Google Chrome is a tremendously popular Web browser. Research by Web analytics firm Netmarketshare in June showed it has a global market share of 48.65%, with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Edge, Mozilla’s Firefox, Opera and Vivaldi fighting for the rest of the pie.

But Google Chrome is much more than just a Web-browsing app. It has its own app store, called the Chrome Web Store, from where you can download apps and extensions that can be bolted on to the Chrome browser on your PC or Mac computer, adding functionality to the browser. For most tasks and purposes, the Chrome ecosystem, with its add-ons, can be a wholesome computing environment in itself. But if you want an even better browsing experience, try these free apps and extensions.

Google Docs

Google Docs is pretty much the ultimate app for any professional, since it is a capable alternative to the Microsoft Office suite. The Google Docs suite allows you to edit, view and create new documents, spreadsheets and presentations from within the Web browser. You can open any file created in the Office suite and edit it here. The fact that Google has integrated the Drive cloud storage makes this even more productive.

Gmail Offline

It might be one of the most popular email services, but one of the headaches of Gmail is that when you are accessing it through a browser, it is mainly a Web service—you need to be connected to the Internet to access your mailbox and get new mails. And that is exactly the problem that this extension tries to overcome. It synchronizes with your Gmail account when you first use it and, thereafter, works just like an offline client within your browser. Though it will download and send new mails when you go online again, what it will let you do is search through your mails and read them even when you are not connected to the Internet. The extension is still in the beta-testing phase, but it’s worth a try.

Kindle Cloud Reader

The jury may still be out on the popularity of e-books, but one cannot deny the sheer convenience that they provide—allowing people to read books without having to carry them around physically. And if you add Kindle’s Cloud Reader to your Chrome browser, you will be able to access your library and read any book from your e-book collection right within the browser. The feature set allows you to tweak fonts, make notes, insert bookmarks and check the meanings of words from a dictionary, just as you can on a regular Kindle e-book reader.

Momentum

Opening a new tab in a browser can be a relatively routine experience. Momentum ensures that it isn’t. When you click on a new tab, what you get is a colourful background image, a weather update, an inspiring quote, links to your favourite websites, and your to-do list for the day. Definitely a step up from the default blank “new tab" that you see on Web browsers.

Hover Zoom+

This is the perfect addition for those who find themselves squinting at the thumbnail-sized images on some websites. This app allows you to see an enlarged version of the image (you can specify how much in the settings) whenever you hover your mouse over it. It’s a great option for social networking and e-shopping addicts who hate to click on images and wait for their enlarged versions to load.

MightyText

Pretty much a must-have app/extension if you use an Android phone as well, MightyText allows you to send and receive text and multimedia messages from your Chrome browser instead of your phone. You can see your Android app notifications, sync the photographs on your phone, even get alerts when your phone is running low on battery. This is pretty much the app for those who do not want to be distracted every time the phone rings.

Noisli

Noisli ensures that you have just the right ambient noises to help you get along with your work, whether it is the sound of birds trilling in the forest or the sound of raindrops. All you need to do is tap an icon for peace to descend. You can even create your own blend of sounds.

Gestures for Google Chrome

If you would like to add gesture support to your browser, just download this handy little app, specify the gestures you would like on the PC’s touch pad and the tasks these gestures should execute. So you can make a three-finger swipe shut all open tabs except for the one you are currently browsing. Or ensure another gesture opens a blank tab in the background. It is a bit geeky, but very handy once you get the hang of it.

WHAT ABOUT ANDROID APPS?

Reports suggest that Google is thinking of allowing Android apps—at least some of them—to run within the Chrome browser. There are some apps that already let you do this (including Google’s Arc Welder tool), but given the fact that Google is extending the Google Play store to Chrome OS devices such as the Google Chromebook, chances are Google will allow Android apps on the Chrome browser officially too. You will, of course, need a PC with a touch screen for optimum use—Android apps are tailored for touch controls.

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