A Brave New World for Edge
The anniversary update for Windows 10 included all kinds of new and innovative features. One such feature was the ability to add browser extensions to Microsoft Edge. With extensions, you can add all kinds of additional functionality to expand the capabilities of your browser and make you more productive when working online. So, here's what you need to know about working with with extensions in Microsoft Edge.
Adding Extensions to Edge
Adding extensions is not hard to do, but every browser does it a little bit differently. With Edge, Microsoft makes it easy for anyone to add the extensions they need. It all begins in the settings. Follow these steps to add extensions to your Edge browser.
- Open Microsoft Edge and click (or tap) the three dots in the top right-hand corner of your screen. This should open the menu bar on the right-hand side of your screen.
- Click, or tap, on the word Extensions.
- To see all the available extensions for Edge, click Get extensions from the Store.
- The Microsoft Store will open in a new window and show you a list of extensions for Microsoft Edge.
- Click on an extension to view screenshots and learn more about it.
- Click Free to install the extension.
- When the extension has been installed, click Launch to switch back to Edge.
- Click, or tap, the Turn it on notification that appears in the top right-hand corner of your screen.
Best Browser Extensions for Edge
Extensions are a relatively new addition to Edge, so there are not nearly as many to choose from compared to Chrome or Firefox. However, more are being developed and quality beats quantity every time. Here are five of my favorite extensions so far.
- Adblock - Ad blockers are not popular with the majority of website owners because they deprive companies of the revenue that they use to maintain their service. If we all used ad blockers, we would probably have to pay for a lot more of the internet than we do right now. That said, if you are looking for an ad blocker for Edge, this is a good one to use.
- OneNote Web Clipper - Microsoft's excellent note taking app has an extension that makes it quick and easy to add content you find from the web to your OneNote notebooks. Clip articles, recipes and more, then access them on all your devices.
- Save to Pocket - Pocket is a great service for saving web articles that you want to read later. If you save them with the Edge Pocket extension, you can access your reading list on the Pocket website or on mobile devices with the Pocket app.
- LastPass - Everybody hates passwords. We have more passwords today than we know what to do with, (or at least you should). Thankfully, there are password managers like LastPass to help us keep our sanity!
- Pinterest - With 100 million active users, Pinterest is a must-have for countless internet users. Adding the Pinterest extension for Edge lets you save and share all your favorite content with just a few clicks.
Bonus Pick: I don't use it very often, but the Translator for Microsoft Edge extension is a useful one to have when you come across a website that is written in a foreign language. The extension will quickly translate the text to English, or one of 50+ alternative languages, depending on your needs. The translations are not always amazingly accurate, but they are good enough to get the gist of what's going on.
How to Use an Edge Extension
Edge browser extensions can be used in different ways depending on the type of extension you download. Some just work silently in the background, so there is really nothing more you need to do with those to make them work. Adblock is an example of that kind of extension.
Other extensions only show up when you need them and will typically appear in the address bar. An example of that kind of extension would be the Translator for Microsoft Edge extension. When you browse to a website in a foreign language, the extension icon will appear in your address bar. Clicking it will give you the option to translate the page.
Other extensions like the OneNote Web Clipper are accessible by clicking, or tapping, on the three dots in the top right-hand corner of Edge. Clicking here reveals a drop-down menu and you will see those extensions listed at the top. Click the extension icon to activate it.
If you prefer your extensions to be more visible, go to the same three dot menu, click Extensions, then click on each of your installed extensions. You will see an option to Show button next to the address bar. Turning that option on will make the extension icons appear in the top right-hand corner of your browser, just like they do in other browsers like Firefox and Chrome.
How to Disable or Uninstall Edge Browser Extensions
Over time you will likely add a lot of extensions to Edge. However, if you want your browser to run as fast and smooth as it should, it is always a good idea to remove the ones you don't use, or turn off the ones you don't always need. Here's how to do it.
- Open Microsoft Edge and click the three dots in the top right-hand corner of your screen to open the menu bar.
- Click, or tap, on Extensions to see a list of installed extensions.
- Click on the extension you want to disable or uninstall.
- Click Uninstall to remove the extension, or slide the On switch to the left to disable the extension.
Problems With Edge Extensions
Technically, you can install Edge extensions from the Windows Store, as opposed to starting in Edge. However, the extensions can be kind of hard to find. Sometimes you can find them if you click Apps from the navigation menu and scroll down until you see a sub-category listed as Extensions for Microsoft Edge. However, in my experience, they are not always there and I am not sure why that is.
If you don't see them listed among Apps, the search bar in the Windows Store would seem like the next best place to look. However, this can also be problematic. For instance, there is a Last Pass app as well as a Last Pass extension, and at first glance it can be hard to see which one is the extension and which one is the app. To make sure you pick the right one, it is usually best to start looking for extensions from inside of Edge.
Furthermore, for those who move between devices, you will notice that your browser extensions don't sync. This means that if you install an Edge extension on your laptop, it won't automatically be installed on your desktop. The Windows Store remembers that you downloaded the app, and will have added it to your purchase history, but if you want to include that extension on another instance of Edge, you will have to install it on that device too. This applies even if you are signed in to Windows with the same Microsoft account.
All that said, these issues (and others) will likely be worked out by Microsoft over time in future Windows updates. They may not even be an issue by the time you read this article, but right now, they are something to be aware of as you start down the road towards using multiple Microsoft Edge extensions.
The Future is Bright for Edge Extensions
Chrome is currently the browser king when it comes to the variety of extensions that it offers its users. Edge has some catching up to do, but Microsoft have said that they it will be relatively easy for developers to tweak their Firefox and Chrome extensions to work just as well on Edge. If this is true, there are exciting times ahead for Microsoft Edge users!
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on October 29, 2016:
I'm afraid I can't speak as to how this works in an enterprise setting, but for consumers, this is exactly how it works. A Microsoft account is required for all downloads in the Microsoft Store, just like it is for the App Store and the Play Store. This may be different for enterprise customers, but like I said, I can't really speak to that. This guide is for consumer level users.
Holt Satterfield on October 29, 2016:
This doesn't work. Microsoft requires you to sign in using a Microsoft account. I am the admin for an Office 365 office, and Edge won't allow an Office 365 account, and I don't want my users to need to sign up for a Microsoft account before downloading extensions.
So how do we circumvent this? Thanks.