7 OS X Tips for Windows Users

If you recently purchased a Mac or if you have been required to use a Mac for work, you might be frustrated trying to use OS X if you have been a long-time Windows user. This is completely understandable and Apple really doesn’t care to change their OS to match that of Windows anytime soon.

Apple loves OS X the way it is and it will probably remain the way it is for the remainder of its life. This means you’ll need to get used to some of the differences between Windows and Mac. In my view, OS X could still be made to be easier to use by default, but unfortunately, you have to manually make some changes to make things better.

In this article, I’m going to give you a couple of my favorite tips for Windows users who have to use a Mac and OS X. Once you get used to OS X, you may even like it more than Windows, which is what happened to me. There is a small learning curve, but it’s worth the effort. Also, be sure to check out my post on programs and features in OS X that are equivalent to Windows.

Tip #1 – How to Right Click

One of the most annoying things as a beginner Mac user is trying to figure out how to right click! There is no separate right-click button for Macs and this can be really annoying for some people. Luckily, the Apple method is actually kind of more intuitive and easier to use.

All you have to do to right-click is to use two fingers when you perform a normal click. When you click with two fingers, you get the right-click context menu. For me, this is way more convenient than having to move my finger all the way down to the correct button like on most Windows laptops.

You can change the settings for how right-click works by going to System PreferencesTrackpad and clicking on the Point & Click tab.

By default, the right-click option is called Secondary click in OS X. If checked, it is normally set to Click or tap with two fingers, but you can click on the small little arrow and choose from two other options also: Click in bottom right corner or Click in bottom left corner. If you just love the way you did it in Windows, you can tweak OS X to get the same behavior.

Also, another quick tip is to check the Tap to click option also. Most Windows laptops allow you to tap to click, but OS X does not have this enabled by default so you have to manually press down the button to click. If you go to Scroll & Zoom, you can also change the scroll direction to whichever is more natural for you.

Tip #2 – Add Applications to the Dock

The other major change that is most jarring for Windows users is the lack of a Start button. There simply isn’t any central button in OS X. You have the small Apple logo icon at the top left, which can do a few things like get you to System Preferences or let you restart/shutdown your computer.

The Dock is basically like the Windows taskbar, but only with shortcuts and nothing else. The other annoying thing is that it starts out completely full of default Apple apps. I almost never use more than one or two, so the first thing I do is get rid of them. You can do this by right-clicking on the icon in the dock, choosing Options and choosing Remove from Dock.

Once you have done that, you can add a kind of All Programs folder to your Dock that will let you see a list of all programs installed in OS X. To do this, you have to drag the Applications folder to your dock. In order to do that, you need to click on the icon of your hard drive that should be on the Desktop. If you don’t see it, click on Finder at the top left of your Mac and then click on Preferences. On the General tab, make sure to check the boxes for Hard disks, External disks and CDs, DVDs and iPods.

Click on the hard disk icon on your desktop and you should see the Applications folder listed along with other folders like Library, System, Users.

Go ahead and drag that folder down to your Dock. Now when click on the icon, you’ll get a full listing of all the programs installed on your Mac. It’s better than trying to add them all to your Dock or having to use Spotlight to find the program you want to run.

You can also use Launcher (the silver/grey rocket icon in the Dock), but I never find myself using that for some reason.

Tip #3 – Eject Drives using the Trash

This one has to be the best. For the longest time, Apple has confused people when it comes to ejecting devices from the system. In order to eject a flash drive or DVD, you either have to right-click and choose Eject or you have to drag the item into the Trash.

This would be like dragging your USB drive into the Recycle Bin in Windows, which basically means delete everything! So obviously, people don’t even like the idea of throwing anything that has important data on it into a trash can!

However, that’s how you have to do it in OS X and no, it won’t result in any lost data. You’ll notice, actually, that when you click and drag an external drive or disc in OS X, the icon for the trash can changes to an eject icon. I guess this is supposed to make us feel better somehow.

Tip #4 – Tweak Finder

Finder is basically like Windows Explorer. A much simpler version of Explorer in my view. However, I prefer the more detailed and cluttered view of Explorer than the streamlined Finder. It’s just too simple.

So to add more stuff into Finder, open a Finder window and then click on View and click on the Show Path Bar and Show Status Bar options. This will give Finder a more Explorer-like look.

