Gold plating Chrome
- Customised views
- Text to speech
- Speed reading/dyslexia support
There are quite a few extensions for the Google Chrome browser that can transform your web browsing experience. Some strip out visual clutter, some display the page headings structure on one side so you can jump straight to the part of the page you want, while others help you speed read text or read it out to you so you can listen to the printed word. These extensions can make life easier for anyone, whether you struggle to read text, learn better from hearing information instead of reading it, have tired eyes or need to multitask and so prefer to listen, or you learn best by reading and listening to something, separately or at the same time.
Here are some of the most popular and useful browser extensions and free apps:
Robobraille and OneNote
Robobraille excels at reliably turning files, web pages and even images of printed books, journals, newspapers and magazines that you might not want to or be easily able to read into more accessible formats, from plain text to mp3 audio files, allowing you to use your computer, phone or tablet to help you speed read it or have it read out loud to you.
Useful for anyone faced with a long but structured web page, it shows the page headings and sub-headings in a panel on one side and allows you to jump to any section on a long webpage by clicking on its heading. The heading list also helps you get a good idea of what a web page covers.
Offering higher contrast display options in a variety of colours, including a dark mode featuring light text on dark backgrounds since long before it was popular.
Removes distracting sidebars and most images, including advertisements, leaving only a simple column of text that is easier to read and free from distractions. On many websites, this change can be a relief for anyone.
Converts text to speech, so you can listen to website text from your browser.
An innovative way to speed read, SwiftRead (formerly Spreed) hides all the text on the page then shows you 1-3 words at a time centred on the page at a rate you choose. This helps most people read much faster, and can really help people with dyslexia who might otherwise struggle to read from a screen. It is also useful for anyone with a limited field of vision.
Totally unrelated fun fact – you used to be able to make the Chrome icon on your computer entirely gold with a simple hack because the developer version of Chrome used a golden icon and they left the image file behind in the published browser version. Back in 2011, HowToGeek described how to swap out your icon for the secret all gold version.
We’ve not had a chance to test whether this is still possible in the latest version of Chrome, but if you manage to get it to work we’d love to see! Please let us know in the comments below if this is still possible or better still share a screenshot with us (@uoplibrary) on Instagram – just please make sure you don’t accidentally share any personal details.