I’ve found myself plenty busy lately. The new job, new baby, and newly four have been making it difficult to get sleep, let alone writing time. As a result, however, my obsession for to-do apps has flexed its brawn and muscled its way back to the forefront of my thoughts — especially after I accidentally discovered Any.DO.
I like Google Chrome. Love it, in fact. I love the extensions, I love the OS-style feel of it, and I love the apps integration that makes that feel possible. It long ago took over Firefox for me, and, while I love the foxy Fox, I’ve never been able to go back to it full time.
The one thing I find with Google Chrome, however, is that — like my computer and my mobile devices — I have a tendency to collect apps that seem useful, and then rarely use them. I tell myself that they might come in handy one day (and therefore should be kept), but that’s probably just an excuse — an excuse that got me wondering: do you have the same problem?
I organize my apps into different pages, and I’ve listed them below, only detailing the Quick Apps page, which are the ones I like to keep available and (in theory) use the most. I’ve uncluttered recently, but I still find that I barely use many of the apps within.
Evernote Web – I never open this. Well, very rarely. I use the desktop app or my mobile apps instead. I keep it, though, on the off-chance that I’ll load up Chrome OS or install Linux and sync my profile. Or something.
Springpad – I like Springpad and I do use this, as the app is strictly web-based at this time. I also enjoy some of the integration into the context menu, though I don’t actually use it that often.
Producteev – I use this one, too. Producteev has a desktop app, and that’s great, but it needs work. I also prefer to have my task manager in the browser, as I do most of my work while online, and the browser makes it quickly accessible.
Wunderlist – I love Wunderlist. It’s probably the sexiest task/list manager out there. I rarely use it, though, as my workflow is based around Producteev. Occasionally, I might use it to quickly make a pretty list that I want with me on my iPhone and iPad, but I have no real need for it. But it’s pretty!
Wunderkit – I know what you’re thinking… If I don’t use Wunderlist, what do I need the whole Wunderkit for? Short answer — I don’t, even though it’s awesome. But I keep thinking I might employ it as an alternative for Producteev or something. That will likely never happen, though — and shouldn’t I put it in my App testing folder, instead? Yeah, you’re probably right. And yet…
Timer – This is a simple button that fires the Timer site/app (formerly TimerTab, which we covered here) — which allows you oddly enough, to time stuff. You can even set a YouTube video as an alarm. I chose Spill the Wine by Eric Burdon and War.
Gmail | Offline Google Mail – I live in Gmail, so this is a no brainer. I set it to open in its own window and roll out. I don’t usually use Offline Google Mail, and I think it may be totally useless now that Google is doing better offline mail within the regular Gmail app, but I haven’t tossed it yet. Just in case…
Google Calendar – There are a number of ways I can get at Google Calendar, but I use this when I want it to easily open in its own window. Which is a rare thing… but I do still use it.
TweetDeck | Hootsuite – I have no idea why I keep these here. I find that I manage multiple Twitter accounts more effectively on my phone, or by using LastPass to sign in to the account I choose. For work accounts, I have a whole other browser profile that I tend to use, so there is never any real conflict. If I consolidate, though, one of them could be useful, I suppose. Who needs to have so much social information thrown at you at one time, though? Keep it simple and lower your stress level, says I.
Box | Dropbox – I use both of these, but if the two, Box is the only one I ever open, because it is a web-only interface. I use my OS for Dropbox. I keep it there for the Google OS potential, though. I used to have SugarSync there, as well, but that app seems to have disappeared for the Chrome Web Store.
My other pages are separated by Design, Fun Stuff, and App Testing.
In Design I have several Aviary image editing and creation apps, Picnik, and Audiotool. Again, I think I keep these for when I’m on a computer that isn’t Adobe-friendly, as I never use them otherwise. Design also has Zootool (a visual bookmarking app I never use), jsFiddle (code-testing sandbox that I rarely use), Pinterest (more for my wife, than me – and why under design…?), Summify, and Revisu (helps with design iterations when using Google Drive).
Fun Stuff (which is woefully bare, unfortunately) has Kid Mode for Chrome, which is the Zoodles app for my daughter. Zoodles is awesome, but the app hasn’t worked properly in Chrome for a while, leading me to use Firefox for this particular function. This page also has YouTube (which I mostly get to via search), Full Screen Weather (which I usually check on my phone), Graphicly Comics (which I never use), and Planetarium (used rarely). Netflix used to be here, but it is nowhere to be found on the Web Store now.
