Over the last few weeks, Google Chrome has rolled out Version 49, which contains a major change in the way extension icons are displayed in the upper right corner of your browser window.
I was updated two weeks ago, and initially I hated it. I’ve changed my tune, because (without fanfare) they tucked in a long overdue feature. The result is, ironically enough, a much cleaner toolbar, if you prefer your extensions with keyboard shortcuts (and really you should) I’ll get to that in a bit. First some background.
Why the change?
In one word: Visibility. Some applications will “side load” extensions without your knowledge. The Chrome developers also know many users don’t visit their chrome://extensions page very often (if at all), and are unaware of what is lurking, and potentially wasting resources.
What is the change?
Initially, Chrome 49 moves all extension icons to the toolbar forcing you to deal with them. It’s pretty easy to show and hide them as you see fit. You can right click on an icon and select “Hide in Chrome menu”. Hidden icons aren’t all that hidden. They now appear at the top of the menu when you click the ⋮
hamburger icon. You can also drag an icon onto the ⋮ Hamburger icon and then drag it to the top of the menu… and vice versa.
I’ve grown to like this setup. With a right click, you get quick access to extension options without the need to scroll through a list of extensions. Only enabled extensions appear in the menu however, so to access disabled extensions you’ll still need to type chrome://extensions into the addressbar, or click on More Tools > Extensions in the menu.
Which extensions should I hide?
To clarify things, let’s break Chrome extensions into 3 groups:
Browser Action, Page Action & Other
- The icons to the right of the Omnibar… the ones you are used to seeing.
- They are active on any web page you visit.
- You can assign keyboard shortcuts to them.
- Browser Actions get the long overdue feature. You can now assign keyboard shortcuts AND hide the icon. Before, when you hid a Browser Action icon, you disabled the keyboard shortcut. This never made any sense. If you are keyboard ninja and a toolbar minimalist, Chrome 49 will make you happy.
- Of course, you can still keep them visible AND have keyboard access too.
- Browser Actions may show status with an animated icon or badge, in which case you probably want to keep those visible.
- Pre-Chrome 49, these icons appeared in the Omnibar when certain rules, defined by the extension, were met.
- For example, they appeared only when visiting a certain domain, or if an RSS feed was available.
- Chrome 49’s biggest effect is on Page Action icons, moving them to the right with Browser Action icons.
- Now they always show regardless of whether those conditions are met. (if not met the icon is grayed out)
- This is a big step backwards, adding needless clutter to the toolbar, imho.
- The best choice for Page Action extensions? Show them.
- Everything else.
- Pre-Chrome 49 these were only accessible by visiting chrome://extensions.
- Hide ’em all.
Happy hiding, Chromians!
UPDATE: WorkFlowy remembers the expand/collapse state of your last view for each bullet, and that’s a nice thing. This post has been updated with a new method that will not alter these expand/collapse states.
I recommend you read all the instructions before clicking the search link in Step #1.
This will enter last-changed:10000d in WorkFlowy’s home page search box, finding every bullet you’ve edited or created in the last 10,000 days. That should cover things. Have some patience, it may take a few seconds to render your last 27 years of work.
2) Type Ctrl+A twice to select all bullets (use Cmd for Mac).
3) Look at the right pop up menu to revel in your bullet proclivity.
4) Press Esc to clear the search.
* The last-changed: search operator automatically toggles to Completed:Visible. If you want to count only incomplete bullets, click the toolbar to toggle back to Completed:Hidden and repeat Step #2.
Bonus Tip: Count all the bullets under a single bullet
- Zoom on the bullet
last-changed:10000d in the search box
- Press Tab to move focus away from the Search box
- Repeat from Step #2.
WorkFlowy has added a “click to download” option to the Export List form. In addition to the old method of manually copying (& pasting), you now have the option to download a file with a single click. Nice.