While under View, click on Customize Toolbar to add a couple of useful icons to the default toolbar. Personally, I like to add the New Folder, Delete and Get Info buttons to my toolbar.

Lastly, click on Finder, then Preferences and then click on Sidebar. Here you can add other items to the Finder sidebar like Pictures, Music, etc. This is similar to the library folders in Windows.

On the General tab, you can also edit the New Finder window shows option and pick something other than All Files. I prefer to pick my home folder, which matches more to Windows explorer.

Tip #5 – Learn to Use Spotlight

If you’re used to the search box in the Start menu on Windows, you’ll be happy to know there is an equivalent search option in OS X called Spotlight. You can get to it in two ways: either by clicking on the magnifying glass at the top right of your screen or by pressing the Command + Spacebar keyboard shortcut.

Using Spotlight is the best way to find your files, change settings in OS X, find apps to install, find emails, find calendar events, etc. It also shows results from the web, so you could search for Apple and get suggested websites and even a map to the local Apple store.

Tip #6 – OS X Uses Spaces & Full Screen

 Another thing you have to get used to is understanding how those three buttons at the top left of every window work. In Windows, you have three buttons: a minimize button, an expand button and a close button. In OS X, you have a red close button, a yellow minimize button and a green button that expands, but differently depending on the program.

If you click on the green button for Safari, for example, it will expand to full-screen and everything else will disappear. If you move your mouse to the top of the screen, you’ll get see the toolbar, but that’s about it. So where did all your other windows go and how do you get to them?

Well, in OS X, the app has basically gone into its own space. If you scroll up with three fingers, you’ll see something called Mission Control. Basically, it shows you a thumbnail of each desktop or program that is using its own space.

They are basically virtual desktops in OS X. Most built-in apps will use up their own space when expanded using the green button. You can either click on a space to activate it or you can use the three finger swipe to the right or left to browse through the spaces. I do like this feature a lot because it lets you work in one app fully, but still allows you to get around to other apps quickly.

On some apps, however, the app will expand to full screen, but it will not go into its own space. It’ll basically remain on the original desktop, just taking up most of the screen. Most third-party apps like Microsoft Office now support the full-screen mode that go into their own space.

You can also click on the little plus icon to add a new desktop if you like. You can have specific programs open in specific desktops if you like and you can even change the background so that each desktop has a different one. It takes a bit of practice, but once you get used to it, you’ll be using it all the time. Just remember the three finger swipes.

Tip #7 – Install Programs from the Mac App Store

By default, Apple tries to protect you by only allowing you to install apps from the Mac App store and from identified developers. In one sense, it’s good because it keeps you a bit safer without having to do much on your part.

If you want to install a new program, the best place to go is the Mac App store. Whereas Windows software is usually downloaded from everywhere on the Internet, most programs you’ll ever need to install on your Mac will be available in the Mac App store. If you really need to install something from some other place, you can go to System PreferencesSecurity & Privacy and select Anywhere under Allow apps downloaded from.

So hopefully those are some good tips for beginner Mac users who pretty much used Windows for their entire lives. There are a lot of other differences, but if you can get through these major ones, you’ll enjoy using your Mac rather than wanting to beat it. Enjoy!

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Top Ways to Extend Your iPad’s Battery Life

Even though I don’t use my iPad nearly as much as I did a few years back, it’s still comes in handy on long trips or when I need to distract my kids for a little while. The longer the device can last, the better for me. Apple has a specific time duration that each iPad model should last based on regular usage, but actually reaching that value is quite a task.

The reason behind the disconnect is the software. Even though Apple creates great hardware, their software is sorely lacking. iOS, in my opinion, has been getting buggier and slower in each new version. It’s amazing to me that my 64 GB iPhone is constantly running out of space even though I’m using iCloud for storing everything.

In addition, there are a whole bunch of iPad models out there right now all with different versions of iOS installed, which is problematic. My iPad Air 2 can be updated to iOS 10, but my iPad 2 can only be updated to iOS 9 and will probably be stuck there forever.

In this post, I’ll list out as many ways I know possible to improve the battery life of your iPad by adjusting settings in iOS. I’ll try to make a note if the feature is not available in an older version of iOS.

