How to Manage Google Chrome Extensions

By James T. Cains

Extensions are a great way to add helpful and productive functionality to Google Chrome, and the Chrome Web Store has thousands of them to choose from in categories ranging from Social and Communication to Developer Tools and Business Productivity. You’ll likely need only a few to enhance your work life, though.

Chrome’s Extensions Manager enables you to do a lot with extensions. To get to the Extensions Manager, though, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Chrome button in the top-right corner of the browser.

  2. Choose More Tools and then Extensions. The Extensions Manager displays (see Figure 1).

    Figure 1: Manage your Chrome extensions.

    Figure 1: Manage your Chrome extensions.

Source: Google

You see a list of the extensions that are currently installed in Chrome. In fact, you may not even realize you have some of these, either because Chrome came with them or your company’s IT department preinstalled them for you.

First, check the Developer Mode box at the top. You see three additional buttons appear. Here’s what they do:

  • Load unpacked extension: You don’t have to download extensions from the Chrome Web Store. You can develop your own extensions and load them, or you can test someone else’s extensions. Just click this button, locate the folder on your computer in which the extension lives, and click OK.

  • Pack extension: This is truly a developer tool, as in you’ll use this only if you develop your own extensions. And if you develop your own extensions, you don’t need to be reading this article!

  • Update extensions now: Chrome downloads and installs the most recent versions of your extensions, if they need updated.

Now, those were just the buttons at the top. Each extension listing also has several things you can do. Take a look:

  • Enable/disable: Check or uncheck the box to either enable or disable an extension. This does not delete the extension.

  • Trash: This is what deletes the extension from Chrome. Notice in Figure 1 that for Affixa, the Trash icon has been replaced by a buildings icon. This icon indicates that the extension was installed by your IT department as part of the regular package of software they make you have on your computer. As such, you can’t remove it.

  • Details: Want to find out more about an extension, click this link. It shows you the extension file size and the kinds of permissions the extension needs in order to run. You can go further and view the extension in the Chrome Web Store if you’re really curious about what it does.

  • ID: This gobbledygook is the extension’s unique identify that only the developer and the Chrome Web Store needs to know.

  • Inspect views: This helps developers to debug their extensions. There is no earthly reason you would want to click this.

  • Allow in incognito: By default, many extensions don’t run when you’re in Incognito Mode, because Incognito Mode is all about not tracking your browsing data, and some extensions may be in the habit of collecting and sharing your browsing data. If you, for some reason, want to still use an extension while incognito, then check this box.

  • Various other permissions: Some extensions may want additional access to certain data, such as the URLs of files. Likely, the extension doesn’t need this to function, but if for some reason you need to grant that access to the extension, then check the appropriate box.