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7 extensions (plus 3 bonus ones!) that you might find useful to use on Chrome. We’ll also talk about why Chrome is the browser of choice for many, what an extension is, and how you can get them.
Items Mentioned in this Episode
Blog post: Grammarly: Spell-check on steroids
Hey there, everyone, I’m Amy Chaplin, and you’re listening to episode 77 of the piano pantry podcast. As I’ve been gearing up to offer the online summer session of my digital organization coaching series, I’ve felt inspired to share a few technology-focused episodes.
While the episode title says you’ll hear about 7 useful Chrome extensions, I actually have 10 I’m going to share. Seven are ones that I frequently use that are must-haves to me, and three are fun and silly ones that are newer to me that I don’t use a lot myself, but I think you might enjoy and want to consider, so I’m calling those 3 bonus shares.
Don’t worry – if you’re not even sure what an extension even is – or what all the hype is over using Chrome, we’ll also briefly talk about that before I give you my list.
Also, tune in at the end for a special announcement for those going to NCKP – the National Conference for Keyboard Pedagogy – in a couple of weeks in Chicago.
Have you been stressed over the mass amount of emails hitting your Inbox daily? Do you have a computer desktop covered in files you’re afraid to put anywhere else because you don’t think you’ll be able to find them? Do you like the idea of being more efficient with your workspace but don’t know where to start?
Join me for a 3-day summer intensive where we will walk through a progressive process for cleaning up, reorganizing, and learning to manage six key areas of our digital lives. We’ll cover two areas each day from 11 am-1 pm ET. Monday, July 31, will be devices and computers, Tuesday, August 1, documents and media; and Wednesday, August 2, blog subscriptions and email. As a bonus, you’ll get access to 4 additional online office hours where I’ll be available to help you through the cleanup process. I love what Gabrielle, a teacher from North Carolina, had to say.
She said: I think the motto “use what you have” is impossible when you don’t know what you have! LOL I am confident that finally getting a handle on all of the games, the worksheets, and the digital sheet music – will make me a more efficient teacher. Amy has been so patient and supportive as we rifled through collectively thousands of documents and emails. Every piece of sheet music and game I own is now in a file. It’s pretty amazing and freeing. They all have a place.
Jennifer, a teacher from Ohio said: It’s been a huge relief just understanding how these systems work and how the settings on my computer work. I’ve relied on other people to set up these systems for me in the past and never really understood. Being able to go in and change some of the settings or rearrange files and see how my email system works is so beneficial to me.
For just $79, you’ll start your year off right. Visit PianoPantry.com/digital for more details and to register.
Together, we’ll organize our digital lives.
Since today’s episode is about Chrome extensions, there are three little things I want to address. First, I wanted to start by recognizing that while not everyone may use Chrome, according to a quick Google search, roughly 6/10 people do, so it’s still a large chunk of internet users, with Safari leading next.
Why is that? There are several reasons, I would say. One of the biggest is that Chrome is designed to be faster than other browsers. I find it’s also visually and functionally simple while at the same time being sleeker and more customizable. If you’re on a Mac, I understand why you might use Safari however, if you’re on a PC, I consider giving Chrome a try.
Second, I wanted to make sure I didn’t assume everyone just knows what an extension is. So, an extension is a program you install to create certain functionalities on your browser. Sometimes it’s an extension that only exists to work with the browser, and sometimes it’s an extension of a full program you have that talks to that program. If you’re unsure what I mean, I think it will make more sense once we dive into the list.
Lastly, how do you get these extensions onto your browser? Chrome has a web store similar to your device’s app store. Navigate there by clicking on the three little dots in the top right-hand corner of Chrome, then select “Extensions” about halfway down. In the Chrome web store, you then search for the extension and then hit the button for “add to Chrome.” It downloads it and adds it to your browser automatically.
Your extensions will show up in the top right-hand corner of Chrome just to the right of your search bar and to the left of the 3 little dots that opens Chrome settings and such. If anything, you’ll at least see an icon of what looks like a puzzle piece. If you click on that puzzle piece, you’ll be able to see all of your extensions. In order to see them without having to expand the puzzle icon, you have to click on the little tac pin icon to pin them so they will always appear in your browser bar.
Now that we’ve covered logistics, let’s dive into my recommendations.
If you listened in to episode #076 last week, I shared 5 productivity tips for your digital workspace. The last item on last week list is the first one on my list this week and that’s a password manager.
While we use LastPass, there are certainly other ones out there like 1 Password you could consider. This is one of those extensions that talks to another program – it doesn’t only exist in your browser.
The LastPass extension will interact with you on your browser and save the information into its main vault. LastPass has an app for your device and can also be logged into directly on your browser. It’s so handy – not only for recalling saved passwords – but also for when you create new accounts or update passwords in current accounts.
LastPass will recognize if you’re creating a new account and will have a little popup that will prompt you to ask if you want it to save the new account you created. It will also recognize if you’ve changed a password and can even create custom strong passwords.
The second one is Loom. Loom is a recording software that will allow you to easily create screen recordings and then send a direct link to someone.
It’s so convenient, and you’re not having these screen recordings taking up space in your media account like Google Photos or having to use special screen-recording software.
I remember first hearing about this from Leila Viss maybe a couple of years ago, but I’ve only had reason to start using it myself in the last few months as I brought on an assistant who helps me out a few hours a week. It’s been an easy way to show her quickly how to do something.
On a side note – You might get a kick out of knowing that my assistant is one of my former students. She was actually one of my very first students to sign up back in 2011 for lessons when I first opened my studio, and she was with me for 10 years. She’s a freshman now in college studying digital marketing, so working for me is perfect for both of us!
The next two items, Evernote and Notion, are note-taking and productivity programs. Since they have similar capabilities and uses, so I’m going to talk about them together.
