What are Browser Extensions?

A common question people have is: what are browser extensions? And, why does my browser need extensions?

What exactly are they?

A browser is the software that you use to go on the Internet. Browser extensions are small software modules that add functionality to the browsers.

Popular browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari have access to a wide variety of extensions.

Browser extensions have many different purposes.

  • User interface modifications
  • Security
  • Ad blocking
  • Website styling and scripting
  • Cookie management
  • Spelling and Grammar checking

Keep in mind these are just a few examples and there are many other tasks a website extension can help users achieve. Also remember that these extensions only apply to browsers, and not other types of programs.

How to view extensions

Using Google Chrome as an example, press on the three dots at the top right of the browser and navigate to settings.

Within the settings click on the extensions tab on the bottom right.

Click this and see what extensions are installed in the browser. In this example there are two extensions installed and turned on. One comes default with Google Chrome for their office apps, and the other is an ad blocker.

Press on details to view information about the extension. This will cover everything from size, to permissions, to site access and much more.

If an extension isn’t working correctly, or if a user wants to simply turn one off without deleting it, toggle the blue switch on the bottom right.

Click remove to delete the extension entirely.

How to add extensions

Each browser will have a web store with a vast library of extensions.

On Google Chrome press the three lines on the top right and a button to open the Chrome Web Store will appear.

In the web store users can either search for a specific extension, or browse through each category.

To add the selected extension hit “add to chrome.”

It is also important to note the potential for malicious extensions. The same way malware can infect a computer’s system, malicious extensions can hijack browsers. Be sure to check the source of the extension. Read the reviews as well and check the number of downloads, as these are good indicators. Most webs stores scan extensions for malicious activity, but it’s always possible something can sneak through the cracks.

If you have specific questions, or if our terminology isn’t clear, please use our contact form to send us a message. Thank you!

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