My Favorite Browser Extensions

Written by: Tom Hilton. Posted: July 20, 2020. 


Here is the list of my personal "Favorite Browser Extensions".


I find having the right "Browser Extensions" installed on my browser makes a huge different to how easily I can surf the web, and avoid popups and paywalls, and find what I want to read easily and quickly.


This continues the article "Surf the Web Like a Pro", in which you can read more — including why you want extensions, and what they are, and is part of the series "An Internet Enabled Life".



What Are Browser Extensions Anyway?

Browser extensions are handy apps that either do stuff in the background or when you tell them to.

Extensions are usually active all the time, but some are activated by clicking the correct extension button in the upper righthand corner of the Chrome browser.

Some have options. They can be temporarily toggled using the “Browser settings.” Select “More Tools,” then click on “Extensions” to see all the installed extensions installed so far (if any) and which are turned on or off.


Browser extensions in use

Here is a snapshot of  my browser extensions.



The Browser Extensions I Like

Many of the browser extensions below can be found in the Chrome webstore. For others you will need to click the hyperlink for that particular extension (see "Find These Extensions" at the bottom of the page).

Below are extensions I use all the time to make browsing and accessing paywalled sites easier.  Sometimes it is like using a machete’ in the jungle.  Often I have to start with a click on BehindTheOverlay just to get based the please for signing up or whatever.  Once in, I still might be lambasted by popup adds and that is where PopUpOff helps cut that out.  Nevertheless, freebie readers often have to peek through a jungle of side bars, bottom bars, top bars, etc. placed there to annoy you into subscribing.  I chop them off using ClickToRemoveElement [remember to hit escape to shit it off when done or risk having to start over by accidentally chopping off all the text.]  Then if it is something you want to keep, PrintFriendlypdf enables me to shrink or delete images, delete advertisements and links of no interest, and turn the page into a readable pdf document.



Popup BlockerPopupBlockerForChrome is a handy tool you may rarely click unless you want it to NOT block popups. Why would you NOT want to block popups? Unfortunately, many websites are using popups as part of a login routine – especially those using multifactor credentials that email you or message your smartphone with a validation code number.  To disable the blocker, right-click the extension icon shown here, and tell it not to block popups on this site.  I have removed it because so many sites I log into are either freezing the window, or not prompting for texted credentials.  Usefulness hinges on your personal visit sites.



Printfriendly extensionPrintFriendly&pdf is a tool I use 20 times a day.  It will let you convert 95% of web pages into PDFs you can download and file.  Its strength is that you can capture an entire article, and, it ignores most of the advertising and overhead clutter used to annoy you into subscribing.  First, a large popup window opens to enable you to go into the draft pdf and delete any clutter the program missed (often links to other stories).  Just hover over the picture or text or hyperlinks, the background will turn yellow showing what will be cut, and then left mouse click, and it disappears.  Make a mistake, just delete the popup window and start over.  When you finish editing, click the pdf button at the top of the popup window and it will download the file into your default pdf reader.  You can then highlight, underline, etc. the pdf version and save it to an archive folder.



Behind the overlayBehindtheOverlay by NicolaeNVM. I used this extension on almost every website because almost every website now uses overlays.  Sometimes you must experiment as the window might freeze.  When that happens I delete cookies.  Or I go to “Aggressive” mode on “PopupOff.”

There are competitors with the same name which I have not checked out.  The Nicolae NVM extension is the one I use all day.   One click removes those annoying popups that overlay 80% of the page usually demanding a subscription.  It works about 85% of the time.  If not, you get a message from Chrome that no overlay was found.  In the latter case, find another hack or pay up.  HINT: If you successfully remove the overlay but the page will not scroll, click the page refresh icon on your browser.  If the overlay does not reappear, see if it scrolls – that works 60% of the time.  



GrammarlyGrammarly is an extension that works in the background and highlights all your typos and misspellings. It also highlights missing or superfluous commas and periods. It works on any website you have open – including Gmail. You can also get it to work on MS Word. It is free, but there is a premium version for money. This is another extension I no longer use because so much of the latest version of Chrome and Explorer have similar capability built into them now.



Clicktoremove elementClicktoRemoveElement is a powerful HTML editor that works like a jungle machete so you can hack away all the clutter that is interfering with your reading progress. Some sites put headers and footers that descend or arise every time you scroll or just fill half the screen mainly to annoy you so you will pay to subscribe.  It is rather intuitive to use.  As your cursor crosses an element, it is highlighted in red – left mouse-click and it is gone.    I use it 20 times a day – sometimes just to reduce the clutter to facilitate reading.  If you accidently cut to much – reload the page and start over.  Turn off the options box using the Escape key or click the extension icon or even the red X in upper right-hand corner of the box.



Kaspersky extensionIf you subscribe to Kaspersky Internet Protection, you can activate this extension from within your default browser.

Go to their website to learn how. It is always turned on. The button is just to remove it if you need to. It is not on my extension toolbar because I did not pin it there.  That is because I rarely turn it off.



HoneyHoney is an extension that when you are on shopping pages like Amazon, or Google shopping, it will tell you if another site has a cheaper price.

Often Amazon has more than one listing. It only activates on shopping pages. It is not pinned to my toolbar as I rarely turn it off.  



ByPass PaywallsBypassPaywalls is the ultimate hacker tool that allows you to break into lots of paywalled sites like the Wall Street Journal or New York Times which will normally show you only a few sentences free but to read the rest of the article, send them $480/year. If you are like me, I might read 30 WSJ articles a year – that is 16 bucks a read, and half of those articles might be useless.

