How To Use Edge Browser Extensions


Extensions For Edge Browser

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The title might be a bit misleading because until the new version of MS Edge is released there are no extensions but get ready, they are on their way.

While you might not have the ability yet, it is still great news that Microsoft has finally introduced the ability to add Extensions into the Edge Browser for Insider Previews. This obviously means it will be featured in a release to the general population soon. A lot of people wondered why they were not included in the original release and a big reason appears to have been concerns about security.

As helpful as extensions are (eg, Password Managers, Ad Blockers, and many other very useful extensions) they have one thing in common– they are a potential doorway for malicious software. Microsoft claims that, “…our extensions will be vetted, delivered and managed through the Windows Store.” Presumably to keep us all safe while surfing.

In the latest release for Insider Previews 14291, Edge now has three available extensions.

Install and Use Edge Extensions

Edge "more" menuIn this post we will walk through the current process of getting, installing and using extensions.There will be some minor changes in the final release. For example, it appears the only option to be offered in its final release will be getting the  extensions in the Windows Store, but for now this is how they will work…


Open Edge and click on the “…” button in the upper right side. That is the “more” button. It will open a drop down menu containing the new feature. Click on “Extensions” and a new sub-menu will appear offering you a chance to get and then load extensions. It will open a webpage (soon the MS Store) and will give you a list of available extensions. In the initial release there are only three available.

List of New Edge ExtensionsSelect the extension you wish and then load it into Edge. Now when you click on Extensions the loaded extensions will appear with logo and name. In addition, the installation will place Icons on your toolbar depending on the type of extension. The Mouse Gestures will always appear while turned on. Microsoft Translator will only appear when a page needs to be translated and the Reddit extension will only appear while you are on www.Reddit.com.

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Edge Extensions Shown on the Toolbar

Mouse Gestures

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This is actually a pretty cool feature that will allow you to open and close tabs, go back or forward through webpages and scroll partially or completely to the top or bottom of a page.  I have tried each of the Gestures and they work very well.  You may change the preset meaning of any particular gesture in the Mouse Gesture Settings Menu.

Once the Mouse Gesture is a part of your toolbar you may right click on the webpage and perform a gesture that has a predefined meaning. For example, right click and draw a V on the screen and you will scroll to the bottom of the page. Right click and move the mouse left and you will go back one page. Right now, because of years of use, it is easier for me to click on long remembered options but with a little time I am sure it will be just as easy.  This image shows the 14 preset gestures.

Microsoft Translator

Web translators have been around for a while so this feature is not new. It is, however, different and I like how quickly and conveniently it will translate a page. The translator icon does not appear in the tool bar unless the language is different than the one selected while setting up Windows. To test the translator I opened a French version of Google. I personally like reading a foreign perspective on some topics; it gives me a feeling of how a topic is felt and defined by other nations. Simply click on the Translator button and the page is now in English. It reads well and, as far as I can tell, it does not appear to transpose text to match the syntax of another language. As I said, fast and easy.


Reddit Enhancement Suite

The third and final extension available at this time is only for those of us that use Reddit. If you are not familiar with this website, you can visit Reddit reddit-enhancement-suite-viewhere. Perhaps Reddit and their little alien icon are worth a post by themselves.

As useful and as much fun as Reddit can be to use, it is equally confusing to use and navigate. It is easy to get lost with the incredible amount of information and sub-pages it has. This is where the Reddit Enhancement Tool comes in.  It makes life on Reddit a lot easier by doing some of the organizing for you.

Summary

I believe the Windows Edge browser is certainly one of the best browsers out there. At least in terms of speed, performance and security. There are several test results out there that you can access but I thought I would perform some on my primary computer. I tested my download speed and it remained steady at 62Mps. I then used “Jet Stream” which is a JavaScript benchmark suite focused on the most advanced web applications. It has several tests for both Latency and Throughput. In the results the higher the number the better.

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I conducted several tests and the results varied a little but the percentages stayed pretty much the same. Edge clearly has the “edge” in speed. As fast as it is, it’s still quite obvious that Edge is not where it needs to be and will not get there until they can demonstrate their ability to build successful extensions. If they can jump that hurdle they will become the dominant player in the browser field.

Microsoft has made their fair share of missteps in past releases. Therefore, I don’t mind them taking their time to get it right. Edge was released without extensions because they could not be competently done in time for the release of Windows 10. Instead of releasing an inferior version that was able to use extensions, they waited to include them until they could do it correctly. I will conclude that the three extensions work exactly as expected, but unless they manage to include extensions we currently use on other browsers, they will not have succeeded.

Jim

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About the Author

Jim Canfield

My interest in computers was a natural transition from all things electronics. I was hooked after building my first Heathkit computer around 1976, which evolved into a TSR80 and a long list of Windows computers. My first full blown program was a graphics program which started my career path in graphic design and IT work for 40 years. I now run a small computer repair and service company focused on helping veterans and retirees in our area with computer and software training classes.

4 Comments

  1. Sorry Jim, Being badly burned by Edge in the beginning is not going to get me using it in the future. It came out lacking basic features so now I restrict my use to Windows help. Then later on I got hit with some kind of advertising bug that attacked all my browsers. I worked for two days with different solutions to rid my PC of this scourge. I was able to clear Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Not Edge! Hell, I cannot even delete the program and do a clean install.
    Microsoft has a long road to go before I will consider Edge a good alternative to any other browser out there. Some minor speed difference is not going to cut it.

    • Tom, obviously if you had a bad experience it is understandable. I know it is not a finished product yet and yes it still has some growing in a lot of areas like adblock ability, along with obvious other areas. The speed and security are right now offset by the lack of other features but like I mentioned, Edge was released before it’s time because it is an integral part of Cortana and my belief in the future of Cortana is absolute. I am fooling around with it in the latest build and it is impressive. It will be the go to combination if not next year then the year after. The best part in my opinion, is that individuals like yourself don’t have to use it today Just sit back and wait. On a side note: I just read that Firefox is coming along with their new “Web Extension”s they started in August that will work the same way as extensions in Chrome and Opera.

  2. I recently did a clean install of Windows 10 on my laptop and am pretty impressed thus far. But unless the situation has changed, it is my understanding Sandboxie and Edge do not play well together and are incompatible as noted here: http://www.sandboxie.com/index.php?KnownConflicts#Windows%2010

    I thought Edge was cool for the short period of time I used it. But, given the choice between using sandboxed versions of other browsers such as Firefox (my personal favorite) or IE versus an unsandboxed version of Edge, the former option wins hands down.

    • Midwest you are absolutely correct, I use the commercial version of sandboxie. Edge and Outlook do not run in it yet. As a tech writer I use Edge to check for all inconsistencies and know where I am going on the web. However, when I do research on a product I use Chrome. just so I can run it sandboxed. To be fair, Edge performs it own sandbox while running javascript. In that regard it is already ahead of the pack, however, I don’t know when they will be compatible third party sandbox programs. When I use a normal version of Win 10 Pro it is 10586, like most people. During my insider builds I am running 14316, that is a lot of builds apart and it still does not run sandboxed but I have faith they will get there and become compatible with sandboxie or if not MS will probably have Edge perform its own sandbox.