How to back up a Chrome extension

Chrome extensions exist in one of two places; in the Chrome web store, or literally anywhere a developer deems fit to distribute them from. Developers mostly user Github when it comes to distributing an extension outside the Chrome web store and they resort to this when an extension is unlikely to be approved. The extensions in the Chrome web store have all been approved by Google however, they may still be removed any time. A developer may decide to pull their extension from the store or Google might change its mind and remove it. In either case, it’s a good idea to back up a Chrome extension that you absolutely cannot work without. Here’s how.

Back up Chrome extension

In order to back up a Chrome extension, it must still be available in the Chrome web store. That is where you will download the file from. In order to download an extension from the Chrome web store and not install it automatically, you need to install the Get CRX extension from the Chrome web store.

Once installed, navigate to the Chrome web store page of the extension you want to back up. Click the Get CRX extension’s button next to the URL bar and select the ‘Get CRX of this extension’ option from the context menu. CRX is the file format for Chrome extension files.

Select where you want to save the file, and it will download in a few seconds. This CRX file can now be installed and you no longer need to visit the Chrome web store page for it.

Install a CRX file

To install the extension that you backed up, navigate to the CRX file and use any archiving utility to extract it. Don’t worry that it is not a ZIP or RAR file. Once it has been extracted, open Chrome and click the more options menu at the top right. Select More Tools>Extensions.

On the Extensions page, enable Developer mode. Next, click the Load Unpacked button and select the folder that the extension was extracted to. The extension will be installed.

It’s worth mentioning that these extensions won’t update automatically. If you want them to update automatically, you will have to install them from the Chrome Web Store. This method should only be used if you’re afraid an extension might be removed from the store and you will lose access to it. Remember that some extensions might be pulled from the store if they pose a security risk and if you continue to use it via the back up you took, you are putting yourself at risk as well.

Finally, using this method to get an extension, repacking and redistributing it is not only unethical but also a crime.

Read How to back up a Chrome extension by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to change a Firefox preference value

Firefox is a modern web browser with an extensive list of features and quite a few customization options. End users can customize how the browser works via its Options window however, Firefox has other settings that users can change from its about:config page. This page lists settings that are otherwise inaccessible from the main settings’ panel. Here’s how you can change a Firefox preference value.

Firefox preference page

Open Firefox and in the URL bar, enter the following;

about:config

Tap Enter and you will see warning telling you that if you tamper with the settings on the next page, you might void your ‘warranty’. This basically means Mozilla isn’t responsible if the browser crashes or if you happen to lose anything as a result of the crash. It also means that if you disable any security setting, and as a result, your data is stolen, the browser isn’t responsible. Accept the warning and you’ll be taken to the Firefox preference page.

Change preference value

The preference page, as you will see, is long and the preferences don’t have user friendly names. This means that if you intend to change a Firefox preference, you should already know what it’s called. New preferences are added to the browser as it updates over time and some preferences may also be removed.

Preference value

In order to change a Firefox preference, you must first know what kind of values it is capable of holding. Preferences hold two different types of values.

A preference can have one of the following values;

0 = Allowed

1 = Blocked

2 = Prompt

If you set the value of a preference to 0, whatever feature it controls will be enabled. If you set its value to 1, the feature will be blocked. If you set the value to 2, you will be asked if you want to run the feature.

The second type of value a preference can have is either True or False. This is far easier to understand and it is mostly for services instead of features e.g., is a certain service allowed to run in your browser.

Changing values

Double click a preference. If a value data box opens, it means you’re dealing with the first type of preference that can hold three different values. Enter the one you want to set for it. If a preference’s default value is either true or false, double-clicking it will change it.

Reset values

Any time you want to reset a Firefox preference back to its default value, right-click it and select Reset from the context menu. If a preference is in bold text, it means that it is not set to its default value. Preferences in normal, non-bold text are all in their default states.

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How to force Chrome to prioritize URLs over search terms

Chrome remembers what terms you’ve recently searched for. It’s been able to do this for quite a while. The URL bar, or the omnibar, in Chrome can look up your recent searches, frequently visited URLs, and bookmarks. Lately, Chrome has begun to prioritize searches over URLs. This means that if you recently searched for ‘yeti pictures’ and later type in Y in the URL bar expecting the first result to be YouTube, you’re instead going to get ‘Yeti pictures’ as the first option. YouTube will likely be in the list of suggestions, just further down. This is a bug. Here’s how you can force Chrome to prioritize URLs over search terms.

Force Chrome to prioritize URLs over searches

Open Chrome and in the URL bar, enter the following;

chrome://flags

Tap enter to go to the Chrome Flags page. Use the search bar at the top to look for a flag called “Omnibox Google Drive Document Suggestions”. Open the dropdown next to it, and select Disabled from the menu. Relaunch Chrome and it should start prioritizing URLs over search results.

