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Beautify and Protect Your Virtual Home: Google Chrome Browser

by Miguel Guhlin
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Wish you could wiggle your nose and clean up any mess you’ve made? With these Chrome add-ons, you can come close! Not only can you make it easy and simple to disable or remove add-ons, you can also use them to enhance how you work with images. Here are some Google Chrome add-ons and extensions that can make your life easier, as well as enhance your privacy!

Clean It Up

Two fantastic Google Chrome add-ons that you might want to consider include the following:

  • SimpleExtManager: A simple menu to enable, disable, and access extension options
  • Extensity: Quickly enable/disable Google Chrome extensions

These add-on managers not only allow you to disable or remove add-ons you may get while exploring; they may also work conditionally, meaning they work differently depending on the website you happen to be on.

Beautify Your Virtual Space

Find yourself wondering why you can’t live in a big mansion at the top of a mountain with a splendid view? Or what about a desert oasis outside your window? If you are, take advantage of these image add-ons that can enhance how you interact with images via Chrome.

  • Unsplash Instant: Every time you open a new tab, you will see a beautiful “high-resolution Unsplash photo that you can save and/or use as you like.
  • Hover Zoom: Enlarge image thumbnails on mouse over while surfing the web. Works on many sites, including Google Image Search, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Reddit, Amazon, Tumblr and others. An alternative is Imagus.
  • TinEye Reverse Image Search: Find out where an image came from, how it’s used, or find resolution versions. This is a great one for projects where you or your students forget just exactly what the source for a internet-garnered image is.
  • Pixabay Image Search: Hoping to find great pics that are copyright friendly? Pixabay Image Search will take you straight to available images.
  • Image Downloader: Allows you to get and save all the images on a web page with many options.
  • Images On/Off: This allows you to turn images on or off when visiting a web page, which can be handy.
  • Save to Google Drive: Save web content or screen capture directly to Google Drive.

Whether you need to find copyright-friendly images, save them, or prevent them from appearing, these tools will see you through.

Protect Your Privacy

No conversation of your virtual home, Google Chrome browser, would be complete without a discussion of privacy! Consider taking advantage of these three add-ons to enhance your privacy while online.

  • AdBlock Plus: Blocks ads and supports websites by not blocking unobtrusive ads by default (configurable).
  • Disconnect: Disconnect lets you visualize and block the invisible websites that track you. Stop tracking by thousands of third-party sites.
  • HTTPS Everywhere: HTTPS Everywhere is an extension created by EFF and the Tor Project which automatically switches thousands of sites from insecure “http” to secure “https.” It will protect you against many forms of surveillance and account hijacking and some forms of censorship.

Finally, consider getting a virtual private network (VPN) service. One service I have used in my Chrome browser that is available at no cost, although I do prefer Private Internet Access (PIA), is DotVPN. A VPN service creates an encrypted conduit for your information, including usernames and passwords. This prevents nearby strangers from “sniffing” your private information via the public, guest WiFi you happen to be sharing with them. If you are on an Android or iOS device, consider getting the free Windscribe VPN.

Take advantage of these Google Chrome add-ons to beautify your virtual space, maximize the time you spend on more worthwhile projects, and protect yourself online.

Update: This blog entry was updated with fresh links for the VPN on 4/23/2018.

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