Every picture tells a story…
To access Export, hover over any bullet:
Ask WorkFlowy users what new features they want, and reminders is usually near the top of the list. With iOS 9, Siri gets some new functionality that makes creating WorkFlowy reminders a snap.
To use this tip you need to view WorkFlowy in iOS Safari and not the app. In iOS, there are lots of good reasons to use Safari for WorkFlowy (alongside the app), but that is a future blog post.
Here are the intricate instructions:
- In Safari, zoom on the WorkFlowy bullet you want to be reminded about.
- Tell Siri: “Remind me about this tomorrow 9 am”
- When the reminder sounds, simply tap the Safari icon to jump to the WorkFlowy bullet.
WorkFlowy offers an excellent Chrome App, and it’s popular… 230,000+ users according to the Chrome Web Store. There is good reason for the popularity:
- Offline support: A requirement if your internet connection is patchy or non-existent.
- Focus: WorkFlowy is all about focus. The app offers a clean window with no bookmarks bar, no address bar, and no tabs to distract you.
- Workflow: some users simply prefer a separate window vs keeping a tab open in the browser.
So, What is “WorkFlowy Window”?
Confession: It’s a name I made up… for a feature already baked into Chrome. If you are a Chrome-ninja, you probably already know about it. But I suspect many non-ninjas (and even some ninjas) may not be aware of some compelling advantages WorkFlowy Window offers over the Chrome app.
First, let’s talk about what WorkFlowy Window can’t do, and it’s a biggie: Offline. If your internet connection is reliably patchy or non-existent, you can stop reading. In fact, I still use the Chrome app, but only in offline situations.
The Compelling Advantages Stuff:
If your internet connection is non-patchy and reliably existent, and it’s the focus and workflow you desire, WorkFlowy Window gives you that and much more:
- Multiple instances: You can put WorkFlowy Windows side by side. While you can’t drag bullets between them, you can use the standard edit operations (including multi-edit) to copy, cut and paste bullets between the two.
- Custom Shortcuts: Speaking of multiple, you can setup custom shortcuts to launch instances into specific nodes… make one for “Work” and one for “Personal”.
- Chrome Extensions! That means Stylish, WorkFlowy To Google Calendar,
Clip To WorkFlowy, and WorkFindy to name a few. You can access most some extensions via keyboard shortcuts or the right click menu.
Update! Unfortunately, changes in Chrome 49 have neutered Chrome Extension keyboard shortcuts in Window mode. The Chrome gods giveth, and the Chrome gods taketh away.
- Copy Bullet URLs via right click on the bullet.
- Back/Forward Navigation via right click menu
- Find on Page via Ctrl+F (and Ctrl+G to quickly navigate through them)
- Increase/Decrease Font Size via Ctrl & +/-
- Search Google by selecting text, and right clicking
Sounds Good, How Do I Do This?
- Launch WorkFlowy in Chrome. (Zoom on a specific bullet if desired)
- Click the Chrome’s Customize icon (3 dots) in the upper right.
- Select More Tools > Add to desktop..
(No menu item? See instructions below)
- Name it as you like, leave Open as window checked, and click Add.
- Voila! Chrome creates a desktop shortcut to your shiny new WorkFlowy Window.
Windows Tip: If you want to pin this to your Windows Taskbar, launch the desktop shortcut, and pin that instance to the taskbar by right clicking on the icon.
How To Restore a Missing “Add to desktop” Menu:
- Enter ‘chrome://flags‘ into the address bar.
- Type Ctrl+F and search for ‘The new bookmark app system‘
(For languages other than English, search for translations of ‘bookmark’and scan the hits.)
- Click on the drop-down menu and change to Enabled or Default
- Click the RELAUNCH NOW button at the bottom
- Chrome will restart, and More tools > Add to desktop is restored.
Note: You may need to close Chrome and launch again for the change to take effect.
Alternate Method: WorkFlowy Bookmark
- Install WorkFlowy Bookmark from the Chrome Web Store
- Inside the Chrome App Launcher, right click on the shortcut and select “Open in window” and you’re done.