This is a bug, not a feature. If you decide to set the value of this flag to Enabled, Chrome will not start to prioritize search results over URLs. It doesn’t work both ways. This flag is meant to show items from your Google Drive when you search in the URL bar in Chrome. For some reason, it fixes whatever is causing the bug.

The bug doesn’t effect all users but it does seem to effect a good number of them. It’s possible it might fix itself if you reset Chrome or do a clean install of the browser however, if you’re not willing to try that at the risk that it may not work, this fix really is the best option.

An update to the browser may fix the problem as well. If this flag doesn’t do the trick, wait a few weeks for the next Chrome update to arrive. It is possible that a simple update will do the trick. Google hasn’t acknowledged this bug so the next update isn’t likely going to contain an explicit fix for it but an update may fix whatever is broken.

If you’re looking for a way to remove a search result altogether from the omnibox, regardless of what order it appears in, you can do so by tapping the Shift+Delete key on your keyboard with the search term highlighted. If you search for the same term again though, it will return and you will have to remove it again.

Read How to force Chrome to prioritize URLs over search terms by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to close the Chrome Downloads bar with a hotkey

Chrome’s download bar is an odd element of the browser’s UI which otherwise focuses on being minimal. It appears when you download a file, and sticks around even after the download is complete. You can close it by clicking the close button but that is something that annoys users since there’s no hotkey to do the trick. You can hide the Chrome Downloads bar if you want, but if you really prefer to close the Chrome Downloads bar, an extension called Close download bar will let you do it with a hotkey.

Ideally, Chrome users would prefer the Downloads bar dismiss itself when a download is complete. Unfortunately, Google is not interested in adding this feature any time soon and extensions aren’t able to do the job either. This is possibly because Google blocks it which is why a hotkey to close the Chrome Downloads bar is our best option.

Close Chrome Downloads bar

Download Close download bar from the Chrome Web Store.

When the downloads bar appears, tap the Alt+W and it will close the Downloads bar. You can tap the hotkey any time you want, even if a file or multiple files are downloading since that is the default behavior of the Downloads bar.

Close download bar doesn’t have a lot of options however, it does let you change the hotkey that you use to close the Chrome Downloads bar. To change the hotkey, right-click the extension’s icon and select Options from the context menu.

It will take you to the extension’s Chrome page with the a pop up that lets you change the hotkey. Click the Change option and record the new hotkey that you want to use. Record it for the ‘Close download bar’ option and not for the ‘Activate the extension’ option.

Users have wanted a way to auto-dismiss the Downloads bar for a long time. In fact, if you check Google’s product forums, you find users regularly asking for ways to do this over the past few years. Google and Chrome’s product team don’t really offer explanations as to why this isn’t something they might consider so users are stuck with what they have.

Firefox does this much better than Chrome. Instead of an entire bar at the bottom, it has a little button next to the URL bar which, when clicked, reveals the downloaded files. You can mimic this in Chrome with an extension called Download Manager which disables the Downloads bar.

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How to play classic Minecraft in a browser

Minecraft turned 10 this year and in celebration, Mojang not only offered a reasonable discount for the game which is something that never happens, but also released classic Minecraft for free. Classic Minecraft is Minecraft when it was first developed. It was basic, to say the least. You had very few blocks to build with and, unfortunately, no evil mobs to fight off. Here’s how you can play classic Minecrafft in a browser.

Play Classic Minecraft

Classic Minecraft has limitations, as you can guess. For one, you cannot save a game, you can’t use your usual Minecraft/Mojang/Microsoft account to login, you cannot join any existing server games, and basically anything to do with your main account will not work with it.

You need a fairly modern browser for this. Chrome and Firefox will do. You need a keyboard and a mouse to play. Even if you have a game controller connected to your system, it will not work with the game.

You can play together with up to nine players, and you can have a small, medium, or huge map to play on. Visit this page, and it will generate a new game for you. Enter a nickname for yourself. The game will give you a link that you can share with your friends and invite them to play the same game.

You get a brief overview of the controls and since they’re basic, there isn’t much for you to learn. There are no tools so items all ‘break’ with one click, and are similarly placed with another.

The WASD keys are used for movement, the Spacebar for jumping, and F for toggling fog.

While this isn’t going to take as much toll on your system as the actual game played as a desktop app, it’s still going to consume lots of RAM through your browser. It’s a good idea to make sure nothing on your system is consuming too much RAM. Close other tabs when you play.

We’ll be honest; this isn’t a super-immersive experience. You won’t be playing for hours. It’s a bit of nostalgia which is good in moderation. You’re basically playing the game in creative mode; you can build what you want with whatever blocks are available to you. If your friends join in, you can build together.

If you initiate a game, and leave it when there are no other players in the game, the game will be lost/end. If there are other players in the game, you can rejoin it by visiting its link.

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