How to Make the Best Web Browser Even Better

Google Chrome

Once again, Internet Explorer created frustration for one of my clients.

Only a few days after having her laptop cleaned up and optimized with our biannual PC Tune-Up Service, Janetta called to report Internet Explorer kept closing every time she tried to check her email or visit Facebook.

She isn’t alone.  I field numerous calls every month from clients suffering grief because Internet Explorer quits working unexpectedly or encounters some sort of problem.

Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Edge in Windows 10, are the built-in programs in Microsoft Windows giving you access to the Internet.

Like most software developed by Microsoft, Internet Explorer is increasingly becoming a very unstable program.  It breaks easily even under normal usage.

In Janetta’s case, the problem started after she unknowingly installed a program that “hooked” itself into Internet Explorer.

I recommend you install and use Google Chrome as your primary web browser.  It functions in much the same way as Internet Explorer, but with many added benefits, including:

  • You will view websites faster.
  • You will experience fewer problems.
  • Your computer will be safer from hackers and viruses.

Google Chrome can download for free at: https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/desktop/index.html.

You can add programs – called extensions – to Google Chrome.  These add-ons provide more functionality and ease of use to an already great web browser.

Unlike Internet Explorer, reliable and trustworthy add-ons for Google Chrome don’t create problems and frustration.  It makes surfing the Internet more fun.

Here are several reputable extensions I use or recommend:

Save money with coupons

Getting deals rewards our shopping efforts.  But few of us have time to dedicate to searching for, clipping, and organizing coupons like the people on the TLC hit show Extreme Couponing.

Nothing is sweeter than the Chrome add-on Honey.

Honey (http://bit.ly/honey-chrome) automatically searches for coupons and sales as you check out at various online retailers.  All you have to do is click the Honey button in the menu bar of Chrome.

Of course, not all the coupon codes it finds will work.  But as Benjamin Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Safely store & remember your passwords

Remembering passwords for dozens of websites is probably one of the worst things about the Internet.

Some sites, especially banking and medical ones, force you to create complex passwords and then make you change them every 90 days.  Even stipulating that you can’t use your previous passwords.

LastPass (http://bit.ly/lastpass-chrome) is the best program I’ve discovered that keeps all your passwords and personal information in one easy-to-access, secure place.

It’s free if you just want to use it on your computer.  It’s only $12 a year to add access to your passwords on your smartphone or tablet.

Block annoying pop-ups

Visit any major website often enough and it will infect your computer with a nasty virus.  That includes MSN.com, Yahoo.com, FoxNews.com, TWC.com, ESPN.com, and others.

The newest method virus writers and hackers use to spread their handiwork is via advertisements that appear on various websites.

AdBlock Plus (http://bit.ly/adblockplus4chrome) adds an extra layer of security to your PC by removing banner ads and pop-ups as you visit websites.

It also helps your favorite websites load faster.

Easily check Gmail

Gmail ranks as the world’s most used and best free email service.  It’s way better than the free email account offered by your Internet Service Provider.  I prefer it above a Yahoo or Hotmail account.

With the Google Mail Checker extension (http://bit.ly/gmail-chrome), a quick glance at the icon in your menu bar tells you how many unread messages reside in your inbox.  It also lets you quickly open your inbox with one click of your mouse.

Force yourself to stay off Facebook

As I’m writing this column, the temptation is oh so strong to slip over to Facebook and see the latest statuses posted by my friends.

If your willpower needs a little help to keep you focused on completing other computer-based tasks rather than mindlessly surfing the Internet, you should install the Simple Blocker add-on for Chrome (http://bit.ly/simpleblocker-chrome).

The app’s developers note it was primarily designed for students, “but can be beneficial to anyone who has a lot to do and seems to get distracted too easily.”

Simple Blocker lets you block certain websites for set periods of time so you can get necessary things accomplished.

And if you have the urge to just turn Simple Blocker off, you can even configure it to prevent you from doing so!

Make your emails and social media posts look like you’re an English major

Not sure how to spell a word?  Fingers type faster than your computer can keep up, resulting in misspelled words on Facebook or in your email messages?

Grammarly (http://bit.ly/grammarly-chrome) can make you look like a spelling bee champion and English major.  This extension “makes sure everything you type is easy to read, effective and mistake-free.”

I know a few friends who should be using this add-on!

Scott Hartley, President/CEO

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