Method 1 – Adjust Auto Brightness

Obviously, while you are using your iPad, the screen itself will be the biggest drain on the battery. There is no reason to keep it at full brightness all the time. I have seen a lot of people do this and I’m not sure why!

Firstly, it just hurts my eyes to have the screen so bright in a dimly lit area. By default, the screen should adjust automatically, but I have found that a lot of times it’s brighter than I need. Just swipe up from the bottom of the screen and you’ll see the brightness slider at the top right.

Method 2 – Disable Bluetooth & Cellular

Unless you are using the Bluetooth connection on your iPad, you should leave it turned off to save battery life. In addition, if you have a cellular iPad, make sure to keep it disabled unless you are using cellular exclusively.

Even if you are connected to WiFi, it’s still a good idea to turn off the cellular connection because the iPad will constantly try to find the best cellular connection in the background, which will take a toll on the battery.

Method 3 – Turn Off Background App Refresh

Just about every app you install onto your iPad will have an option for refreshing their content in the background. This can be pretty useful for some apps that you use often, but otherwise, it’s just a battery drain.

I normally keep it enabled for a few apps where I want up-to-date info when I open the app, but disable it for the rest.

The more apps you can turn background refresh off for, the longer your battery will last before you have to charge it again. Personally, I’ve tried disabling it completely and haven’t really seen any downside whatsoever.

Method 4 – Reduce Auto Lock Time

I normally make it a point to turn off the screen on my iPad when I am done using it, but the same isn’t true for my kids. I’ve seen the iPad laying around somewhere with the screen on and no one around.

The lowest setting as of now is two minutes, which still seems long to me. The iPad remains on if you are using it actively like while watching a video, regardless of the auto lock time. However, if you do a lot of reading on your iPad, the lower auto-lock setting will probably annoy you because it will dim and then lock the iPad right in the middle of an article. Basically, try to keep it as low as you can without it being inconvenient.

Method 5 – Disable Location Services

As with background app refresh, there are a lot of apps that use your location even when the app is not running. You can find the location settings for each app under PrivacyLocation Services.

Here you can choose the appropriate setting for each app individually. I suggest doing this because some apps really can’t work unless location services are enabled. However, other apps don’t really need to know your location ever. Try to set as many as you can to Never or While Using. Always is bad because the app will constantly lookup your location in the background.

Some apps are annoying and only give you the option of Never and Always. In these cases, it might be worth trying to find a replacement app that has the third option as well.

Method 6 – Enable Do Not Disturb

My favorite power-saving tip is to use the Do Not Disturb feature. Since my iPad is a secondary device, I don’t really care if FaceTime calls or notifications are hidden until I turn on the iPad manually.

I just set it to Manual and then leave it in Do Not Disturb mode all the time, day or night. This allows my iPad to last in Standby mode for weeks on end. Since all the notifications are hidden, the screen doesn’t keep lighting up for each notification, thereby saving a lot of the battery.

Method 7 – Disable Push in Mail

If you have a lot of email accounts setup on your iPad, the constant pushing of email to your iPad will cause your battery to drain much faster. If you already have email setup on your phone or a primary device and the iPad is just a secondary device, I suggest turning off Push for each account and fetching the mail manually at longer intervals.

Normally, I set fetch to hourly as there is no real urgency to load my mail on the iPad. If you really want to save battery, set it to manually. This way, it’ll only check for mail when you open the mail app.

Method 8 – Check Battery Usage

Lastly, you can go to Battery under Settings and see which apps are eating up the most battery over a 24 hour or seven-day period. If you notice anything unusual here, you should check the settings for the app or remove it entirely.

Using all of these tricks, my iPad normally only needs to be charged once or twice a month unless I use it heavily on a day to watch a movie or videos. It’s also a good idea to keep your iPad up-to-date, even though this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get better battery life. If you have any other tips, post them in the comments. Enjoy!

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How to Enable Flash in Chrome for Specific Websites

If you’re a Chrome user, which you should be, you probably have noticed that Flash is blocked by default in the browser. Google does not like Flash because of the major security flaws inherent in Flash and therefore does everything in its power to force you not to use Flash.

The only problem is there are still a lot of sites that use Flash. None of the major sites you visit every day like Facebook, Instagram, etc. use it, but a lot of smaller and older sites just haven’t bothered to switch to HTML 5. For example, I am taking a Cisco course at my local community college and in order to complete the assignments, I have to log into Cisco’s NetAcademy website. The problem is that some of the questions require Flash to view and answer.

