Writers are a fiercely independent bunch and many are loyalists to their own systems for writing. The continuing evolution of advanced browsers like Google Chrome and its ecosystem of extensions has opened a new world of possibility for many willful wordsmiths, increasing efficiency, boosting productivity, and winning converts from traditional desktop writing applications.
Utilizing a few essential Chrome extensions, you can transform Google’s Chrome from an austere web browser into a lush writer’s paradise and a powerhouse for producing written content.
Evernote Web Clipper
Every writer takes notes and ideas might arrive at any time. You’ll want to save a few of those brainstorms for later.
Now nearly synonymous with note-taking, Evernote offers a handy chrome extension that allows you to clip an article, a simplified article which removes ads and extra formatting, or a full page from the web. You can also clip a bookmark, a screenshot, or save PDFs to your Evernote account. Evernote apps are available for Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS, so you can take notes and manage your clips wherever you are.
Install Evernote Web Clipper
Save your notes, highlighted text, or web page URLs to Google Keep by clicking the Keep extension icon or using the right-click context menu.
The Google Keep extension, while offering fewer ways to save notes and clips than Evernote, is not limited in some of the ways Evernote’s free account functionality is hampered. Google Keep does not limit data usage. Evernote’s free account limits data transfer to 60 MB per month and limits app synchronization to two devices. We can’t have everything for free.
You can access your notes via the web with both Google Keep and Evernote on an unlimited number of devices.
Google Keep functions as a Chrome app, an IOS app, or an Android app without data limits on synchronization between devices. Many writers may find Google Keep meets their demands well and they can work productively without extra features offered by Evernote.
Install Google Keep
When you’re researching facts to anchor your literary masterpiece, you might discover that the web has become a clutter of advertisements, call to action boxes, fiddly social-sharing widgets, and pop-up whiz-bang gimmickry, all of which conspire to distract you from the simple text you need to read. The Just Read extension removes all this extraneous matter and digital muck with the click of a button, providing clean copy which is easily scanned and digested.
Finally, you can just read. Important formatting such as headers and bullet lists are preserved, but other buzzing clutter is now the next visitor’s problem, not yours.
Install Just Read
The Spreed Chrome extension adds speed reading ability to your writing research superpowers. The extension sits idle until needed and can be called into service by a hotkey combination. Once active, the text of the body is presented in pleasantly large fonts one or two words at a time. By flashing these words on the screen rapidly, the Spreed Chrome extension will have you speed reading at 400 words per minute in a flash.
For the more industrious, you can set the speed for Spreed higher. Speeds higher than 600 words per minute may be counterproductive, but each reader is different and you might be comfortable with higher speed reading settings.
Spreed is handy when you’ve already done much of your research and want some counterpoints or if you need to decide whether a resource is worth the time investment to read slowly and/or reference in your writing.
An essential part of writing is the proofreading and editing phase. The Read Aloud Chrome Extension reads your written creations out loud to you in a synthesized voice of your choosing.
This writer has chosen the voice of a lovely lady named Joanna.
The Read Aloud extension displays the text it is reading in a pop-up box so you can follow along visually. The combination of visual and audio proofreading allows you to catch simple mistakes you might have missed if only using one of these methods. Free for use, the Read Aloud extension features a simple interface with pause, stop, and resume buttons. Unlike some similar extensions, the Read Aloud extension automatically detects the body of the web page with no need for you to select the text you wish to have the extension read aloud.
Install Read Aloud
Checker Plus for Gmail
Checker Plus for Gmail, while not strictly a writing tool, still provides useful functionality for writers and supports multiple Gmail accounts. Writers get email, and if they don’t respond to some particular emails in a timely manner, clients or editors can get grumpy.
The Checker Plus for Gmail extension displays a notification in the corner of your screen upon the arrival of new mail. You can easily scan the subject and sender to decide whether you need to stop working to reply now or can safely ignore the email until later.
If you only use Gmail, or if you use Gmail to import mail from your other POP3 accounts, you’ll enjoy the extra functionality Checker Plus provides over similar extensions. The extension allows you to pop out a new tab that contains your unread emails from all your Gmail accounts. From here, you can read, delete, archive, or reply as needed without opening your separate Gmail accounts. You might never need a dedicated email client again.
