Write better texts with Grammarly

With Grammarly, your writing will improve dramatically. This browser extension grabs any information you type in your browser, checks it to an extensive database, and signals any segment in need of attention. Spelling, punctuation, grammar, it all gets a pass – or not, which is a good thing.

Features

  • Grammarly runs on many different platforms, not just in a browser. There are native apps for desktops and handheld devices (iPhone and Android).
  • Checks Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation, but also conciseness, and readability.
  • Premium features include a plagiarism checker, vocabulary enhancements, and more.

You can find more information on their premium page.

Benefits Grammarly

If you write in American, Canadian, or British English, this is the extension to install immediately. Also, if you write for the web and want to avoid the most obvious errors, you need to install this program. You’ll want to consider this, especially if you’re a lonesome blogger without a big editing team to assess your work. With Grammarly, you get some useful pointers with any text. It’s a genuinely fantastic program, especially with the premium features in place.

It integrates well with many browsers, but also with Microsoft Words, which is still the go-to solution for many writers. You install a small program, and then you get to use the same functionality of the extension, but natively in your word processor. Life couldn’t be better written down.

Drawbacks

The English language doesn’t always adhere to simple black-and-white rules, unfortunately. There are many grey areas where a writer has to opportunity to demonstrate her sense of style, her literary sensibility. With Grammarly, you get an absolute harmonization which might make your writing less erroneous, but maybe also less appealing. The punctuation favors a particular convention, even though an added comma might make a difference. You always get to accept or dismiss the suggestion the system gives you, of course. Still, I wonder if, in a few years, we might discover the Grammarly-effect in the shortlist of the next Man Booker Prize.

Alternatives

  • Prowritingaid (a complete suite of writing tools).
  • Whitesmoke (besides Grammar and Style checks, they also offer a translator).
  • Ginger (a complete grammar checker, including a learning center to make you a better writer).

You can find more alternatives to Grammarly on Hostingsprout.

Final verdict

There seem to be a few massive players on the market, that offer more intelligent feedback than the Spelling Checker you’ll find in the usual word processors. Moreover, since we write evermore online (Google Docs or WordPress), we need just the help that Grammarly offers. The price is quite steep, though (around $11), but still, we wouldn’t dare to write this blog post without it.

Evernote, the one place to keep everything

Evernote
Evernote

Evernote is one of the most useful note-taking services you can access with your browser. It’s excellent if you’re not only interested in surfing the web, but if you want to retain your research. It’s the second extension we’ve installed from the Chrome Web Store.

Benefits Evernote

Evernote aims to be a complete external memory solution, reliable like the mythical Elephants’ memory. Hence the logo. Anything you want to add to your electronic memory will be there forever: a handwritten note, an audio recording, a bookmark, or an article you’ve found online, and save with the extension. Just like with start.me you get more than an extension: it integrates a whole world into your Chrome browser.

Another huge advantage of Evernote is the way it integrates all devices and platforms. No matter the computer or smartphone, you can access the same data anywhere. And even when the number of notes amounts to a lot, you can still make sure it remains accessible. There’s a search function that even recognizes handwritten notes. You can organize notes into notebooks, into stacks. Even though it might take some time to understand the full depth of the product, you’ll find it’s worth it. And, did I mention that there’s a free tier too? Even if you’re strapped for cash, your notes will remain accessible.

Drawbacks Evernote

If I have to mention drawbacks to this product, it would be the fact that it can do so very much. You can make to-do lists, share notes with others, even integrate templates into your notebooks if you want to standardize your notes. We’re a long way from the simple notepad. As the product continues to evolve, it might just get too convoluted and complex.

One of the ways I tackle this problem is by integrating Evernote with IFTTT: the famous service that lets you design your own ‘recipes’, with triggers and processes. With it, I can finally take a note on the fly, clutter-free, and fast. It’s telling I feel the need to resort to this third-party service.

Final verdict

Intimidating, expansive, no longer the only player in town, with Microsoft OneNote, the Google Keep (free to use), and Notes by Apple, there are a lot of alternatives these days. Still, there’s no real competition, once you’ve started building your own Elephants Memory.

Brand new tab page by start.me

start.me page

 

 

start.me page

start.me is the first extension from the Chrome Web Store we present here. With it, you can add bookmarks and news feeds. It helps you to import all your bookmarks to your browser, sets the first page you load, as well as the new tab page.