Installation is a bit trickier than other extensions because during installation a popup will request that you switch to “Developer Mode” — the slider switch in the upper righthand corner of the extensions page. Once installed you can switch the mode off again.

This extension fools the site into thinking you are a paying customer. It also claims to repel cookies used to keep track of free introductory reads. Go to their website to see all the sites they claim to crack.

Sometimes, if a site blocks me, I delete their cookies (warning there might be 2 or 3 using different acronyms). Re-read the segment on how to delete cookies in "Surf the Web Like a Pro" (click on the green button below). Sometimes none of those tactics work.  When that happens, a last ditch effort is to copy the URL, open a "new incognito page" and paste it in the search field.  It sometimes works because the "incognito" mode bars access to cookies, and the site might have planted a cookie you missed. [Note: most extensions will disappear when incognito.]


Change Geolocation

Change Geolocation Change Geolocation is a handy extension if you travel a lot or have a second home overseas as we do.  By spoofing the web that you are not where you service provider says you are; a) you can relocate to say LA, and all the news will be local for LA, and b) if your financial institutions bar logins from certain foreign countries, you can make them think, as I do, that you are in London or Amsterdam, and they let me log in.  To use this extension you have to manually enter a latitude and longitude for up to several different major cities.  You can get information by searching for it or by clicking here. In Europe, London or Frankfurt work well for me.


Facebook Purity

Facebook Purity Facebook Purity will transform your Facebook experience by eliminating the tons of crap Zuckerberg clutters up your page with.  It is very powerful and will require reading their website to maximize its utility.  Once set up for your tastes, you forget about it.  There is an FBP logo on the top left of the Facebook toolbar.  Click the FBP icon to open a myriad of options to tailor your Facebook surfing so you can eliminate (or access) stuff on the pages.


Smart Mute

Smart Mute Smart Mute is an extension I recently added because a few sites I visit blast me with audio and  video that is very distracting while I read.  The Hill is a great example.  You have to shut them up manually each story.  With Smart Mute, I just tell it to blacklist the domain and now, silence. You can switch it off if there is audio/video that you want to hear on that site - just click the icon on your extension toolbar, and turn off "Enable Smart Mute".



PopUpOffPopUpOFF  is a handy behind-the-scenes adjunct to PopUpBlocker for Chrome.  It defeats some overlays automatically and defeats code inserted by some sites that are meant to undermine extension hacks.  It is usually dormant, but sometimes you need to sort of bang on the door for access by increasing the app.  Normally, you must reload the page to see if it worked.


RefreshHINT: If you successfully remove the overlay but the window will not scroll, click the page refresh icon on your browser to reload it. If BypassPayWall works but the window will not scroll or the page is darkened, also try clicking the page refresh icon on your browser to reload it. That works 75% of the time to open the page for reading.


Pin/UnPin Extension Icons

Chrome extensionsPins are extension icons that allow you to toggle each extension on your extension toolbar on/off.  

After you install your first extension, close and restart your browser.  It should show the new extension’s icon and a puzzle piece icon (see snapshot below) which when clicked creates a dropdown menu listing your activated extensions.  Click a white pin icon next each extension you want to see on the browser toolbar.  The white pin will turn blue and the extension icon buttone will pop up on the menu until you un-pin it using the same puzzle piece button. 





Find These Extensions

When you enter a search term be sure to click the “More Extensions” button in the upper right-hand corner of the results or it will only show a few options.

[Note: installation instructions are listed about quarterway down the page starting with the link to the GitHub files needed – it seems complex, but you a) download the zip file, b) unzip the files into a subdirectory where you keep downloaded programs [you will need to find the unzipped files in a minute], c) type chrome://extensions into the Chrome address bar field, d) click the “enable developer mode” switch in the upper right of the page that opens, e) go to the folder you unzipped, find the “bypass-paywalls-chrome-master” folder and drag it over to the Chrome extensions page you have open.  Ta-da!  Success (I hope).

[Note: installation instructions are listed about midway down the page starting with the link to the GitHub files needed – it seems complex, but you a) download the zip file, b) unzip the files into a subdirectory where you keep downloaded programs [you will need to find the unzipped files in a minute], c) type chrome://extensions into the Chrome address bar field, d) click the “enable developer mode” switch in the upper right of the page that opens, e) go to the folder you unzipped, find the “dist” subfolder and drag it over to the Chrome extensions page you have open.  Ta-da!  Success (I hope).



Return to "Surf the Web Like a Pro"



View the Series


An Internet Enabled Life

Having used technology all my working life, and now being retired, I notice that many of my peers are missing out on some of the benefits that come with appropriate use of the latest technology.

In this first of a series of articles, I start by just describing my Internet-enabled life. In other parts of the series, we offer essays describing a myriad of ways the Internet can enrich your day. I want to get you “hooked” to the Internet.



Reader Comments: "My Favorite Browser Extensions"


from faengelm (member) at July 23, 2020

very good info... thanks


from Susan Freyberg (unverified) at July 25, 2020

I am very lo tech so I have to keep rereading to really understand. Thanks so much for the info -it is a wonderful gift!


from Tom Hilton (unverified) at July 26, 2020

You're welcome. Hang in there. It will be worth it once you get it all set up. Warning, you will be far more current on world affairs than your friends.


from E Benson [email protected] (unverified) at November 30, 2020

An awesome collection of priceless information.

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