In 2008, Google expanded its lineup of Web-based services with the Chrome browser, a perennial PCMag favorite for its speed and features, as well as support for add-ons, though it lost our Editors’ Choice to Mozilla Firefox in recent years.
However, Chrome remains more popular: as of this writing, NetMarketshare shows it in use by 35.05 percent of Web users, second only to Microsoft Internet Explorer (46.9 percent), and well ahead of Firefox at 11.42 percent. Many other services, though, like Wikimedia, StatCounter, and even the U.S. government peg Chrome as the most used browser, even over IE.
It stands to reason that using Google’s Gmail in the Chrome browser would be like bringing together chocolate and peanut butter, right? Well, actually, Gmail works fine with other browsers, but many Chrome-specific extensions add amazing new features and abilities to the everyday Gmail experience.
Here is a collection of our favorites, many of them free, and all worth a try if you’re a serious Gmail-er using Chrome on almost any platform, be it Windows, Mac, Linux, or even a Chromebook.
Featured Chrome Extensions for Gmail Reviews
No Gmail extension collection is complete without this one, so let’s get right to it: Gmail Offline lets you work with Gmail…when you’re offline. No Internet connection? Who cares? Read, respond, even search your messages. You just won’t receive or send any new mail until you reconnect. It’s actually a full Web app that you use offline; it helps to also install the Gmail Offline Sync Optimizer extension, to make sure changes you make offline get synchronized the minute you’re back on the Internet.
Checker Plus for Gmail
The best extension for users of multiple Gmail accounts—I’ve got three!—is Checker Plus. It gives you fast access via a drop-down menu in Chrome, desktop notifications, color coding, even voice input for writing messages. Users of the Awesome New Tab Page app get full integration. A donation of any amount unlocks even more features.
Send From Gmail
There are links on the Internet that do nothing except open an empty email for you to send to someone. But the way most browsers react to them is to open up an external email client. If you’re a Gmail user, this extension ensures all those “mailto:” links open a new compose message window where it should: Gmail. Go into options to set it to use the domain name you use in Google Apps, if necessary. It also puts a button on the toolbar that lets you forward anything you see online via a Gmail message.
Free or $35.88/year for the Individual Premium plan Google thinks it knows exactly what users want, so sometimes it makes interface changes to Gmail, which can be infuriating. Gmelius (pronounced ‘Gmail’-‘ius’) gives you back some control of the inbox. Features including: color-coding navigation buttons; moving around the attachment icons; hiding the footer; disabling chat/Hangouts; standardizing the look of all incoming messages to avoid people’s ugly font choices; and blocking ads. If you go with the premium version, you can do a lot more, like block trackers in messages, set up delayed send times, and better integrate with Google Calendar.
Secure Mail for Gmail (by Streak)
Also known as SecureGmail, this free extension promises to prevent message snooping via built-in encryption/decryption tools. Append a password to sent message, and the recipient won’t be able to open it unless they are also on Gmail, have the extension loaded, and get the password from you. (If you’re sending or using other email services/software, such as Yahoo Mail, Outlook, or Outlook.com, you may want to consider Virtru.)