5 Microsoft Edge (and Chrome) extensions everyone should use

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If you’re using Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome without any additional extensions, you’re missing out on key features that your browser doesn’t provide. Browser extensions are almost always free, easy to install, and can really make web browsing fun and productive.

Keep in mind that not all browsers offer the same functionality. Browsers that use Chromium—including Google Chrome and now Microsoft Edge—are essentially interchangeable, and browser extensions that work on one will work on the other. (Unfortunately, Firefox has its own set of incompatible extensions.) Over time, browsers have tended to incorporate popular functionality that used to require an extention—today, for example, you don’t need a separate PDF plugin to open an Adobe Acrobat document. But there are still many tricks that browsers lack natively.

There are literally thousands of browser extensions for you to choose from, via sites like the Chrome Web Store. Many offer specialized, niche functions. I’ve chosen five general-purpose browser extensions that you should definitely consider using, if you don’t already. (Skip to the end if you don’t know how to install a browser plugin or need help installing a Chrome plugin within Edge—yes, you can do that!)

Microsoft Editor

So much of our life is spent online, and most of it consists of sending electronic communication back and forth. While some of you may prefer writing in Microsoft Word and then copying the text into a webpage, Microsoft Editor is there to oversee your writing in Gmail, Outlook.com, and other sites. The plugin supplies free grammar, spelling, and punctuation proofreading for up to three languages at the same time. There are more advanced features, including checks for inclusive language, formality, conciseness, and vocabulary, but they require that you be signed in to a Microsoft account with a Microsoft 365 subscription attached.

Microsoft Editor is available for Microsoft Edge as well as Google Chrome

microsoft editor edge plugin Mark Hachman / IDG

Microsoft Editor.

Honorable Mention: Grammarly (for Edge and Chrome) offers similar options, including a way to check the “tone” of your writing, and also feels slightly more organized. Editor, though, seems more relevant to my day-to-day communication.

BlockSite

I’m a big believer in toggling on and off Microsoft Windows’ Focus Mode, a way in which you can limit the number of Windows pop-in notifications from email, Facebook, and the like. During the pandemic I’d occasionally turn to BlockSite to prevent further distractions. BlockSite for Edge uses the Pomodoro technique—work intensively for 25 minutes or so, then take a break—and actually blocks you from accessing distracting websites during that work period. My personal issue is that social media sites like Twitter can be both a distraction as well as a viable work destination, so I still wrestle with whether to continue using BlockSite. BlockSite also pushes a $10.99 monthly subscription at you, though there’s a free option and cheaper annual plans.

blocksite block page Mark Hachman / IDG

BlockSite’s block page.

Honorable Mention: Forest is only technically available for Chrome, but I like it as well or better than the Edge-native BlockSite. (See below for how to add it to Edge.) Here, your work is a “tree,” and you can “kill” the tree if you click on a website that you’ve blocked. Forest can connect to a mobile app of the same name, where you can grow a virtual forest as a way of measuring your productivity. Personally, I just like the casual way it encourages you to stay on task.



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