Although Google Chrome comes with a integrated Safe Browsing module to keep your privacy, that’s just not enough. The internet is a dangerous place full of privacy invasive trackersdeceptive URLs and malicious sites, meaning you always have to do more to ramp up protection.
If you use Google Chrome as your default browser on Windows or Mac, check out these ten best browser extensions from the Chrome Web Store that can improve your online privacy.
The following Chrome privacy extensions are also available in Mozilla Firefox and Chromium-based browsers such as Microsoft Edge, Opera, and Brave.
Privacy Badger is a Chrome extension of the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) aimed at thwarting invisible tracking scripts and cookies. It sends websites the Global Privacy Control and Do Not Track signals and blocks trackers if they don’t comply. It also disables link prefetching (a mechanism sites use to preload pages you’re likely to visit in advance), prevents Google from tracking web addresses you visit, and even replaces social media widgets with placeholders that click to to activate.
Privacy Badger lives next to Chrome’s address bar and displays a live count of blocked trackers for every webpage you load. You can use the Privacy Badger icon for more information and select the Options icon to manage your preferences. For example, you can whitelist sites you trust, allow or deny tracking domains, export your preferences to a JSON file, and more.
Privacy Badger is not strictly an ad blocker, but you will see a marked reduction in ads due to tracker blocking. If the extension breaks a site, add it to the exceptions list or manually activate the blocked trackers.
ClearURLs is a simple extension that removes tracking elements directly from web addresses. Just install it and it will work passively in the background while preventing URL-based trackers from flagging your online activity. It also adds a contextual menu option that you can use to copy tracker-free URLs.
ClearURLs offers a limited number of customization options. Open the ClearURLs extension menu and select the Settings icon, and can choose to allow referral markup trackers, disable hyperlink checking (a form of tracking that allows sites to determine which pages have been clicked), filtering labelsetc.
PixelBlock is indispensable if you use Gmail in Google Chrome. If you don’t know yet, emails may contain tracking pixels able to warn senders when you open and read them (similar to reading receipts in messaging apps).
Not only does PixelBlock block these tracking pixels, but you’ll also see an eye-shaped icon below the subject line in any email that contains them.
DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials replaces Google with the highly privacy-focused DuckDuckGo as the default search engine. It also rates websites based on the number of trackers they use and their general privacy practices on a scale of A (safest) to f† It even comes with a Site Privacy Protection module that blocks trackers to bolster privacy.
The problem? You cannot use DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials without automatically changing your search engine to DuckDuckGo. That can cause problems if you rely on Google’s superior results for your workflow. If not, it’s an excellent extension for privacy-conscious Chrome users.
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is a secure protocol that transfers information in an encrypted format between a website and the browser. Chrome indicates that with the Lock symbol in the address bar. While most sites support HTTPS, you’ll still find a good number that don’t.
Another extension from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, HTTPS Everywhere, helps Chrome force load unencrypted site content in an encrypted format. It’s not a rock-solid solution, but it greatly improves privacy and security as you navigate the far reaches of the internet.
Super Agent is for you if you are tired of specifying your cookie preferences for every site you visit. Not only does the extension remember your preferences and apply them automatically every time, but it also saves a lot of time in the long run.
To manage your cookie preferences, open the super agent extension menu and choose Settings † Cookie preferences† Then choose between accepting or refusing advertising cookies, functional cookies, performance cookies and other forms of cookies.
You never know where a shortened URL will lead you, so you need to have Unshorten.link active in Chrome. The extension automatically loads each shortened URL on a separate page and provides a security rating with an option to continue.
Another alternative extension is Unshorten.It!which you can use to scan shortened links for malicious intent through a contextual menu item.
If you hate digging through Chrome’s internet settings to clear your browsing history, cache and cookies, Click&Clean is a must have. Just install it and you can quickly delete private data and close the browser safely.
It also provides instant access to additional privacy and security enhancing options such as: quick access to incognito mode windowsa built-in privacy scanner, password generator, and more.
Panic Button is the best extension to deal with sudden invasions of privacy… offline. Just install and pin next to Chrome’s address bar, and you can use the Panic button icon to immediately close all open tabs. You can also reselect the icon to restore the tabs once the coast is clear.
In addition, you can create a shortcut that can hide everything faster and even specify a “safe page” to load instead of the closed tabs. To access your Panic Button options, right-click or Check-Click on the Panic button icon and select Options†
Avast Online Security & Privacy is an all-in-one extension. It protects your privacy by blocking trackers, ad networks, and social media widgets.
But where the extension excels most is its ability to scan search engine results in real time. That’s a great way to make sure you’re visiting a trustworthy site and not a domain masquerading as another domain.
You can always do more
The extensions above are not a complete list. You can always use a special ad blocker such as: uBlock Origin to block more trackers, invest in a password manager to improve security (Lastpass, Dashlane, and 1Password are excellent choices), and set up a virtual private network (VPN) for added privacy. Also don’t forget to check out our list of top security extensions for chrome The next.