Last week I shared some of my favorite computer productivity hacks. Today I’m sharing web browser productivity hacks.
Most apply to Chrome, but I know some (if not all) of the Chrome extensions I mention also have versions for other popular browsers, such as FireFox and Edge.
1. Turn off browser notification requests
If you use chrome, you’ve probably been annoyed by a popup asking you to approve notifications on every new website you visit. SO ANNOYING!
Here’s how to block those notifications once and for all.
2. Get control of your tabs
Any other tab-aholics out there? I’ve got two hacks for handling tab overload.
Scenario #1: Pinned Tabs
I’ve got one browser window open and I’m opening and closing tabs like a crazy lady. There are a couple of tabs (usually my calendar and to-do list) that I want to be easily accessible all the time.
I just right click the relevant tab, select “Pin Tab” and Chrome “locks” the tab at the left side of the browser window. I can pin as many tabs as I want and, even if I close Chrome, these tabs will remain pinned when I open Chrome again.
(Tip: If you have multiple windows open, be sure that the window with the pinned tabs is that last one you close or use Ctrl + Shift + T to open previously closed tabs/windows until you find them.)
Scenario #2: OneTab
I start searching for games to play at next month’s group lesson. Before I know it, I have 37 tabs open and, of course, now is the moment my computer demands an update. I don’t want to lose all those tabs!
Enter: OneTab. This little Chrome extension gathers up all those tabs into one group and stores them, kind of like temporary bookmarks.
After I restart my computer, I can just open Chrome and then OneTab and, with a single click, re-open all 37 of those tabs to pick up where I left off.
3. Setup a password manager and form fill
I like using a dedicated password manager rather than using Chrome’s built-in password storage because I can use it across multiple browsers, devices, and for desktop apps that sometimes require a password.
My password manager of choice is LastPass. In addition to passwords, LastPass can store and fill in forms with addresses, credit card information, and other details. I can set it to require re-entering my master password before filling in any of this info and it has some nifty features for sharing passwords securely with my virtual assistant. Game changer!
It works on mobile, too!
4. Cut down on distractions
StayFocused is another Chrome extension that I’ve come to love.
It helps save time by restricting access to specific websites. The extension suggests a list of the most common time-sucking culprits (Facebook, YouTube, etc.) and you can add your own.
I even customize the restrictions to block sites for specific days or hours, or limit the time I can spend on a site each day. This is perfect, since I do need some access to social media for my work, but I don’t want those little tasks to turn into hour-long Facebook rabbit trails.
5. Learn keyboard shortcuts
You know I heart some good keyboard shortcuts. 😊 Here are the ones I use constantly in Chrome:
Ctrl + T – Open new tab
Ctrl + Shift + N – Open new Incognito tab
Ctrl + W – Close current tab
Ctrl + Shift + T – Reopen the last tab closed (you can use this repeatedly to open all previously closed tabs in reverse order)
Ctrl + Tab – Jump to the next open tab
6. Use the omnibox for search and history
I could do a whole post on how to use the omnibox (that’s the name of the Chrome address/search bar) more effectively, but I’ll just leave you with these two tips today:
You can search many websites (YouTube, Amazon, etc.) before navigating to them and waiting for the page to load. Just start typing the URL (I usually get as far as “yo” when Chrome suggests YouTube.com) then hit Tab, type your search query, and hit Enter.
The same tactic can be used for navigating to pages you’ve visited before. I use Google Drive extensively and rather than navigating to drive and then searching for the document, I just start typing the document name in the Omnibox and Chrome can usually figure it out.
7. Log in/out of accounts in Chrome
If you’re a multiple Google account user and you’ve ever set up a fresh install of Chrome or opened it on a new device and had all your settings and history (seemingly) disappear or change, hold on. Here’s what probably actually happened: you logged into Chrome (not Gmail) with a different account on the new device.
All your settings, preferences, bookmarks, extensions, etc. are linked to the Google account you used to log in, not to the browser itself. This means that if you log in with one account you’ll get one set of settings and if you log in with another account you’ll get an entirely different collection of settings.
You can log in to Chrome with multiple accounts or users, which is handy if you share a computer or device. If you don’t share, I recommend sticking with one login and making sure you’re logged in with the same one across all your devices.