Difference between plug-ins & extensions

You hear me refer to plug-ins, extensions, and add-ons sometimes when talking about using the Internet. A reader wants to know more about what they are exactly.

“I am using Chrome and Gmail exclusively. Not sure about the difference between plug-ins and extensions, will appreciate your guidance.”

An extension (sometimes called an add-on for some browsers) is a mini-program that runs within the confines of the browser. For example, a Grammarly extension can check your spelling and grammar for writing done within the confines of the Chrome browser.


An extension could add a toolbar to your browser. Other popular extensions like Ghostery can protect your privacy or store your passwords like LastPass. These mini-programs will only work when you’re using Chrome.

For example, if I want to use Grammarly with Microsoft Word, I have to download and install a separate add-on for that program. If I want to to use it in Firefox, I’ll have to download the specific program for Firefox.

Plug-ins usually refer to programs likeĀ  Flash Player or Apple Quicktime. They allow content that’s already part of the design of the webpage to display properly. That could mean that a video will play or animation or online form will work. A plug-in wouldn’t be able to check your grammar.



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