If you do a quick Google search for enabling Flash in Chrome, you’ll see a lot of articles telling you to download Flash from Adobe’s website and install it (which won’t work) or to open a Chrome tab and go to chrome://plugins (which also won’t work anymore). In the most recent version of Chrome (57), you can no longer manage plugins by going to that URL. Instead, you’ll just get a “This site can’t be reached” message.

This is terribly unintuitive and really confused me because I was used to going there to enable or disable Flash as needed. Now it seems they only want you to enable it for the specific sites where it is needed. In this article, I’ll explain how to get Flash to work when you need it and how to keep it disabled otherwise.

Check Chrome Flash Settings

First, let’s check the Flash settings in Chrome. There are a couple of places where you can do this. Open a new tab and type in chrome://flags.

Make sure that Prefer HTML over Flash and Run all Flash content when Flash setting is set to “allow” are set to Default. Open another tab and type in chrome://components. Under Adobe Flash Player, click the Check for update button.

Now click on the Chrome menu button at the top right and click on Settings.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Show Advanced Settings. Scroll down some more and then click on Content Settings under Privacy.

In the popup dialog, scroll down until you see the Flash heading. Make sure that the Ask first before allowing sites to run Flash (recommended) box is selected. Obviously, if you want to completely block Flash in Chrome, select Block sites from running Flash. You should never choose Allow sites to run Flash unless you have a really valid reason like using Chrome in a virtual machine or something.

Allowing Sites to Run Flash

Now for the fun part! In order to run Flash, you have to enable it for specific sites only. There is no longer an option to enable it for everything all the time. One way to specify a site for Flash is to click on the Manage exceptions button under Content Settings – Flash as shown in the screenshot above.

As you can see, I have added the NetAcad site I was talking about earlier with Behavior set to Allow. This method is a bit cumbersome since you must go to the Settings page, etc. The easier way to allow a site to run Flash is to go to the site and then click on the little icon to the left of the URL in the address bar.

The icon will either be a lock icon if the connection is using HTTPS or it’ll be an information icon if the connection is non-secure. When you click on this icon, you’ll see a bunch of settings you can configure for that particular site. Towards the bottom will be Flash. By default, it should be set to Use global default (Ask), which means the browser should ask you if you want to enable Flash for a site that has Flash content.

However, in my experience, the browser never actually asks me to enable Flash content even when there is clearly Flash content on the website. So, I have to basically select the Always allow on this site option in order for Flash to work. Note that you may have to close the tab and reload it in order for the Flash content to appear correctly.

That’s about it. Hopefully, this clarifies exactly how Flash works in the latest version of Chrome. I’m sure it’s going to change again soon, so I’ll be sure to update this post in case that happens. If you have any questions, post a comment. Enjoy!

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Should You Ever Disable a Windows Service?

If you have ever searched for ways to make your Windows computer faster, you’ve probably run across several websites that suggest turning off or disabling certain Windows services. Other websites say it’s dangerous and you should never mess with Windows services. So, who is correct?

Well, the argument can basically be broken down into whether or not you know what you are doing. In my opinion, if you don’t know what a Windows service even is, then you really should not disable any service. If you have some basic understanding of services and programs, then it’s OK to disable only non-Microsoft services.

As a general rule, I never disable any service that comes installed with Windows by default or that is from Microsoft. If you think a service is unnecessary and might be slowing down your computer, you should Google it and then try to uninstall the program or Windows feature that is creating the service in the first place.

However, when you disable non-Microsoft services, your chances of messing something up on your computer are greatly reduced. Most of these third-party services don’t necessarily need to be enabled. They are usually there to check for updates in the background or something similar.

Windows Services Location

First off, there are two ways to view all the services on your Windows PC. You can go to Start and type in services to open the desktop app or you can type in MSCONFIG to open the system configuration utility.

Go ahead and click on the Services tab and you’ll see a list of all services with checkmarks next to each one. If you uncheck the service, it will be disabled the next time you restart the computer.

The other method is to click on Start and type in services, which also will list out all of the services, but each service has to be disabled manually and you can’t hide all of the Microsoft services quickly like you can in MSCONFIG. The one benefit, though, is that it gives you a detailed description for each service.

