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Some time ago, we published a list of The 16 Most Essential Firefox 3.5 Add-ons . It was quite a comprehensive list, covering a pretty wide swath of popular and lesser-known add-ons in a courageous attempt to outfit your Firefox with all the additional functionality it otherwise lacks. Of course, it's difficult to really boil down the perfect Firefox experience into only 16 little extensions. I'm sure you could easily come up with 20 or 30 add-ons for the ultimate browser build.
But what about our long-forgotten friend, poor Google Chrome? Google just opened the floodgates to its own extension gallery the other day and, naturally, the first thing running through my mind is the question that's likely running through everybody's minds: How does it stack up? Well, no sense in waxing poetic about it. Let's find out. Just how easily can you replicate the ideal Firefox experience using Google add-ons, and in what ways is the browser--or, rather, the third-party add-on developers--lacking versus Firefox? We'll use our "16 essential add-ons" list as a guide.
Firefox: "With All-in-One Sidebar, you have instant access to Firefox’s entire inventory of Downloads, Add-ons, History and Bookmarks with one simple left-click."
Chrome: Brrrzzzzt. There is currently no extension that replicates this feature in Chrome. Loading new options, download windows, and browser history all happens through Chrome's "Customize and Control" button, which launches each selected item into a new tab or pop-up window.
Firefox: "Simply select text and drag it anywhere in your browser window: either to the search bar, to the middle of the page as a link, or if it’s an image, drag it to the middle of the browser window to save it on your desktop."
Chrome: Ding ding ding. Replicate this time-saving functionality for browsing by using the Google Chrome extension Drag N Go . You don't quite get to do as much as you can with QuickDrag, but you can nevertheless perform searches for dragged words or phrases that can be customized, by gesture, to search on different sites.
Firefox: "Simply right-click to open a link, select Open this link in IE tab, and Firefox displays a new tab for you in “IE mode.”
Chrome: Rock it. Grab the IE Tab extension to pull up a page using your favorite rendering engine, Internet Explorer, inside of Google Chrome.
Firefox: "Sometimes, our browsers and computers can become overloaded, and can instantaneously shut down while we’re in the process of filling out yet another tedious Internet form (ie. while blogging). Thankfully, Lazarus lives true to its name and resurrects our lost text."
Chrome: Is there a Lazarus extension for Chrome? Why yes there is ! It features the same awesome functionality that will likely save my butt at least once while writing this very post.
Firefox: "It does all the dirty work by downloading video content from the web and storing it as a flash file (.FLV)."
Chrome: Nope. You won't be doing any .FLV downloading in Google Chrome for now. At least, not via an extension--you'll have to try the bookmarklet route !
Firefox: "LastPass Password Manager stores your passwords and makes it so that you only have to use one code word to access the rest."
Chrome: Indeed, there is also a LastPass extension for Chrome, mimicking the same functionality you'd otherwise find in the Firefox version. Use this extension to add additional security to your own personal passwords and, as noted, access all of your trusted sites with but one master key!
Firefox: "Thankfully, Shareaholic facilitates this with an add-on that allows you to right-click on a link, video, or image, and distribute it among your Internet brood on a variety of sites, including Twitter, Facebook, and Digg."
Chrome : A Google Chrome version of Shareaholic, you ask? You betcha . With but a few mouse clicks, you're inches away from sending all your friends on all sorts of social platforms a link to that hilarious cat picture you just found.
Firefox: "Locator on Google Maps introduces a quick fix solution for these types of dilemmas: simply right-click on the highlighted address and Google maps will pop up in a new menu with a pin on your desired location."
Chrome: For near-identical functionality, check out the Select to Get Maps extension, which allows you to select an address on a Web page and show it on Google Maps--as the name of said extension implies. You can also try using Mini Google Maps , which sticks Google Maps itself overtop your current tab with the simple click of a button on your toolbar.
Firefox: "Firegestures ensures that with a few clicks and gestures of the mouse, you’ll be able to effortlessly execute various commands and user scripts with five types of gestures, instead of having to put down your sauce-laden burger."
Chrome: Where to begin? Don't put down that burger just yet, because a host of different extensions build gesture support into Google Chrome, including: Chrome Gestures , nkGestures , Rocker Gestures , and Mouse Stroke , to name a few.