I used Evernote for years until about a year or so ago when a friend introduced me to Notion. Now I tend to use Evernote as kind of my dumping ground where I save things like articles and quotes and take notes during conference sessions and such.
Notion has become the place where I organize my life. It is a lot more visual and database driven with drag-and-drop content blocks. It’s a little more involved to learn to use to its fullest than Evernote, so for MOST teachers, I would still recommend Evernote, but if you are a little more tech-savvy and aren’t afraid to learn new programs, then you definitely might want to try Notion.
Adding the extension to your browser for either of these programs means that you can clip information directly from the internet. Notion’s web clipper is not as advanced as Evernote’s – you can only clip web pages in one format – which is partly why I still like to use Evernote as my place to capture and save – whether it’s an interesting article or an idea for my studio.
Evernote’s web clipper will allow you to clip an entire web page, a selection of text from the page, a cleaned-up version of the page where it removes all the ads, or even images directly from a web page. It’s pretty slick. You can also access your Evernote web clipper by right-clicking on the page.
Number 5 on my list is Grammarly. This is a program that acts as your English teacher. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, tone – it’s amazing how much it detects. I’ve been using Grammarly for so long now, I almost can’t remember when I started.
The company only started in 2009 and I don’t remember having it in Grad school between 2009-2011, unfortunately – what would have been nice, but I’m sure we’ve been using it not long after and have had it for almost if not more than 10 years.
I wrote a blog post several years ago on the piano pantry website when doing a top tools and resources series, which I appropriately called “Grammarly: Spell-Check on Steroids.” LOL, I’ll link to that in the show notes.
My sixth recommendation is another one that I wrote a blog post on several years ago. Back then, it was called WikiBuy but is now Capital One Shopping. There are lots of different extensions like this out there. One popular one called Honey I tried a few years ago, but I didn’t care for it as much.
I’ve been pretty happy with Capital One Shopping. When you purchase something on a website, it will look for coupon codes and automatically try to apply them at checkout for you. It will tell you if it found any or if you have the best deal.
I’ve definitely saved money over the years by implementing this extension on Sheet Music Plus, MusicNotes.com, and any other place I shop. So, give it a try.
The 7th one is ColorZilla. This is a color-picking tool that will allow you to easily find the hex or RGB color code from any color on a webpage. Like Capital One Shopping, there are lots of different color selectors out there. I think this is the 3rd one I’ve had, so give it a try, and if you don’t like how it works, look for a different one in the Chrome web store.
So, those are my 7 top recommended Chrome extensions that I think you’ll find useful: LastPass, Loom, Evernote, Notion, Grammarly, Capital One Shopping, and ColorZilla.
Before I share my 3 bonus extensions, I want to make sure you’re aware of and educated on the fact that while Chrome is said to be the fastest browser, some things can slow it down, and having too many extensions is one of them.
Also, I’ve had extensions in the past that have caused issues, so if you ever start having trouble with your browser after adding an extension, remove it temporarily to see if that fixes your issue. I don’t know the magic number, and I’m sure some extensions cause more lag than others, but just beware that you don’t want to go too crazy here.
The last three I want to mention today are:
Bitmoji allows you to send Bitmoji stickers in Gmail and copy and paste them virtually anywhere on the web. It’s the same thing with Giphy. You can find and use GIFs in email or any other place on the web that might allow you to.
My husband is more likely to use these than I am. His virtual business team is forever sharing silly things like that in chats or during meetings or whatever. It might be something you could have a lot of fun with.
Tab Resize is an extension that allows you to create custom layouts of your browser tabs. You can split your screen into two or 4 windows and such so you’re viewing multiple windows dispersed like puzzle pieces across your screen.
My Windows 11 has a built-in function that allows me to do this, so I don’t use the extension as much, but it may be something you may find super useful.
Splitting screens can be a great way to be more productive with certain workflows. For example, I like to split my screen when doing lesson planning. I put my spreadsheet on the left and Tonara on the right.
Another instance I use split screens is when recording this podcast. I have my notes on one side and the recording screen on another so I see them simultaneously.
So, once again, my 3 bonus extension recommendations are Bitmoji, Giphy, and Tab Resize.
Don’t forget you can get links to everything mentioned here today in the show notes. I’ve linked directly to all of these extensions for you as well as the Chrome web store.
Also, visit pianopantry.com/digital to sign up for the summer digital organization intensive.
Time is closing in on the 2023 biennial National Conference for Keyboard Pedagogy in the suburbs of Chicago. I’m not presenting this year – I was too busy traveling Europe last fall when the deadline hit to submit. Regardless, I’m really looking forward to attending – as always. This will be I think my 3rd or 4th time attending.
I would love to have a chance to say hello to many of you in person, so I’m teaming up with my real-life teacher pal and NCKP roommate, Christina Whitlock, of the Beyond Measure Podcast for an informal meet-up.
You’ll find us hanging out in the lobby of the hotel on Thursday afternoon from 4:15-5:00 – prior to the 5:00 celebration concert. We each have a special little gift in our back pockets you can get too – at least until they run out. I hope you get a chance to come and say hello!
Today’s tiny tip is related to conferences, and that is to take some time to prepare yourself – not just packing – but being intentional with what you want to get out of it. I like to keep a list of teachers that I want to make sure I remember to try say hello to.
It’s also good to have a plan for any new books or materials you’re looking for, in particular for students, so you don’t go too crazy buying tons of books – this is a tip a learned from my friend Christina The same goes for games. Do a quick inventory and see if there are any holes in the games you have. Don’t be tempted to buy a new game about note names with you already have 5 different ones.
If you’d like to check out more of my tips for getting the most out of your conference experience, listen in on episode 59. Thanks for listening in today – I’ll see you next week!