Examine Non-Microsoft Services

In MSCONFIG, go ahead and check Hide all Microsoft services. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t even mess with disabling any Microsoft service because it’s not worth the problems you’ll end up with later. Many sites will tell you that it’s OK to disable service X or service Y because it’s only used when your computer is part of a domain or it’s only needed when a certain feature is enabled in Windows, etc., but you can never really be certain when a service will suddenly need to be started and used.

Once you hide the Microsoft services, you really should only be left with about 10 to 20 services at max. If you have more than that, you probably have way too many programs installed on your computer. If you do have a lot and you need all those programs, then disabling a few of the services will probably make your computer run faster.

So how do you know which service to disable and which to leave alone? The only third-party services I have come across that you shouldn’t touch are any that have the words wireless, intel or display in them. The wireless ones control your Wi-Fi card and if you disable that service, your wireless connection will disappear.

Intel has quite a few services and I usually just leave those alone because they never use a lot of memory or eat up the CPU. Lastly, any graphics card services should remain enabled. This includes anything with NVIDIA or AMD or the word graphics in the service name. Outside of that, everything else is fair game.

Let’s take a look at some services on my computer. As you can see, I basically disabled all of the services that are related to updates. So does this mean Adobe and Google programs will never update? No, it just means I have to do it manually, which I find myself doing all the time anyway, so it’s not a big deal for me. I also disabled Steam and TechSmith because I don’t use those programs very often and the services turn on automatically once I start the programs.

It’s worth mentioning once that unchecking a service here doesn’t mean it will never run again on the computer. It just means it won’t automatically start when the computer first boots up. When you manually run the program, the services associated with that program will automatically start also.

I kept the Intel Rapid Storage, Malwarebytes, NVIDIA and Realtek audio services enabled for obvious reasons. I want my anti-malware program to be running and I want my graphics and audio to be functioning properly. If you’re not sure by the service name what it does or which program it is associated with, go to the other services app I mentioned and try to read the description. Anything that you’re not sure about, you should leave enabled.

Also, if you do disable something that you find is needed, simply go back into MSCONFIG and check the box to re-enable it. If you’re just messing around with non-Microsoft services, there isn’t a whole lot you can mess up. I also recommend disabling one service at a time, restarting, working on your computer for a while, and then trying another service.

Finally, you may find certain programs starting up that won’t show up in the list of services. In those cases, you have to disable the startup programs, which is in another section. If your computer is slow, check out my previous post on how to speed up Windows. Enjoy!

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10 Awesome Chrome Extensions You Should Install

I’m a big fan of Google Chrome and I feel it’s got just as many extensions as Firefox has add-ons. I also just prefer to use Chrome over IE, Edge or Firefox because I use Gmail, Google Photos, Google Drive and a whole host of other Google products.

There are literally hundreds of great extensions that you can install to enhance Chrome in various ways. There are specific extensions for developers, music lovers, gamers, bloggers, and a bunch of other categories. However, there are some extensions that are more universal and can help pretty much anyone in their daily tasks.

In this article, I’m going to talk about several extensions that I think everyone should install. Even if you haven’t heard of some of these, give them a try before you decide against using them. Having a lot of extensions installed can also slow down your browsing experience, so pick and choose what works best for you, but give each extension a try. You can easily delete or disable an extension in Chrome.

It’s also worth noting that some of the extensions I have listed are based on my heavy reliance on Google, so if you’re not in the Google ecosystem, just ignore those extensions.

Speed Dial 2

One of the first things I like to customize in Google Chrome is the new tab page. By default, it’s a boring list of some recently visited sites and that’s pretty much it. Now there are a lot of fancy extensions that also replace the new tab with dashboards, wallpapers, task lists, etc., but I’ve found the simple Speed Dial 2 to be perfect for my needs.

When I’m browsing the web, I just want quick access to my favorite sites. Speed Dial 2 does that by allowing you to organize all your pages and apps into groups. You can also customize the theme and heavily customize the layout. Lastly, you can create an account and sync everything across all your devices.

LastPass

If you don’t use any password manager yet, then make sure you try LastPass. If you’re using something like KeePass, then don’t worry about this extension. If you use another password manager like 1Pass, then make sure to install their extension. Password managers are a must these days with the number of companies being hacked always rising and the amount of personal information being leaked even greater.

