What is a browser extension?

Browsing on the internet has never been easier than it is today. All this is possible with the help of browser extensions. If you are not very familiar with them you must be wondering, “what is a browser extension?” With added functionality to browsers, there is so much more that internet users can do with browsers than simply opening a tab as they search like checking your grammar, get Gmail notifications, help you take notes and so much more.

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A browser extension is like a mini-app but for your browser. They are small software programs that customize the browsing experience. They enable users to tailor browser functionality to individual needs or preferences. In simple terms, they just exist to make your work easier as you browse. Now that we’ve answered “what is a browser extension?’ let’s look at what they can do.

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Some browser extensions available on the Chrome web store

What is a browser extension and what can it do?

The degree to which a browser extension can perform is determined by the browser. Extensions may be used for a variety of purposes although security on the internet has tightened over the years limiting their functionality. You can configure the actions of tabs, add your preferred note-taking program, receive Gmail updates, grammar-check your writing, and even play sports.

There are two kinds of extensions. Most either expand the browser’s capabilities or link an existing service with the browser. Picture-in-Picture for all video players, volume buttons for each page, dark mode for websites that don’t have one, split-screen tabs, save your passwords and plenty of other customizations are all available in this category.

The second type includes features such as a Gmail notification checker, a “Save to Google Drive” icon, a Todoist menu in the toolbar, messaging on WhatsApp web, and many more. Exploring the extension store for your favorite browser is the perfect way to actually see what extensions can do.

You should take caution, however, as you choose these browser extensions because some of them are not guaranteed to be 100 per cent safe. Extensions are running in your browser all the time. They’re running when you check Facebook, when you transfer money from your bank’s website, and when you enter your credit card information.

Majority of the extensions are safe but it is advisable to stick to extensions from companies that you recognize or that are well known to avoid falling into the hands of the malicious ones and putting yourself or your personal information at risk.

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Let’s explore some of the different ways to download browser extensions now that we have answered the question “what is a browser extension?”.

Google Chrome

The process begins by heading to the Chrome Web Store. You can search by name or browse by category. Once you find an extension, simply click the “Add to Chrome” button.

Apple Safari

Safari extensions can be downloaded from the Mac App Store. You can search by name or browse through different categories on the “Safari Extensions” pages. Simply click the “Install” button when you find one that you like.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox uses the term “Add-ons” a lot when referencing extensions. You can search for, browse, and install Firefox extensions from the Mozilla add-on page.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge extensions can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store and the Chrome Web Store. It’s just a matter of finding an extension and clicking the “Get” button.

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