Beyond Google: 5 Chrome extensions that give you search superpowers


Chrome running on MacOS.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Most people believe Google is enough — type your search string into the address bar, hit enter, and comb through the results. 

What if I told you that there were better ways to search using Google Chrome? With the help of a few simple extensions, you can extend and simplify the search process right from your browser.

Also: 5 ways to declutter your Chrome browser – and take back control of your tab life

For those who’ve never installed an extension in Chrome, it’s simple:

  1. Go to the extensions page in the Chrome Web Store.
  2. Click Install.
  3. When prompted, click Add Extension.

Before I continue, a word of warning: While searching for these extensions, I found several add-ons in the Chrome Web Store that were not verified by Google. Because some extensions require access to your Google account to function, I won’t recommend any option that has not been verified. You do not want your account information compromised! Therefore, even if an extension looks like it’s exactly what you’re looking for, if it’s not verified, featured, or doesn’t have a decent amount of positive reviews, avoid it.

Similarly, if you filter extensions by either “Featured extensions” or “Established publishers,” you can trust that any extension listed is Verified.

With that in mind, here are a few extensions I’ve found and used that can enhance your search experience.

1. Search YouTube

Sure, you can add YouTube as a site search in Chrome’s settings, but a handy extension called Search YouTube makes this a bit easier. Once installed, the Search YouTube extension adds a right-click menu entry so all you have to do is highlight a string of text on a webpage, right-click your mouse (or double-finger-tap your trackpad), and select Search YouTube for “X” (where X is your search string).

Also: How to download YouTube videos for free, plus two other methods

You can also pin the YouTube icon to your toolbar extension section. Click that icon to go directly to YouTube. This featured extension doesn’t offer much more than that, but if you search YouTube often, it comes in handy.

You can install this free extension from the Chrome Web Store.

The Search YouTube Chrome extension.

Searching on YouTube is simple with this extension.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Simple = Select + Search

The Simple = Select + Search extension is incredibly handy. Once you’ve installed it, you can select a text string on a webpage, right-click your mouse, click “Search X on…” (where X is the search string), and select which search engine you want to use. You can even choose “Search Everywhere” and the extension will open a tab for each search engine you’ve configured.

Configuring search engines in the extension is as simple as combing through the Featured Search Engines section and clicking the options you want to add. Once added, they’ll appear in the right-click menu for quick and easy searching.

You can install this free extension from the Chrome Web Store.

The Simple = Select + Search Chrome extension.

This extension makes searching simple.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Search All Tabs 

If you frequently work with several tabs open and wish you had the means to easily search each one, Search All Tabs is what you’re looking for. This extension adds powerful context searching that quickly finds the tab you’re looking for, based on your search criteria.

Also: Google names its 11 favorite Chrome extensions. Which have you tried?

You can search via hostname, title, mime, URL, filename, language, keyword, and description. I’ve found the keyword search very handy. For example, I can have 20 or so tabs open, click the Search All Tabs button, type my name, and every relevant tab will be listed. This extension can also copy all URLs to your PC clipboard, group all matched tabs in a new window, search within PDF tabs, and more. If you consistently work with a lot of open tabs, this extension is a must.

You can install this free extension from the Chrome Web Store.

The Search All Tabs Chrome extension.

If you’re a tab power user, you’ll want this extension.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is a must if you’re looking to improve your privacy. Not only does this extension give you quick access to the DuckDuckGo search engine, but it also adds protections such as encryption, tracking request blocking, and third-party request monitoring.

Also: DuckDuckGo’s encrypted syncing brings private browsing to all your devices

Although this isn’t specifically a search engine extension, I included it here because it enables you to access the DuckDuckGo private search engine without using the Chrome address bar. You can leave your default search engine as is and still use DuckDuckGo, without first having to navigate to and then running your search. Besides, the additional security features certainly don’t hurt.

You can install this free extension from the Chrome Web Store.

The DuckDuckGo Chrome extension.

DuckDuckGo is a must-have extension for Chrome users concerned about privacy.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

5. Search by Image

If you regularly see an image online and want to search for either its location or relevant information, you’ll want to try Search By Image. With this extension installed, right-click the image, click Search By Image, and select the search engine you want to use.

Also: The best AI image generators to try right now

You can also select to search with all search engines or open the image in a new tab. From the options page for the extension, you can customize which search engines to include, what you would like to see in the context menu, theme the menu, and enable/disable a few other options (such as open new tabs in the background and use deep search when selecting images). 

You can install this free extension from the Chrome Web Store.

The Search By Image Chrome Extension.

If you frequently search for image location or relevant information, this extension will come in handy.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Any one of these extensions will help make your Chrome searching easier and more powerful. If Chrome is your default web browser, I would highly recommend giving one or more of these a try.

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