I never thought the day would come when I would consider replacing my Mozilla Firefox browser shortcuts with those of a different web browser, but it finally has. One of the best features of Mozilla Firefox (to me) is and has been its extensibility via add-ons that extend the browser capabilities, like capturing part of a web page to an image and being able to annotate and save it, or bookmarks synchronization, or printing only certain parts of a web page in order to save paper and ink.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome

About a year ago, I surveyed the Google Chrome web browser. At the time, I had made a small investment in Firefox and a group of add-ons and extensions that I regularly use and like. I couldn't find similar ones for Google Chrome, but was impressed with how fast it opened and loaded web pages. It may have even been in beta, but I didn't feel that it was ready for migration to a main web browser at the time.

Extensions provide additional functionality in the web browser. One of the best extensions I have found is Adblock. This will automatically block ads on web pages as your surf, and results in a faster web browsing experience because you don't have to download these items while surfing. I didn't realize how many junk ads are out there until my wife and I were on the same web sites while sitting next to each other. She was using IE and I was using Firefox with the Adblock extension. What a huge difference! I'll take the no-ad version any day. I pay for my Internet access and I don't need to see advertisements as a condition of web browsing. Now, some ads are unavoidable, but you will definitely see 90-95% less ads if you use Adblock Plus...

TV commercials fall into the same category too, and I pay for my cable access, so why do I want to have to watch commercials? I don't! And as far as TV commercials, I will admit that I will watch the ones that air during Saturday Night Live! or the Super Bowl, but that's it for the most part...

As far as security, Chrome has built-in malware and phishing protection. It even has an "incognito window" mode that effectively cloaks your information from being revealed if you are unsure of a web site's credibility.

There are many extensions available for either Firefox or Chrome. Here are links to download Google Chrome and several of my favorite extensions. Note that you'll want to visit these using Chrome as they're Chrome-specific:

  • Get Google Chrome
  • Get Google Chrome Extensions
  • 1-ClickWeather for Chrome - Current weather conditions, maps, and the outlook for the next 24 hours in an easy to scan format from The Weather Channel.
  • AdBlock - Get rid of annoying ads while surfing.
  • Awesome Screenshot: Capture & Annotate - Capture the whole page or any portion, annotate it with rectangles, circles, arrows, lines and text, blur sensitive info, one-click upload to share. Support PNG/JPG and shortcuts.
  • Browser Button for AdBlock - If you have already installed AdBlock and want a browser action button, install this too.
  • Eye Dropper - Sample the colors in any web page.
  • Facebook Photo Zoom - Automatically zooms facebook photos when you hover your mouse over them.
  • Firebug Lite for Google Chrome - Allows web page code inspection and temporary modification.
  • FlashBlock - Very similar to AdBlock, this allows you to selectively block Flash media, and has a whitelist manager.
  • Google Dictionary (by Google) - Double click on a word (or control-double-click if configured) to view a pop-up definition on the fly!
  • HTML Validator - Validates web pages against the W3C Validation tool.
  • Print Plus - Print only what matters! Make quick selections on a page and print only relevant sections of a web page. Save ink and paper!
  • Wikipedia Companion - Essential extension for any Wikipedia users. Full-featured: saves your recent wiki lookups, multi-lingual, back/forward and more!
  • Xmarks Bookmark and Password Sync - Backup and sync your bookmarks, passwords and open tabs across computers and browsers. Xmarks is also available for Firefox, Safari and IE. Best extension I have found yet!

One thing I am watching and waiting for in the Google Chrome extensions arena is a true FTP client extension. Since I work on web sites, sometimes you want to make a quick edit or grab a file for testing. The FireFTP extension for Firefox lets you open an FTP transfer client application in a web browser tab. Way cool! Mozilla Firefox still appears to have more available extensions than Google Chrome, but the tide also appears to be changing in this area.

So in summary, you should check out Google Chrome. You will likely be impressed with it's speed and versatility. I know I am!


P.S. I still have Firefox installed, and can't bring myself to uninstall it. I feel like it's an old friend, since I have been using it since its beta days, and still do use it for web page testing... 😉