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How to turn Chrome into gold

10 extensions that will improve your Chrome OS user experience

By Howard Wen, Network World
February 25, 2011 01:59 PM ET

Network World - Though Google is pitching it as an operating system for netbooks and lightweight notebooks, Chrome OS is essentially the Chrome Web browser bolted on top of a bare minimum version of Linux. The following extensions can improve the user experience of Chrome (OS or browser) to give you some of the functionality found in a traditional operating system.

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1. Quickrr Calendar

Chrome OS lists the time on the upper-right corner of the screen, but clicking it only shows you the present date (and the option to open the time zone setting). What's missing here, and found in most OSs, is a basic calendar. Quirkrr Calendar rectifies this. When you click its icon, a big calendar of the current month opens. You can flip through the following and previous months, type in reminders in the date boxes to remind yourself of things you need to do that day, and sort through these days and activities by week or day (which further breaks down your to-do's by hour).

2. Elegant Calculator

There are several calculator extensions for Chrome, but we like Elegant Calculator because it looks, well, elegant, as a virtual representation of a real number cruncher. Enter numbers and functions either by clicking this calculator's buttons or typing with the keyboard. You can switch between "Basic" and "Advanced" versions -- the latter includes 20 more functions for common trigonometric and scientific calculations.

3. Panelize

The Panelize extension will turn any tab into its own panel, which you can then drag around and reposition wherever you want on the screen. A panel is simply a browser window minus tool bars or the other usual user elements of a Web browser. This extension is handy if you want to turn a Web app, such as a Web-based painting app, into an ersatz, self-standing application separate from the browser portion of Chrome.

4. Split screen

The Frame Two Pages extension works this way: when you click its icon, it takes the contents of the tab you are currently looking at and the one you viewed before, and re-loads both inside a third tab, setting each within its own frame in a vertical split-screen. You can adjust the width of the two frames by clicking on and dragging side-to-side the vertical line separating the two.

We really like this extension, especially when used on ultra-wide screens. As an example, within one frame you can use a Web app (like writing on Google docs) while continuing to browse the Web in the other frame to look up information without switching to and from another tab.

5. Tab organizer

Too Many Tabs neatly shows you thumbs of all your actively running tabs, and lists recently closed tabs. You can jump to any tab by clicking on it. As its name implies, Too Many Tabs was designed to help you navigate through your tabs when you have so many of them opened that the width of their name tags has shrunk to where you cannot read them.

6. AppJump App Launcher and Organizer

By default, the icons for apps installed on Chrome are laid out in a blank tab. So you have to open a new tab whenever you want to access an app. There are a couple of extensions that make getting to your apps more convenient in different ways, and having more than one of them installed doesn't usually conflict with the other.

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