Wonder Tools — Here's what to add to your Chrome browser

Little extensions make a big impact on the Web

Welcome to the Wonder Tools newsletter. I’m Jeremy Caplan. In this post, I’m sharing some useful tools things I’ve added to my browser. Now that so many of us are working in Chrome day after day, it’s worth touching up our Web workspaces with free add-ons that help us do things more efficiently and enjoyably. 💫

Chrome extensions are like tiny, useful apps for your browser. 

To install one of the ones I recommend below, just click on the purple link and then hit the install button. They’re free and require no complex settings or set-up.

I use Chrome, but you can find similar bookmarklets for any other browser. Why am I such a fan of these little browser buttons? They provide useful shortcuts for things I do all the time, freeing up time for creativity. Here are 15 or so that I use often. 

Reading

Mercury Reader
This awesome little button makes anything online a little more readable. It cleans up ads and lets you adjust text size and font and switch between light & dark themes.

Instapaper
Anytime I see an article I don’t have time to read, I hit this button and the article gets saved — free of ads — in my queue for reading later on my phone or laptop. Pocket has a similar extension if that’s your preferred read-later service.

Sharing with Others

Send from Gmail
I click this to forward anything I want to share quickly via Gmail. The link is automatically added to the body of the message and the name of the site is in the subject line! Simple and handy.

Share with Buffer
This makes it easy to add a scheduled post to my social media queue, which the free Buffer will Tweet out on whatever schedule I set. Whenever I want to post about a link, I just click this bookmarklet, add my Twitter intro text and it gets posted for me later. Also works for other social platforms.

Bit.ly Shortener
Anytime I want to share a short link to something I click the bit.ly bookmarklet and I can customize the link name, so it’s bit.ly/pancakestory or whatever I want. Then I can share the simple, more memorable link on social media or in an email, document or Zoom call.  

Web Paint
Click the bookmarklet then draw or type on any site. Works great for remote meetings where you want to point out something on a site. Has a built-in screenshot function and works with any site. 

Organizing Digital Research

Roam Highlighter
I use Roam to organize my notes, ideas and research. I’m writing an upcoming post about it because it’s the best solution I’ve found to the overwhelming problem of scattered notes. This highlighter makes it easy to add things to Roam. If you use Evernote, as I still do occasionally, it also has a useful Chrome extension. For Web citations Zotero Connector is awesome, as is Hypothes.is for annotations.

Notion Clipper
I use this to add anything I want to remember to my Notion collection. It works for anything online that I’ve been reading, listening to or watching— an article, Tweet, podcast or video. It helps me maintain a resonance calendar, an idea I got from Ali Abdaal, a brilliant YouTuber. Here’s a view of a similar set-up from Brandon Zhang.

A resonance calendar is essentially about taking note of things you’ve read and learned from or enjoyed—things that have resonated with you. The cool part is that by saving things in Notion, you’re building a database, not just a list. That enables you later to filter, sort, and categorize things easily. You can then find and share things efficiently and selectively. For instance, you can quickly sift through to see just the data visualizations you’ve viewed recently, or the reports about a particular company. You can view things in a calendar view, a gallery view, a list view, or as a table.

Airtable Clipper
I use Airtable to build structured collections of things like books, podcasts, YouTube videos, and newsletters. The clipper automatically grabs relevant content from a Web page, like the item’s title, image and description. That makes it much faster to build a data set than if I had to copy and paste each element manually. 

Cleaning Up Your Browser

Tabby
This is one of my newest bookmarklets. It smartly closes up tabs I’ve stopped using to keep my browser from becoming a clogged mess with dozens of open pages. Other tab suspenders like One Tab reduce the share of your computer’s processing power used up by Chrome or Firefox by suspending browser tabs you’re not using. (March 2021 update: Great Suspender no longer works. This item has been updated accordingly).

Merge Windows
After opening up multiple windows with numerous tabs each, I use this to bring them all back into a single unified window. 

Toby
Not to be confused with Tabby, Toby actually lets me save all the tabs I’ve got open for future reference, to help speed up my browser. Onetab is also great for this purpose.

Dualless
If you don’t have a second monitor, this little Chrome extension simulates one for you. “Dualless is a poor man's dual monitor solution,” the extension description notes. “It splits your browser windows into two with just 2 clicks.” That’s useful if you’re working on a small-screen laptop and want to keep a Zoom window in view in addition to other documents.

P.S. Yesterday I wrote about welcoming an amazing new cohort of 20 independent journalists from around the world to our new Journalism Creators Program at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. I’m excited about the 100-day journey we’re about to launch into. In a future post here, I’ll share some of the tools we’re using to make the most of remote teaching and learning.

Meanwhile, I’ve loved hearing from some of you about new sites/apps you’re using. I’d love to know more about what tools you rely on. What underrated tool has been useful for you lately? Please share it in this one-question form, or just reply to this email.

Thanks for reading, and have a restorative weekend ahead. - Jeremy