Features

  • You get many basic widgets for free: unlimited bookmarks widgets, pages, news feeds, todo widget, notes.
  • Valuable PRO features, like a broken link checker, Google integration, Archived pages, and image gallery.
  • Teachers, business owners, or enterprises get advanced sharing and security options.
  • Fast loading experience.
  • Reliable Hosting in the cloud.
  • Accessible through any browser or device.
  • We love the modern, sleek design.
  • Fully personalizable.

Benefits start.me

start.me is a versatile product. You can use it to make a start page with bookmarks to all your favorite sites. Adding widgets with the Add content button is a breeze. There are a lot of curated RSS feeds to choose from, so you don't have to check different websites or open new tabs to stay on top of the news. You can also add notes widgets, todo lists, weather forecast information, and more. The basic widgets are free, as well as the number of pages you can use to organize your data.

The UX design of the site can be called minimalist, which is a good thing since there are many ways to personalize your pages. You can choose color schemes, add photo's or select images from a database, and change the appearance of bookmarks in your bookmarks widgets. It loads fast, especially on your homepage.

Drawbacks start.me

The many options start.me has to offer are both a strength and a weakness. If you don't personalize your homepage, you'll never really enjoy its main benefits: increased overview, productivity, information location. We see an apparent learning curve in this product: you have to invest some effort to get to know it thoroughly. It looks to us, that the developer's team is aware of this, as they offer both a tour and an onboarding process to help you to add valuable content to your page.

Pricing

start.me is a freemium product. There are four plans:

  • Basic: free to use. All essential widgets. Basic sharing options. Import and export your data.
  • PRO: $ 20 / year. Basic plan + premium widgets, archived pages, broken link checker.
  • Team: $ 30 / month, $ 300 / year. PRO plan + apply your branding, teams of up to 20 members, private sharing & collaboration.
  • Enterprise: custom pricing. Team plan + unlimited users, multiple teams, Single Sign-On.

You can find more information on their pricing page.

Alternatives to start.me

If you're looking for an alternative to start.me, there are many options. None of them are as versatile and powerful, but they're still worth your attention. This is the list we've tried ourselves:

  • Pinboard (a simple, text-based bookmark solution)
  • Netvibes (dashboard with bookmarks and 'web potions' functionality)
  • Protopage (free personalized start page)

You'll find more options with reviews on this site: New Tab Alternatives.

Final verdict

In the full New Tab extensions category, we consider start.me the most versatile, fastest, and most reliable option. A professional enterprise keeps on improving the product and offers responsive support in case of any problem. start.me is more than just an extension that runs locally, it's a gateway to an entire universe of bookmarks, news feeds, and smart widgets you can access from any browser or any device.

 

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Get Open Graph Preview to see your draft post

Open Graph Preview
Open Graph Preview

Open Graph Preview shows how people will see your site in a few popular social networks. It useful when you post to Facebook or Twitter, or to some Russia based social media platforms (vk.com or ok.ru).

Features

  • The app is free and designed by Pavel Rybin.
  • It also works with just the preview of your posts.
  • If you like it, you can donate a cup of coffee.
  • Over 15.000 developers use this extension.

Benefits Open Graph Preview

Anyone who wants to make sure their WordPress post is broadcast correctly to social media should use this extension. Before actually posting anything, so before you can use the Twitter Card validator or the Facebook Sharing Debugger, you want to make sure there are no real problems. That’s why you need this browser extension. You don’t want to share anything without making sure it’s perfect.

Drawbacks

In the review and the support section of this extension, you see a lot about the programming behind this extension. Pavel Rybin seems to be a lone developer, who managed to write a useful addition to the developer’s toolbox. He has to do this in his free time, which is remarkable. Still, with a bit more effort, and some more platforms added (like LinkedIn or Instagram), this extension might become a necessary tool for any blogger.

Alternatives

There are a few other options for this extension, but none of them are as complete and useful as OGP.

We should mention, however, that there are several free or paid automated services to post your pages or articles to the various social media platforms, who offer almost the same service. Like Buffer or Tweetdeck (just for Twitter). You’ll see the link, the featured image attached to the link you want to share, and more. For these solutions, you still need a live post, though.

Final verdict

The extension we feature here is one of the great examples of the value even a small team (or a single programmer) can add to the internet. In this case, Pavel Rybin has developed a unique, useful addition that should be useful for anyone blogging, or even for anyone browsing the Internet. Sure, it’s more like a developers tool (as categorized in the Chrome Web Store), but once you’ve published an article or post by error, you’ll quickly see you’ll need it.