App Testing tends to change, by its nature, but there are a few things in there that are persistent for some reason. I’ve left Jolicloud in there, as well as Memonic, and SlideRocket (which is cool, but I don’t generally use due to the pricing). I’ve also got HelloFax in there (it works with Google Drive and I use it sometimes, but had nowhere else to put it), Summify (it will stop working eventually, as it’s been bought by Twitter, but I keep it here in the meantime) and Thinkery (possible Evernote alternative I need to get around to testing more). This is also where I keep the Web Store link.
So there you have it. Even after going through every app in my Chrome set up, I still don’t know what ones to get rid of, but I only use about a third of what I have with any regularity. It’s a conundrum, I tell you!
How about you? Do you have any Chrome apps that you keep around, but never use? What are the apps that you do use, and couldn’t live without?
Google Reader is the best RSS subscription collector out there — but only as a base. In practice it has one of the ugliest user interfaces I’ve ever come across. It’s busy, cluttered, and generally hard to look at and use. If it weren’t for all of the apps that utilize Google Reader within their own UI, I’m guessing it would have tanked along with other unwieldy Google services. Thankfully, some enterprising folks have used browser technology to re-skin Reader into something that actually makes content easy to consume. One of the best is Reeder for Chrome.
Note: Reeder for Chrome will, at some point, be changing its name to avoid confusion.
Reeder for Chrome delivers. It may not have all of the features you’re used to from the actual app, but most of them are there, and the look and feel makes Google Reader not just bearable, but a pleasure to use. It is especially useful for Windows, Linux, or Google ChromeOS users that want what those Mac folks have.
With all of the information, files and, well… stuff we have stored online, it can be a bit complicated to sift through it all when you need to go back and find something. Greplin makes that sort of search a whole lot easier. It indexes several of your online accounts, not the least of which are Facebook, Dropbox, and Gmail, and works like your own personal Google.
Greplin has been around since the latter part of 2010, and entered public beta in February of this year. Since then, they have been adding more and more services, and have even developed a Chrome extension that plugs them right into your Gmail — for a search experience that is arguably better than Google’s built in functionality.
Greplin is free to use for the most part, indexing up to 10GB worth of data from services like Twitter, Gmail, and other personal Google services like Gcal, Docs and Contacts, as well as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Dropbox. If you want to index accounts like Evernote, Google Apps, and business-related services like Basecamp and Salesforce, however, you will need a premium subscription — which is only $4.99 per month ($49.99/year). There are also a few services that are unlockable via recommendations to friends, such as Tumblr, Google Reader, and Del.icio.us.
If you have a need to search through your online files and life in general, it doesn’t get better than Greplin. The interface is fantastic, the instant search feature saves time, and it actually performs better and faster than Google even in the search giant’s own services. The Chrome extension is a nice touch, as well, as it also plugs into the Omnibar, allowing you to search your data by simply typing the letter g, followed by a space and your search term.
A new and incredibly useful extension has popped up on the Chrome Web Store: Personal Block List (by Google). If you have ever searched for something and been plagued by useless links that wiggle past Google’s algorithm — and odds are you have — then this extension is your friend. Personal Block List adds a handy little “Block [URL]” button to the right of the “Cached” and “Similar” links in Google’s search results. Once clicked, that site is omitted from your search results until you decide otherwise.
Neat, huh? Of course, it should be mentioned that this extension will transmit information to Google regarding the sites you have blocked, including patterns that you create as you block or unblock sites. Google promises to only use this information for good and to improve their products. Actually, there are no promises. They just say that you “agree that Google may freely use this information to improve [their] products and services.” Considering all of the things out there that already track browsing habits — including Google — this sort of tracking may actually be a step forward.
In any case, the extension does its job well. In a few of the coding-related searches I have been conducting lately, looking for help on a particular area of menu design, I repeatedly found myself directed, via several different domains, to the same annoying website trying to sell me their tool that was apparently supposed to make my life easier. My annoyance in this regard is no more. The Personal Block List extension for Google Chrome (as well as Chromium, and Rockmelt) works!
If I were to have any issues with the extension, they would be that it does not work from the searchbar, only from the actual Google site, and that it doesn’t appear to have a master list in the cloud. That last surprised me, and meant that I had to block the same site twice, once in Rockmelt, and once in Chrome. Still, it did the job. I can see that there will be many more sites that will end up being forcibly removed from my search results soon.
Try it out the Personal Block List (by Google) Chrome extension here.