Oddly enough, despite major advancements in technology, working in 2013 is an awful lot like working in 1963. We still get on our terminals—only now our terminals are portable (with retina displays)—and log in to the mainframe, which we now call "the cloud."
And as much as people used to be tethered to their terminals, now it's their browsers they've come to rely on to get the job done. That's because almost everything about our computer that isn't our browser is becoming increasingly extraneous.
There are dozens of bells and whistles you can add to your browser that can help you do many of your most frequently repeated tasks just a little quicker. Add up all the seconds saved over the course of a day, and you'll find you've got just a little more time to devote to the more critical task of running your business.
Although I've used these nifty extensions on Google Chrome, most of these eight tools are available for other browsers as well.
1. OneTab. Ever find yourself with a zillion tabs open? Just one click of OneTab will suck all those tabs into a single, simple page of links. You can then save browser cycles, and focus on the bigger picture. This one's free, but it's only available for Google Chrome.
2. Instapaper. Half of those zillion open tabs are probably articles you mean to read. The Instapaper plug-in ($2.99 to $3.99, depending on your OS) adds a button to your browser's address bar that will automatically feed any article or page to your Instapaper account, so you can read it when you have more time.
3. Evernote Web Clipper. Probably a bunch of those zillion open tabs are actually articles you've read but want to save for some reason—maybe there's a fact in there you want to include in a later presentation. Evernote's Web Clipper (free) lets you not just bookmark a Web page but send the full text or just the highlighted section to your Evernote account—where the full text is searchable. That's a time-saver when you're looking for that factoid a month from now and can't quite remember where you read it. The latest version will also take a screen shot and quickly mark it up.
4. Window Resizer. This extension might seem like something for developers, but it's not, although it's a nice way to be able to quickly look at your site in different standard window sizes. Window Resizer (free) also lets you set up custom resolutions for any number of programs. For example, you can set up a custom size for word processing, so when you work on a Google Doc, you can quickly switch to a view that feels a lot more appropriate to a document.
5. 1Password. Are you using a password keeper? You should be, and 1Password ($49.99) has an especially good browser plug-in. Not only will it automatically log you in to most websites at the click of a button, it will also save passwords as you go, help you generate secure passwords and search your passwords to find the one you need. It will also keep track of addresses and credit card numbers and autofill them. Your browser can do some of this, but a stand-alone app like this one will work in different browsers and across platforms, and will hold any other passwords you'd like to store as well.
6. Google Hangouts. If you use Google Mail to chat, this plug-in conveniently pulls your new Google chat out of the mail tab and makes it accessible in any part of your browser and on your desktop. Maybe that's too much togetherness for you, but I like being able to use Google Hangouts (free) to quickly jump into chat wherever I am.
7. Buffer. I have sung the praises of Buffer before because it's just that amazing. The Buffer service (free to $10/month) lets you queue up tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates and more so you can add a bunch in a batch. Then the app will mete them out at predetermined intervals. The Buffer plug-in lets you run all this organizing seamlessly from your browser. Plus, it adds the Buffer button to standard social sharing windows such as Twitter's tweet box.
8. Send from Gmail. When I switched from Apple Mail to Gmail, the one feature I missed was the ability to drag a url straight to the mail application to send a link to someone. It was just one of those tiny efficiencies that makes a routine task a tiny bit simpler and less of a speed bump. The "Send from Gmail" app (free) solves this issue. One click of the browser button, and you've got a "compose mail" window with the link pre-filled. Just address and go!
While none of the above is going to change your world, I find that the less I have to fuss around with the little stuff, the more I can pay attention to what really matters.
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