A password manager lets you create complex passwords that are different for each site. You obviously can’t memorize them, so you have to store them somewhere. The obvious fear most people have is that one of these companies will be hacked themselves and all your passwords will be leaked. That is a possibility and that’s why a lot of people use local databases like KeePass. That being said, I’ve been using LastPass for years and they’ve had one incident, which didn’t result in any compromised passwords.

HTTPS Everywhere

HTTPS Everywhere is one of those extensions you should just install and forget about. It basically tries to use HTTPS security on a site if it’s not already secure. It’s from the folks over at EFF, which is a great organization that exists to protect consumers in the digital world.

The only downside I’ve seen with the extension is that it does use a bit more memory than all the other extensions. It’s not a big deal for me since I have 16GB of RAM on my computer, but if you have less RAM, it might be something to consider.

Disconnect

Disconnect is also another extension you can install and just leave. It’s a great privacy tool for making sure every website you visit isn’t tracking everything you do online. In addition, because it blocks tracking, it also saves data and reduces the load time for sites. A lot of requests made to a website are just for the tracking cookies, tracking scripts, etc.

Adblock Plus

Even though a site like mine relies on ads for income, I still recommend an extension like Adblock Plus because there are so many sites out there with tons of ads. Not only that, a lot of those ads have malware in them, which means you can get a malware infection just by viewing the site! That’s plain ridiculous.

My site only shows ads from high quality networks and I try to keep my ads to a minimum that still let allow me to earn an income. The only downside to this extension is that some of the big sites, like Forbes.com, detect ad blocking extensions and won’t let you enter unless you whitelist their site first.

Honey

I was a little skeptical of this extension at first, but the crazy number of good reviews finally made me try it. In the end, I have to say it’s pretty awesome. If you’re online, you have done some kind of online shopping. If you’re like me, you probably buy most things online except for groceries.

Honey will automatically try to find coupons and apply them when you are checking out. Previously, I used to hit up RetailMeNot and a bunch of other sites trying to find a coupon that I could apply before checking out, but now I just use Honey and it finds and tries all kinds of codes. At this point, there are no ads or anything intrusive and hopefully that doesn’t change in the future. It recently saved me $255 on a Dell XPS laptop!

Grammarly

Outside of browsing web pages, watching videos and shopping online, the other major activity in my browser is typing. Typing emails, filling out forms, typing messages in social networking sites, writing articles for my sites, etc. Basically, it’s a lot of typing and inevitably a lot of typing mistakes occur.

Grammarly is a neat extension that will check your spelling and grammar as you type in a whole bunch of different web apps. Most web browsers like Chrome already check spelling, but Grammarly will give you Word-like suggestions for sentence structure, proper wording, etc.

uBlock Origin

Most hardware firewalls that businesses buy for their organizations have web blockers to prevent users from accidentally visiting phishing or malware sites. They work by looking at huge blacklists of bad domains and URLs.

uBlock Origin is an extension that does just that, but in an efficient and memory-saving way for your personal computer. Once you install it, you choose the different lists you would like to protect yourself against and that’s it. Sometimes it’ll block something it shouldn’t, but it’s super easy to disable it for the current website you are on. Highly recommended from a security perspective.

Turn Off the Lights

As I mentioned previously, I’m watching a lot of video when I’m working on my computer. In addition to just YouTube, I also check out other video sites and Turn Off the Lights makes the experience more enjoyable. It basically blacks everything out or replaces everything except the video with a nice background. It’s really not an extension you must install, but if you watch a ton of video on your computer, it’s definitely nice to have.

For YouTube specifically, you can have it play only the high resolution version of videos automatically. This is nice if you have a 2K or 4K monitor and have to keep changing those settings for every video.

FireShot

Lastly, sometimes you have to take screenshots of what’s in your browser and this plugin is way better than trying to use the Windows Snipping tool or something like that. FireShot can capture full scrolling web pages and save them as images or PDF files. You can capture all tabs at once to a single PDF and upload it to OneNote. You can also edit the screenshots and annotate them.

So those are ten extensions that pretty much anyone can use on a daily basis when using Chrome. I tried to keep them as general as possible, so most of them will do their work in the background without you even noticing. Enjoy!

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