If you don’t know Google Drive, you should. It’s one of the few purely perfect (or damn close) Web services out there—enough so that PCMag gave it a perfect 5-star score in our review. This combo of productivity suite with word processer (Docs), spreadsheet (Sheets), and presentations (Slides), coupled with online storage and file syncing between PCs and mobile devices has quickly become an excellent collaborative tool for any home or office.
And it’s all free if you only use the baseline 15GB of online storage. You can upgrade the storage for personal use or upgrade to a business-oriented version of Google Drive called Google Apps for Work, which incorporates even more Google tools, like Gmail and Google Calendar, under your business’s domain name.
Naturally, all this great Google stuff works particularly well in the company’s Chrome browser. It’s no longer our absolute favorite browser (thanks to major upgrades in Firefox), but Chrome definitely has a following. And with a plug-in architecture, it’s got plenty of add-ons and extensions available in the Chrome Web Store. Naturally, a lot of these work directly with Google Drive. Here’s a look at the extensions you should consider.
Checker Plus for Google Drive
Checker Plus is a must for its extensions that work with Gmail, Google Calendar, and of course, Google Drive. From a single icon on the Chrome toolbar you get full access to every file you have stored on Drive—plus your images on Google Photos as well. There’s no faster way to search and browse your files without going to Drive site itself.
This developer has not one but about eight amazing add-ons for Google Sheets, including a duplicate remover, merge sheets, merge values, advanced find and replace, random number generator, and more. You pay for these same extra for Microsoft Excel, so enjoy the cost of free.
Save to Google Drive
It’s not always as easy as it should be to add to Google Drive—especially if you see something online that needs storing. This extension can stick the content of an entire webpage or just individual elements like texts and images, directly into your Google Drive for later access. Yes, it’ll even handle PDFs, Microsoft Office documents (automatically converting them to Doc/Sheets/Slides format if you desire), even audio and video. All you need to do is right-click or hold-click the item in question and select “Save to Google Drive,” naturally.
Faxing is the most antiquated, ridiculous “technology” still in heavy use today. If you’re stuck still sending documents this way—even docs in Google Drive—you probably should invest in a HelloFax account. Luckily, if your fax needs are light, you get to send 50 free pages in the first six months of using it, directly from Google Drive to whatever land-line nightmare is on the other end. Base price is $10 a month to send 300 pages per month.
You may already know DocuSign as a primo way of signing electronic documents. This extension brings that signing function fully into Google Docs (and Gmail). With the extension alone, you get free unlimited signings if it’s just you, then you upgrade if anyone else has to sign. Base cost is $10 a month for five signatures.
Got multiple Google Drive accounts? Or just want to move everything from one to another for a not-so-clean break? It’s a pain without this extension. It helps you transfer all the files from one account to the other (sans sharing settings).
Music Player for Google Drive
If you store a lot of audio files like MP3s, AACs, OGG, or WAV in your Google Drive account, you don’t have to download them again to listen to them. This extension puts a player right in the browser. It even uses the assigned ID3 tags and displays album cover art.
Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides
You can store almost any file in Google Drive, but if it’s a Word Doc, it can’t be opened with Google Docs without getting converted to Google Docs format. UNLESS…you install this extension. It lets you open and edit and save DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, and PPTX files without permanently converting to Google’s format—but that is an option. (AwesomeDrive is another popular option with the same features.)
Google Drive Quick Create
About as ultra-simple as it gets: This extension sticks an icon on the Chrome toolbar, and with a click opens a blank doc, sheet, slide, or drawing space in Google Drive.
Wondering about that last change you made to a Google Doc? It’s possible to look up the revision history, but Draftback makes it a breeze, essentially playing back all your changes for you, keystroke by keystroke. Here’s how. You can even make the playback public to play on a site, showing the whole writing process.
Google Drive Plug-in for Microsoft Office
This one is a cheat—it’s not really for Chrome—but worth mentioning. This is a download you install that runs in Microsoft Office itself—but makes it easy to save, edit, and share MS Office documents that you have shared in Google Drive. Making the files in Drive into attachments on Outlook messages is an option. It even lets you move files around in Drive, all while using Word or Excel on the desktop. Note that you can only use it to open/edit MS Office files—try to open a Google Doc/Sheets/Slides file from within Office, and it’ll just open the file in the browser. It won’t convert it for editing. (For that, you have to go into Google Drive, select a file, then download it. That will convert it to MS Office format.
This does a quick look at your Google Drive contents and spits out a chart showing you just what’s in there taking up space. It’s more a Web service than an add-on for Chrome—you can even use it in other browsers. Just give it permission and it’ll check the stats.