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Internet 101: Customizing Your Browser

Internet 101: Customizing Your Browser

There may be more ways to customize your browser than you think. If you’ve never really looked into what your browser can do, you might not even know what options you have. Fortunately, most popular browsers can have really cool capabilities once you personalize them. If you find some aspect of your browser inconvenient, it’s possible there’s a way to get rid of those irritations. Even if you think your browser is fine the way it is, you could be missing out on some cool little tricks that change the browsing experience.

In this week’s Internet 101, let’s talk about how customization works and what you might want to add to your browser!

Why you might customize your browser

You might feel like your browser does everything you need it to do—and of course, that’s possible. But browsers are able to be customized for a reason, and one size doesn’t always fit all with browsers.

Your browser’s default settings can really just be a starting point. Depending on what you like, what annoys you, or what you really need, you can likely tweak your browser to make things simpler and more fun.

Here are just a few reasons you might customize your browser:

  • Accessibility needs
  • Aesthetics
  • Privacy concerns
  • Website annoyances
  • Convenience

How do you customize your browser?

Customization works differently depending on which browser you’re using. Since we’re keeping it simple, I’ll just mention that some more experienced tech-minded people might customize their browser by hacking it or by essentially building their own. But for the purposes of this article, let’s stick to the much easier options.

Options, preferences, or settings

Every browser will have preferences or settings of some kind. These options are built-in to the browser. You don’t have to download anything new or go searching for specific tools that you need to add.

Depending on which browser you have, these options might be fairly basic or surprisingly complex. If there are a lot of options, don’t get overwhelmed—just scan through for words or terms you recognize, and try to avoid changing any options that you don’t really understand. Otherwise it could be a hassle to go back and figure out what has been changed!

Extensions or add-ons

Extensions or add-ons are a different way to customize your browser. If your browser has these available (and it very likely does), you can install them to open up even more options. They’re not pre-installed, so you will typically have to search or browse through all the offerings to find what you want.

What can you customize?

There are many different ways to customize most browsers. Of course, some browsers are much more able to be customized than others. And don’t forget, this is just a brief overview of some popular or particularly interesting things to consider. You can do many more things than listed here—browse through your browser’s settings to see if there’s more that interests you! Also, if you use Opera Browser, don’t forget you can use Install Chrome Extensions, and if you use Vivaldi, you can install Chrome extensions by following Vivaldi’s instructions.

(Note: As of writing this article, Safari’s extensions gallery was not accessible. Once it’s able to be viewed, this article may be edited to include Safari options.)

Look through built-in accessibility options

Most browsers will have these options built in to their settings or preferences. You can find change things like font size, use of color, and more.

Make images easier to see

You might want an extension that works with images. To make it easier to zoom in on images, check out Hover Zoom for Chrome or Zoom Image for Firefox.

Work with language tools

There are a lot of things you can do with language extensions. There are a few extensions you should definitely consider adding.

To quickly translate while on the web, take a look at ImTranslator for Chrome, Mate Translate for Firefox, Mate Translate for Microsoft Edge, or Mate Translate for Opera.

To look up a word or check your grammar, try out Google Dictionary for Chrome, Grammar Checker for Firefox, or Grammarly for Microsoft Edge.

Save things for later

Sure, you can bookmark things for later, but some tools are even better than bookmarks. Take a look at some extensions that make it easier to save content for later.

If you want to save things for access from multiple devices, look at Google Keep for Chrome, Save to Google Drive for Chrome, OneNote Web Clipper for Firefox, Evernote Web Clipper for Microsoft Edge, Save to Pocket for Microsoft Edge, or Pocket for Opera.

Cut back on space and time

Some extensions will help use less data, which can save time, or change how your browser works so your browser just moves more quickly. Here are a few ways you can speed your browser up and save space while you’re at it.

To save space by optimizing or compressing the webpages you visit, check out Data Saver for Chrome or Data saver proxy for Firefox.

To speed your browser up by blocking websites from using trackers, try Ghostery for Microsoft Edge.

Get rid of annoyances

There are many, many things about browsing websites that can be unbelievably irritating. There are two offenders that are perhaps worse than the others.

To block ads in your browser, look into Adblock Plus for Chrome, AdBlocker Ultimate for Firefox, Adguard AdBlocker for Microsoft Edge, or Opera Ad Blocker for Opera.

To stop some videos from playing automatically (but, unfortunately, not all of them), consider adding HTML5 Video Autoplay Blocker for Chrome or Disable HTML5 Autoplay for Firefox.

Change the visuals

Your experience with your browser could completely change just by changing the browser’s appearance. It can be lovely to make a browser look more like your own style, and it’s helpful to set things up in a way that makes sense to you. Here are just a few ways to do that.

To change the colors or images displayed on your browser, look to see if the browser supports themes. You can browse themes or wallpapers for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Vivaldi. If you don’t use these browsers, yours might still have themes available. You can often find out by looking in your browser’s settings or preferences.

To rearrange your tabs, take a look at OneTab for Chrome or Tile Tabs for Firefox.

To make your browser’s tabs pretty, check out Dream Afar New Tab for Chrome or ColorfulTabs for Firefox.

Have some fun

There are, of course, quite a few extensions or add-ons you can use to do fun, random, or just very specific things. Below are some popular ways you might use your browser extensions for fun.

To capture (or possibly record) your screen, try out Screencastify for Chrome, Nimbus Screen Capture for Firefox, or Nimbus Screen Capture for Opera.

To easily use GIFs, GIPHY is the way to go—find their extension on Chrome, Firefox, or Opera.

To get a little more creative, take a look at Sumo Paint for Chrome, SketchPad for Chrome, or Web Paint for Firefox.

Finally (and very importantly), to add emojis (or even Bitmojis!) to your messages and posts, check out Bitmoji for Chrome, Emoji Keyboard for Chrome, Emoji Keyboard for Firefox, or Emoji Keyboard for Opera.