Firefox: "HideTab’s discrete paranoia button quickly hides all tabs in your Firefox browser window, making it easy for you to surf incognito, without the suspicions of your fellow desk mates"
Chrome: Sorry, fans-of-the- nsfw -content. There's no Chrome extension that will automatically hide your less-than-savory browsing activity from view of those who care about you. The closest you'll get to concealing your love of lolcats on company time is the Close Tabs to Left extension which, as its name suggests, will close all the tabs to the left of your currently open tab with but one click of your mouse. It's not quite a cloaking device for your browsing so much as it is a nuclear bomb.
Firefox: "For the avid music listener who can’t be bothered to switch between screens, Foxy Tunes adds a nifty remote control for your media player at the bottom of the browser window. It handles controls for Winamp, Last.fm, Pandora, Windows Media Player, Xbox Media Player, and a variety of other services."
Chrome: Unfortunately, the closest you're going to get to this hybrid of a Windows Media Player and an Internet browser is Google Chrome's Chrome.fm extension. And even then, this extension is hardly as good or as comprehensive as its Foxy Tunes alternative. If you don't mind educating thyself instead of rocking out, you could also try the NPR extension ?
Firefox: "Fortunately, Firefox Showcase has developed an Add-on that displays the tabs in the main browser window. Press Ctrl + Alt + T to “showcase” the tabs individually and take your pick based on a quick glance of a screenshot."
Chrome: Ahh yes, the ol' "I want to see all of my tabs at once" extension. TooMyTabs for Chrome is the closest you're going to get to this functionality--it pops up all of your tabs in little preview windows which you can scan through and select based on the content you're looking at as opposed to a teeny-tiny title on the top of your tab-filled browser.
Firefox: "ColorfulTabs shades your tabs based on the color scheme of the webpage you are viewing."
Chrome: Cool add-on, eh? So cool, in fact, that you're not going to find an alternative for Google Chrome. The closest you'll get is the admittedly lame Change colors extension, which allows you to make alterations to a Web page (or all Web pages) based on a color palette you define.
Firefox: "The New Tab King displays your recently closed tabs, personalized suggested sites, most frequented web addresses and includes shortcuts to your desktop applications."
Chrome: To be fair, this functionality is kind of already built into Google Chrome when you load a new tab, so...
Firefox: This add-on does the service of storing user content, like bookmarks and passwords, in the cloud for safekeeping.
Chrome: As luck would have it, XMarks exists (in a beta form) for Chrome as well. Thank goodness, too--this is one of my most prized Firefox extensions, easily the first thing I install on any new edition of the browser. Syncing bookmarks across multiple computers is extremely useful if not downright necessary .
Firefox: "This application simply adds a full screen option to the context menu for HTML5 videos, but is integral for video services that don’t offer the option."
Chrome: Well, you can currently convert Flash videos into HTML5 content, but the Chrome add-ons that do so don't incorporate a full-screen video option. Bummer.
So what's the final tally for compatibility then? Just using Maximum PC's 16-top-add-ons as an example, Google Chrome--out of the gate--supports 10 out of 16 add-on features outright. That's not too shabby for a fresh launch of Google's extension gallery. Check back next week for a look at the essential, big-name Google Chrome extensions that you shouldn't live without. And who knows--by then, maybe the count will be up to 14 out of 16 supported features... let's go, developers!
David Murphy (@ Acererak) is a technology journalist and former Maximum PC editor. He writes weekly columns about the wide world of open-source as well as weekly roundups of awesome, freebie software. Befriend him on Twitter, especially if you have an awesome app or game you're dying to recommend!
Remember Topify, the little Web App of the Week I mentioned a bit ago? In short, it's a way to better control Twitter follower requests through your email account--in fact, you can use it to perform all your following and "checking to see if this person is lame or not" activity straight out of your inbox.
Anyway, I have some extra invite codes to this closed-door service that I'd love to share with you. If you want one, scroll your eyes up to my Twitter handle. Friend me and shoot me an @message, and I'll DM you an invite! I will keep this up until I run out and, when that happens, I'll post a note on my own account.