Install Checker Plus for Gmail
Google’s Calendar extension allows you to quickly add events to your Google Calendar by clicking on the icon and the extension adds an entry to the right-click context menu in Chrome from which you can create new events.
Highlighting text on a web page lets you send the selected text as the title of an event in your Google calendar. You can then set a due date and reminders as required.
The Google Calendar extension does not support voice recognition. However, it does convert times and dates typed in plain English to the appropriate time and date settings for the event. Google Calendar is a free and effective way to view or manage simple projects and offers customizable reminders for deadlines.
Install Google Calendar
Google Drive Quick Create
Speed is good. The Google Drive Quick Create extension provides a faster way to start a new Google Document when inspiration strikes. Start a new Document, Spreadsheet, Form, Presentation, or Drawing at the click of a button, saving several steps and clicks otherwise required to start a new Google Document.
Install Google Drive Quick Create
Grammarly provides a Chrome extension that brings the popular grammar checker’s goodness to text boxes across the web. Never leave behind an embarrassing grammar mistake again. While useful as tools, extensions that watch every character typed, such as Grammarly, can slow your web experience to a digital crawl.
As an alternative, you can copy/paste your written extravaganza into Grammarly’s web app when you need to check your work rather than have the Grammarly extension monitor every keystroke to make corrections on the fly.
ProWritingAid also offers a grammar checking Chrome extension. In this writer’s experience, both extensions can cause unexpected behavior and unwanted formatting on many websites. Some writers swear by these grammar-checking extensions. Others swear at them. Due to their popularity and utility, both grammar extensions are included in this Chrome extension for Writers roundup.
Many writers now utilize the Pomodoro Technique to increase writing efficiency and preserve their remaining sanity. The Pomodoro strategy is elegant in its simplicity. You work for 25 minutes and then you take a break for 5 minutes. In a normal work environment, this looks like you’re goofing off. With Pomodoro, you’re actually increasing your efficiency while only appearing to be goofing off. The work/break cycle repeats until you call it quits. Adjust the work and break duration to suit your needs.
Working too long without a break can affect negatively affect your productivity and turn writing’s joy into dismal drudgery. Taking too many breaks or taking breaks for too long obviously affects your ability to get your work done. The Marinara Chrome extension gives gentle discipline to your writing time, alerting you to break times and reminding you when it’s time to get back to work. The Marinara Pomodoro extension offers a pause feature as well, which is useful because interruptions happen.
TickTick, Any.do, Todoist, & Wunderlist Todo App Extensions
There’s no shortage of task list applications and many offer associated Chrome extensions. Among the more popular To Do List Chrome extensions are TickTick, Any.do, Todoist, and Wunderlist. Each of these To Do List platforms offer free and paid subscription levels. You may find that the free features don’t meet your needs completely. You might also favor one solution over another, which is why several options are listed in this guide to essential Chrome extensions for writers.
The truly frugal among us can often find ways to extract similar functionality from Google Calendar and Google Tasks without paying a monthly subscription fee to any of the To Do List guys.
Get Opened Tabs URLs
When researching, you may need to reference multiple external web pages. The Get Opened Tabs URLs extension quickly lists the URLs for your open tabs allowing you to copy/paste or easily add links within your written copy as needed.
The Typewriter Sounds Chrome extension does exactly what its name implies. While typing, your keystrokes are accompanied by typewriter sounds clicking on each keystroke and dinging with each carriage return.
Additionally, the Typewriter Sounds extension can counteract distracting outside noise when writing and can make you feel more productive as the extension provides a click-clicking reminder that progress is being made on your masterpiece.
Combining the immersive Zen of writing with the playful yet hard-charging sounds of a locomotive speeding toward a finished project, the Typewriter Sounds Chrome extension reminds us that writing is supposed to be a fun vocation.
With all your new Chrome extensions colorfully decorating your Chrome toolbar, you may wish there was an extension to tame your extensions. The Extensity Chrome extension does exactly that, allowing you to easily enable or disable Chrome extensions as needed. As clever feature, you can even set profiles and assign your extensions to your profiles. Switching profiles loads only the Chrome extensions you’ve assigned to that profile. Now, that’s an efficiency gain.