Last year, Google was giving out free Chromebooks to a select group of test users. Being the Google fan that I am, I emailed my friend in the Google office in Chicago to see if he could help me get my hands on one of these free computers. A few weeks later, I received a letter in the mail from my friend with a Google Chrome sticker enclosed and a handwritten note. The note read: “Attach this sticker and download the Chrome browser to transform any laptop into a Google Chrome Notebook.”
While my friend’s note wasn’t entirely accurate, the best jokes are often based on truth. Since the day I received his note, I have discovered just how useful the Chrome browser can be, not only as a faster and easier way to use the internet, but also as a very useful productivity tool, both online and off. By utilizing Chrome’s app features, you can streamline many of your day-to-day processes and save memory on your computer with lightweight extensions and SaaS tools that fit right in your browser. Here are a few of my favorite Chrome apps for productivity:
Slide Rocket: Slide Rocket is a nice little alternative to Power Point that has a large variety of themes and options to create sleek, professional presentations within your browser. As an online product, it allows you to easily share and collaborate with others, and it allows you to pull graphics directly from Flickr, Fotolia, Google Docs, and your own computer. If you don’t have access to a web connection, you can also download the desktop version which lets you synchronize presentations from your online account to the desktop. Plus, SlideRocket has HTML5 platform support, which makes it easily viewed in mobile products such as the iPhone and iPad.
Offline Google Mail: Offline Google Mail is an app that will support offline access to your Gmail account. Anytime Chrome is running, this app will automatically synch messages and queued actions while you are online. That means that you will be able to read, respond to, search and archive messages even if you, for example, lose web service on your morning train commute to work. Plus, unlike other email viewers, this app is built right into your web browser, making the Chrome browser a truly versatile product for both online and offline use.
Tab Cloud: This app allows you to save tab groups and restore them at a later date on any computer. This is great for organizing research on different projects, and to name each group to keep everything organized. Tab Cloud also has a compatible iPhone/iPad app so you can pull up website groups on-the-go and across platforms.
Scribble: Scribble is a simple app that lets you take your sticky notes off your desk and onto your screen. With this app, you can take down notes, thoughts, reminders and random ideas in your browser and manage those notes in one place. This app has an auto-save feature, allows you to arrange notes however you want, and gives you the option to attach reminders to specific notes. This app is also accessible offline since notes are stored locally in your browser, or you can pull them up from multiple computers by logging into your Google account from any Chrome browser.
Write Space: This app is a customizable full-screen text editor that lives entirely in your web browser. It doesn’t come with many bells and whistles, and you can’t add images or fonts, but it helps minimize distractions by turning your web browser into a full-screen word processor. It features auto-save and offline functionality, as well as live document statistics. While this application will not be your first choice for publishing, it is a great way to bang out first drafts without distractions.
Have you explored the Google Chrome app store? If so, share your favorite apps in the comments below.