from social media, most of my online activity has been reading assorting articles. In the past, the sheer volume of intrusive ads made the content nearly unreadable. AdBlock greatly reduces the amount of distracting ads, though it still leaves unintrusive ads in order to give the websites a fair shot at generating ad revenue.

4. Buffer

What it does:

When connected with your Buffer account, you’re able to easily share the URL of whichever page you’re visiting on your social media accounts. You can also customize the accompanying text and the way the link preview appears before it is published, then adding these pre-designed shares to a posting schedule that publishes these shares at a later time or date.

What I like it:

Copying a URL, navigating to a social media site, pasting the link, tweaking the accompanying language, and publishing it…is a pain. It’s also quite distracting to have to navigate to the accompanying social media site — where just a few new notifications can lead you down a rabbit trail. Buffer makes it easy to quickly share websites and content that you find meaningful.

Note: While you can post to a Facebook Business or Personality page from Buffer, Facebook does not allow sharing to personal profiles with third-party applications — probably because they fear you’ll never actually log back onto Facebook to be served up their ads. Remember: If you’re not paying for something only, that usually means that you are the product.

5. Google Keep

What it does:

Aside from this extension, Keep is a Google note-taking tool that I use pretty much every day. In addition to being able to navigate to and immediately start taking individual notes, the Keep Chrome extension allows you to bookmark any URL you happen to be on as well as add your own notes or categorization hashtags. These notes can be accessed later by any device where you are logged in to your Google account.

Why I like it:

As an avid note taker, it’s extremely helpful to have my notes in one place that I can access from my work computer, home computer, and mobile device. I use the Keep Chrome extension as a Bookmarks tool that I can easily access from any of my devices. I find it especially helpful when I come across something I would be interested in delving into more on my mobile device, but don’t have time to at the moment. I can simply “Save to” Keep and access it at a later time.

6. TRAY Readability Tool

What it does:
This tool allows you to gain insights on any text on your screen. Whether it is something you’ve written or text on a website, you simply highlight the text, click the extension icon, and you receive a plethora of statistics about the content including:

Why I like it:

One of the greatest challenges facing any writer is keeping your writing simple. It’s easy to toss long sentences and “$10 words” into your writing. The true challenge is writing content that anyone can enjoy — from a college professor to a 4th grader. I use these readability tests to gauge the size of my head in the editing process. I wrote a blog article about the idea of writing in a simple way for my company’s blog a few months ago. To date, it has been my biggest struggle as a writer.

Sidenote: I’ve also found the Hemingway Editor to be a tremendous tool for simplifying your writing.

Do you have any favorite Chrome browser extensions? How do you use them and why do you like them?

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