Minimalist surfing with chrome

A few months ago, I did a post about minimalist web surfing. Back then, my primary browser was Firefox, although I was using Chrome intermittently.

Since Chrome released extension support, I’ve fully switched over and have been happy with Chrome for a few months now. Here are the extensions I use to keep surfing minimal.

1. AdThwart. A very intuitive ad blocker. With this extension you can also block particular elements of a page, even if they’re not ads. For example, I like to block chat/twitter boxes from sites, as well as wordy sidebars and footers. I’ve even managed to block the Facebook ‘Like’ button from websites by adding my own filter in the options menu.

2. StayFocusd. This extension does a pretty good job at keeping surfing time to a minimum by making it hard to change the amount of time you’ve allowed yourself to diverge for a day. During my exams, I let myself have 8 minutes maximum per day on sites such as facebook. If I wanted to increase it or went over it would kindly remind me that I have better things to do!

3. Simplified Gmail. Behold the minimalist glory:

Unlike HelvetiMail for Firefox (below), Minimalist Gmail actually get’s rid of even more buttons as well as the header at the top of the page. The search bar appears only when you hover over it. You can also use your own custom theme (I chose white and blue).

^ Not-as-minimalist gmail in Firefox

4. For Google Reader users you have the choice of Google Reader Compact which gets rid of all the extra text, Lucidica which changes the (ugly) default blue theme for a minimalistic white or Helvetireader 2 which goes bare minimal with a silver theme. Personally, I recommend Lucida, not because I need the buttons that Helvetireader gets rid of, but because it’s better looking. Shallow, I know 🙂

^ Original Google Reader

^ Google Reader Compact extension

^ Lucidica extension

^ HelvetiReader 2 extension

Just a quick note about going minimal with browsing, you’ll probably have to learn a few keyboard shortcuts to do the kind of things that the buttons were there for, but in my experience just learning one or two is enough, I haven’t run into problems at all because of this.

Have you got any more ideas? I would love to hear your tips to make surfing more minimal!

Update: For gmail and Google calendar I now use Minimalist for Everything (Chrome) and for Google Reader I use Reeder for Chrome. Beautiful!

  • Eli

    Seems like you would enjoy Readability as well.

    I love it for when I need to read a long article and there are way too many distractions on the page. It removes everything from the page, leaving only the main text. Doesn’t work every time, since it depends on how each website is structured, but it is worth the try.

    • minimalstudent

      Oh. My. Goodness! I can’t believe I never heard of it before now! It looks really helpful for a bunch of sites I use, thank you so much Eli, I owe you one! 🙂

  • Sam

    Very good looking Google services you got there. I think by default Google Chrome is a lot better browser than Firefox.

    However, I find FF easier to configure. I have my setup here with just 2 add-ons I can do this to any site in the web:

    I know it’s about personal preference but I prefer to not have Windows title bars but instead my FF location bar and menus in same bar with resize/maximize/minimize buttons. Fastest wway to get to your favorite site is to press one hotkey 😉

  • Aberinkulas

    Lucidia is a wondrous addon; thank you very much.

  • One thing that i would advise is the use of adblock plus, and flashblock/noscript (or equivalents for your browser). This combination removes all the animated adds from 99% of websites. making it vastly easier to read the content.

    There are also some outher things which can be done to improve the browsing experience which i covered in a few of my old Blog posts:


  • This is nothing special but I do prefer utilizing while on the computer in place of the add-ons. (I still love Minimalist Gmail!!)

    • Hey McKai E.

      Thanks for letting me know about that! I never knew about it so I tried it on my kindle’s browser and it works a treat. It loads much faster than the original page, without the need for extensions which the kindle can’t handle. It’s perfect, thanks for the tip 🙂

  • Hini

    I have found a new and better extension for Gmail and Google Calendar. It’s called Minimalist Gmail :
    As I was a happy user of the extensions you recommended in june, I thought I would let you know.

  • Elisa Barindelli

    Hi Jessica, nice the article!
    I recently developed a Chrome minimal extension and would be glad to know what you think of it.

    MiniNotes: minimal notepad integrated in Chrome.