Google's Chrome Web browser isn't just for surfing the Web. With the right extensions, Chrome can become a productivity hub that lets you manage many different aspects of your business. There are extensions that can help you take and view notes, meet remotely and even balance your books. But with such a big library in the Google Chrome Web Store, it's hard to know which are worth your time. Read on for six of the best Chrome browser extensions for work.
Smartsheet is a powerful project-management app that you can use directly in your Chrome browser. The app has the look of a familiar spreadsheet, so it's fairly intuitive and easy to use. Context-sensitive columns let you access drop-down menus to change the assignment date, priority and completion status of any item with just a few clicks. You can add sub-assignments to any item, and then expand or collapse items to zero in on details or focus on the bigger picture. Smartsheet also lets you attach videos, contracts, documents and other files to assignments so you and your teammates have immediate access to them. Meanwhile, the ability to switch among a spreadsheet view, calendar and interactive timeline helps you see all your scheduled items at a glance.
Business Hangouts for Google Chrome takes the basic Hangouts app — a solid videoconferencing platform — and adds extra features specifically for business users. Those features include a registration tool to help you manage attendees for each meeting, plus an email system that lets you send out invitations, reminders and follow-up messages. When you set up a meeting, you're automatically prompted to invite contacts via email, SMS text message or social networking platforms. The other perk of using Business Hangouts over the standard Hangouts app is that it lets you create meeting rooms that anyone can join, even if they lack an account on the Google+ social networking website. Moreover, installing Business Hangouts as a Chrome App gives you the ability to create a new meeting with one click.
You don't need to install a desktop program to balance your small business's books. Wave Accounting is a solid finance application that runs right in your Chrome Web browser. You can enter expenses manually, or let the app automate the process by connecting it to your bank or credit card accounts. You can also create invoices using premade templates, add logos and brand colors, and send them to clients — right within your browser. Wave also lets you accept credit cards, so your customers can complete transactions online quickly and easily. As a bonus, the app can generate accounting reports, balance sheets and more to help you see your spending at a glance.
Evernote is a robust note-taking app that's available on virtually every computing platform, as well as on the Chrome browser. Installing the app gives you one-click access to the Evernote Web portal, where you can view your existing notes and add new ones. It lets you type or dictate notes, snap photos, create to-do lists and more, and once an item is created, it's automatically synced across all your devices. It also features text identification, which can recognize printed or handwritten text, letting you track down specific notes later on using keywords. Evernote works well on a mobile device, but it's even more useful on your desktop computer, where you probably spend most of your workday.
Shoeboxed is a handy Chrome app that lets you keep recipes, bills and other financial documents organized just by snapping a photo of each item with your smartphone. Once a document is uploaded to the app, its text-recognition software automatically extracts important information, including vendor, date, total and payment type. Ultimately, Shoeboxed creates a full searchable digital database of your transactions right in your Web browser — and that could pay off in a big way when it's time to file your taxes. It's a great alternative to organizing documents by hand, which is laborious and time-consuming, and it eliminates the need to hire someone to manage your paper documents for you.
Chrome Remote Desktop
Instead of installing a dedicated remote desktop application, try the Chrome Remote Desktop extension in your Chrome browser. It lets you access your files and programs on your work PC from a mobile device, as long as your computer is turned on and the extension is running. Once setup is complete, you can view your Windows, Mac or Chromebook desktop right on the display of your smartphone or tablet, and open files just as you would on your desktop PC. You can even run full desktop programs, such as Photoshop or Microsoft Office, via Chrome Remote Desktop. If you want reliable access to your work computer from anywhere, the extension could really come in handy.