10 Chrome extensions for streamlined, sped-up productivity

Streamline your web-based workflow! These 10 tools can help. Integrate Google Calendar, share screenshots, and fire up other tools for getting things done.

toshiba chromebook
Credit: Derek Walter
Power up your Chromebook with the right extensions

While there are plenty of web-based tools and productivity tricks to help you power through tasks in your browser, you can step up and speed up your capabilities even more by grabbing some smart Chrome extensions.

These add-ons add more functionality to Chrome for Windows and Chromebook users alike, enabling you to quickly save items to Google Drive, clip articles, or keep tabs on all your social media shares. If we forgot any juicy ones, be sure to let us know about it in the comments!

Also on ITworld: 4 things you (probably) didn't know you can do with Chrome for Linux

google calendar
Google Calendar

The Google Calendar extension simplifies several tasks, eliminating the need to launch the calendar in another browser tab. It gives you quick access to creating a new event or checking out the upcoming schedule, so you don't miss that oh-so-riveting meeting. 

The extension also lets you add any date listed on a webpage as a calendar entry. For example, if you see an event online you want to attend, just highlight the text and right-click—you'll then get a popup to add it straight to your Google Calendar. It's a pretty slick feature, and makes this extension worth having around even if you're not an obsessive planner.

save to google drive
Save to Google Drive

Forget going through the pain of saving an image to your local hard drive and then separately uploading it to Google Drive. With the Save to Google Drive Chrome extension, you can do it with one click. 

You can even clip an entire webpage, saving it as a .png or .html file—just right-click, and it'll be right there waiting for you in your Google Drive. You can also customize which Drive folder the images are saved in. Handy stuff indeed.

snagit
Snagit

The Snagit Chrome extension lets you grab a screenshot or narrate a short video, then quickly save it to your Google Drive

It handles screencasting very well, which is useful if you narrate a lot of walk-throughs or videos for co-workers or clients. Because it directly saves your clippings in Drive, there's no need to dig through your downloaded files to locate them or share them.

You'll need to upgrade to one of the premium plans if you want to keep using Snagit beyond the trial period, but it's a powerful tool that is particularly Chromebook-friendly.

clearly
Clearly

One of the most annoying aspects of today's web is all the clutter. Side columns, blinking ads, "Read this next!" suggestions—it's enough to make you go mad, especially when you're trying to focus on getting something done. 

Fight back with Evernote's Clearly, which strips out all the peripheral content so you can just get to reading. While other extensions (like Readability) do the same, this extension adds in the ability to mark up and highlight the article for easy saving to Evernote. 

Chrome is dabbling with its own native reader mode, but Clearly is a longstanding tool that is essential if you're an Evernote power user.

todoist
Todoist

Todoist is one of the best cross-platform task managers out there. The Todoist Chrome extension lets you add tasks, assign them to others, and check in on what you should be doing right now

The extension works fine as a standalone to-do list at the free level, but a lot of its powers—like being able to categorize your tasks and assign them to others—come from the company's premium subscription

Nevertheless, Todoist's worth checking out. It's handy to have tasks right there in the browser toolbar that sync up with the Todoist iOS and Android apps.

google cast
Google Cast

Google's Chromecast isn't just for entertainment. If you're presenting a slideshow or showing a video to a group of colleagues or customers, it's the easiest way to cast your screen to another device.

So grab the Google Cast extension, which quickly finds any connected Chromecasts on the same wireless network. You won't have to fiddle with wires when you need to dazzle your colleagues.

shortenme
ShortenMe

Sharing links on social media is part of having an active Internet presence. ShortenMe quickly gives you a tweet-friendly link generated by Google's goo.gl service. It also keeps all kinds of cool stats on your links, so you can track how it did when shared across Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks.

ShortenMe additionally transforms your link into a QR code. It's the perfect little tool that cuts down the steps needed to get your stuff out into the world.

pocket
Pocket

Pocket has grown beyond just being a read-it-later service (though it still excels at that).

It's now akin to a digital folder where you can save and share your research articles for work or school. Subscribing to Pocket's premium service gives you additional search functions, organizational features, and a permanent archive for all of your clippings. 

But even if you stick to the free level, Pocket's Chrome extension is worth having in your browser.

lazarus
Lazarus: Form Recovery

Resurrect your forms from the digital beyond with Lazarus. This clever Chrome extension recalls the text you input into any online form or box in the event your browser crashes. 

Chrome tends to be pretty stable, but it's always good to have a backup plan. And I've found Chrome's auto-fill feature can fill the boxes with info that isn't right for that context.

If your tab crashes, Lazarus will reload all the text that was on the page, which can be a huge time saver for filling out an application or online survey. You'll know it's working when the ancient Egyptian symbol appear on the screen. (Lazarus has saved my bacon countless times--Ed.)

pushbullet
Pushbullet

Nothing ties your phone and desktop together quite like Pushbullet.

With the Chrome extension you'll be able to get notifications directed at your phone right in your browser—as long as you download the companion iOS or Android app, of course.

There's also a neat feature that lets you copy text from the desktop and then paste it on your Android device. Pushbullet is always cranking out the new features, making it a must-have to help you leave your phone in your pocket while you're working.