We’re featuring a couple of articles about extensions and add-ons this week in the newsletter and I wanted to make sure that everyone is familiar with the term. It’s one of those terms you might have heard bandied about quite a bit, but maybe you weren’t sure what it means.

Extensions and add-ons are small programs that can be added onto your browser to perform certain functions. It could be ad-blocking, spelling and grammar checking, or it could be a toolbar.

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For Chrome and Microsoft Edge, Opera and Safari these programs are called extensions. For Firefox and Internet Explorer they’re called Add-Ons. But it all means the same thing.

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Most often, you find these programs by going to the Extension or Add-On store for your particular browser. By store, I’m not referring to a store that you visit. I’m talking about a special web page where you can download these programs for your particular browser. Sometimes you’ll find them on other sites, especially toolbars.

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Sometimes these programs are sneakily tacked on to other downloads, so I always prefer to get them from the actual store for your browser.  Sometimes, they are included with a program or service you purchase. For example, Norton Security offers special extensions that subscribers can add to the browsers they use.

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Downloading an extension only applies it to your browser. It doesn’t function separately from that browser and it doesn’t add it to other browsers. So, if I added the Grammarly grammar checker to Chrome, I’d have to install it separately on Firefox to use it there. But not all extensions are available for all browsers. Some are exclusive to only one browser like Google Chrome.