Note: With WorkFlowy Bookmark you will have a single shortcut launching to the home page, but you can launch multiple instances, unlike the Chrome App.
Alternate Method #2: Convert To Popup
Update 6/5/2017: This is now my preferred method for creating WorkFlowy Windows.
- Create WorkFlowy Windows instantly and on-demand with the Convert To Popup Chrome extension.
- Activate via the toolbar icon or keyboard shortcut to convert the current tab into a distraction-free window.
- Or right click on a WorkFlowy bullet (or any link) and select Open in Popup Window.
- Works on any tab or link, not just WorkFlowy.
(and how to fix it Windows)
Update 12/8/2015: WorkFlowy has changed these shortcuts for Windows users, but left them the same for Mac and Linux users. Chromebook users are reporting problems.
WorkFlowy has great keyboard shortcuts, including a handy hidden pair that allow you to quickly navigate between siblings in your WorkFlowy outline. They are great for reviewing a list of items, in all of WorkFlowy’s zoomed and focused splendor. And if you use WorkFlowy, you may have list or two to review.
Mac & Linux:
- Ctrl+Shift+0 goes down the list
- Ctrl+Shift+9 goes up the list
- Alt+Shift+0 goes down the list
- Alt+Shift+9 goes up the list
Let’s have GIF Master Frank of Do Way, Way More in WorkFlowy fame show you:
Warning! This pair is addictive.
If you use Windows you may discover Ctrl+Shift+0 doesn’t work, meaning you can only go “up” your list… and that pushes this tip into the “not so handy” column. Here’s how to fix it:
* Hit the Windows Key and type *”control”*
* Open the Control Panel desktop app
* Under: *Clock, Language, and Region* Click: *Change Input Methods*
* On the left Click: *Advanced settings*
* Under: *Switching input methods*, Click: *Change language bar hotkeys*
* With *Between input languages* selected, Click: *Change Key Sequence..*
* Click: both *Not Assigned* radio buttons, and Click: *OK*
* Click: *Apply* and *OK*
* Restart the computer
I use a lot of bookmarklets. They’re great for all sorts of tasks… but they have some drawbacks. First, they can eat up space on your bookmarks bar. To add insult to injury, Chrome offers exactly one option to customize the favicon: the blank page… which means you better name them and use more valuable space on your bookmarks bar. And you have to use the mouse to activate them. You can nest your less-used bookmarklets in folders to solve the first issue, but what about keyboard shortcuts?
There is an easy way to create keyboard shortcuts to bookmarklets (and websites) and it’s all built into Chrome without the need for extensions.
Let’s assume we have an existing bookmarklet on our bookmarks bar, and we’ll convert it to a keyboard shortcut and free up some space. For this example we’ll use a bookmarklet called “SiteSearch”. It searches the current site for any selected text, and with no selection it presents a prompt to enter your own site search terms.
If you want to play along at home, you can create your own SiteSearch bookmarklet by selecting all the code below, then dragging it to your bookmarks bar.
- Right click on the bookmarklet and select Edit to show this:
- With the Name field highlighted, hit tab to move to the URL field.
- With all the code in the URL field selected, copy it to the clipboard.
- Hit Cancel to close the edit form.
- Right Click on Address Bar and select Edit Search Engines.
- Scroll to the bottom of “Other Search Engines” until you see three empty boxes.
- Enter the bookmarklet name, SiteSearch in the first box
- Enter a keyword shortcut. In this case, I use ss because it’s fast to type.
- Paste the bookmarklet code into the URL box.
- Press Done, because.. well, you’re done.
How to use it:
- Press Alt+D (or Ctrl+L) to highlight the address bar
- Type your keyword ss. The first match will be the bookmarklet name.
- Press Enter. Boom! You just activated your SiteSearch bookmarklet with keyboard.