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How to Manage Your Chrome Extensions (And Your Team’s)

When you want to add extra features to the Chrome web browser, Google simplifies this process by allowing the installation and use of Chrome extensions. Oftentimes, these extensions improve the usability, productivity, and functionality of Chrome.

After you’ve installed multiple extensions, though, you may need to manage Chrome extensions to make the most of the tools you have installed. We will provide a number of ideas and tips to help you make the most of your own extensions and to manage Chrome extensions for your G Suite team as an administrator.

Where to Find the Chrome Extension Manager

When you want to begin managing your extensions in the Chrome web browser, click on the three dots at the upper right corner of the Chrome browser. Then click on More Tools, followed by Extensions.

Chrome will open a new tab labeled Extensions. This tab will have a blue stripe at the top and a number of rectangles in the middle of the screen that look like individual cards with each extension listed on them.

Finding a Particular Chrome Extension

Scroll through the list of cards in the Extensions window to find the one you would like to manage.

Otherwise, if you have a huge list of cards in the window, making it difficult to find just the right one, you can search for a particular extension. Click in the search bar in the middle of the blue stripe at the top of the Chrome page. Type a word or two of the title of the extension for which you would like to search. As you type, Chrome will cause any cards for extensions that do not match your search terms to disappear, making it easier to find the one you actually want.

How to Disable Extensions

To manage Chrome extensions, click the Details button on the card for a particular extension. You can perform a few functions on the extension through the Details window, and you can see information and statistics about the extension.

At the top of the window, you’ll see a slider button to turn on or turn off the extension. Slide the button to the right to turn it on (and it will be a bright blue color) or slide it to the left to turn it off (and it will be a white color).

You don’t have to save this change. Click the left pointing arrow at the top left of the Details window, and you’ll return to the list of all of your cards with the extensions listed on them.

If you previously disabled an extension and want to enable that particular extension again later, click on Details again and move the slider button to the right. (You also can turn off and turn on an extension from the Extensions page listing all of the extension cards by moving the slider button left or right inside the card.)

How to Remove an Extension

Instead of disabling it, you also can delete the extension if you know you will never want to use it again.

You can click the Remove button inside the card for the extension on the Extensions page. In a popup window, Chrome will ask whether you actually want to remove the extension. Click Remove to delete it.

You also can delete it from the Details page for the extension. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Remove. Again, you’ll have to verify that you actually want to remove it by clicking the Remove button.

Deciding Whether to Disable an Extension

If you’re unsure whether you want to disable or remove an extension, you can learn more about what the extension does through its Details page.

In the Permissions section, you’ll see a list of exactly how the extension can affect your browser or computer.

Scroll to the bottom of the window and click on Extension Options. You’ll see a bit more information about how the extensions handle your personal data in a new tab.

With this information in hand, you may be able to better determine whether you want to continue using the extension.

How to Add New Extensions

You can add extensions to your version of Chrome from the Chrome Web Store.

In the search box at the upper left corner of the Chrome Web Store, type some search words for the extension that you want to add and hit enter. You’ll see a list of Chrome extensions that match your search criteria in the center of the window.

Click the Extensions button along the left side of the window to ensure that you’re only seeing extensions listed in the middle of the window. You can further narrow your search by clicking on some of the other search criteria listed on the left side of the window.

Once you’ve narrowed the list, click on the extension that you want to add. You’ll see information about the extension in the window. Click the Add to Chrome button if you want to add it.

Managing Extensions for Your G Suite Team

As a G Suite administrator, you understand that your users will need to be able to use certain extensions in Google Chrome to do their jobs effectively. But you also must have an ability to manage which extensions they can use and how they use those extensions, ensuring their usage patterns match up with the policies of your organization regarding data protection.

To balance these two needs, you may want to control the way your users are able to manage Chrome extensions. Removing some of the ability of the individual users to manage their own extensions is one way to gain extra control.

This can be helpful for ensuring that your users are not installing extensions that could place sensitive data in jeopardy or that could have bugs or functions that cause issues for your network. Although most Chrome extensions are safe, some downloads could have a malware or adware attached to them, leading to unwanted problems.

By controlling the way your G Suite team can install and manage their Chrome extensions, you can eliminate this potential problem.

To start the process, sign in on your Google Admin console. From the Admin home page, click on Devices, followed by Chrome. Then click on Apps & Extensions, followed by Users & Browsers. You then are ready to manage your users’ extensions.

Here are some ways you as the G Suite administrator can manage Chrome extensions for members of your team.

Forcing Extension Installs

When you want everyone in your group to install certain Chrome extensions, you can force these installations.

Find the extension you want to install on all of the versions of Chrome in the organization. Under the Installation Policy section, select Force Install and then click on Save.

By forcing the installation of the extension on all of the users’ browsers, the extension will be able to access information from the browsers of the users’ devices.

Blocking Multiple Extensions

You may have certain extensions you do not want members to be able to use. After clicking on Users & Browsers, you can determine exactly what kinds of extensions you will block.

  • Allow non-blocked extensions: You can choose to block only specific extensions, which means that end users will be able to add any other extensions that are not part of your blocked list. This is the easiest way for an administrator to prevent users from installing just a few specific extensions.
  • Limit origination of extensions: You have the ability to limit users to only installing extensions from the Google Play Store or from the Chrome Web Store. This can be a good way to remove the possibility of a user finding an extension on a non-Google-operated website. Such an extension may have a greater chance of having malicious software associated with it. Even if you limit users to downloading extensions from one of these stores, you still can block certain extensions within those stores.
  • Only allow certain extensions: If you only want to give users access to a handful of extensions, blocking all other extensions, you also have this opportunity on this Users & Browsers window. Just select the extensions that you want to allow, and this will automatically block all others.

After making your decisions on which extensions to block, click the Save button to activate the changes you’ve made.

Blocking a Single Extension

You also have the option of blocking one particular extension.

After clicking on Users & Browsers, look through the list of extensions for the one you’d like to block throughout the entire organization. Click on it. Scroll until you see Installation Policy and click Block. Then click Save to preserve your changes.

Manage Extension Permissions

With some Chrome extensions, you can give the extension the right to make changes to your installation of Chrome or to a web page to make it run correctly for your needs. Granting rights to the extensions involves a process called providing permissions.

Some of the permissions you may give to an extension include:

  • Modifying a web page
  • Reading browsing history
  • Accessing cookies on the machine
  • Accessing a USB port
  • Accessing storage

As the administrator, you have the ability to control these permissions for each extension, if desired. You may find that granting some of these permissions creates compatibility issues with your internal apps or software, so you’ll want to block those permissions.

After clicking on Users & Browsers, scroll downward to the Block Extensions By Permission and activate the permissions you want to allow. (Understand that some extensions will not run at all if you block certain permissions.) Click Save to save your choices.

Review Extensions Being Managed

If you’d like to review the Chrome extensions settings that you’ve created previously for your group or that your predecessor may have created, you can click on Devices from the Admin console page. Click Chrome, followed by Browser Extensions List.

Click on any of the extensions on the page to see information about it. Some of the most important information regarding installations includes:

  • Install type: This shows you who installed the extension and when they installed it. If you see “multiple” under install type, this is a sign that users are installing this extension on their own whenever they want, which you may want to change.
  • Installed: This area shows you how many different Chrome browsers in your organization have an installation of this extension on them. If you are force-installing certain extensions, this can help you see whether everyone in the organization is using the extension.
  • Disabled: This area shows how many Chrome browsers in the organization have the extension disabled. If you are trying to disable the extension on every browser in your organization, this number will help you determine whether you missed any browsers.
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