Install a Chrome Extension From a .ZIP In Under a Minute
Usually when you install a Chrome extension you do so from Chrome’s Web Store. However, some extensions are not published on the webstore. That may be because they use additional functionality not supported by the Web Store’s rules, are independently developed, or are beta versions.
These are known as external extensions and you must manually install them.
Below are two easy steps to install external extensions in Chrome. These steps work for ‘unpacked’ extensions (downloaded as a compressed .zip/rar folder) as well as .crx files.
Before we get to the steps – which literally take less than a minute to complete – we want to make a note about the security risks.
There is a reason Google wants you to get extensions from the Web Store: Extensions can view all of your browsing activity and the information you are typing into your browser. This is an extreme security risk if they have been maliciously designed.
When extensions are submitted to the Web Store, Google has the ability to review and block the malicious ones. When you are manually installing an extension, no such review has occurred, and the code could be malicious and untested.
You should only manually install an extension when you understand this risk.
How to Manually Install A Chrome Extension
- Download the extension. Usually extensions come packaged as a zip/rar file. Extract the files into their own folder. If the extension is a “.crx” file, this is a format for Chrome extensions which contains all of its data – no need to extract anything.
Give the extension files a permanent home. Chrome will need continual access to these files for the extension to work, so the file path cannot change. This means don’t leave the files on your desktop or downloads folder where you may accidentally tidy them up or delete them later.
- In Chrome, navigate to chrome://extensions/
Now drag and drop the extension from your file manager anywhere onto the extensions page in Chrome. If the extension is a .crx file you will be asked to review the permissions and add the extension.
Done! The extension is installed and you are ready to go. You can now manage the extension as you would any other, and its icon will appear in the Chrome Menu (if it has one) to the right of the address bar.
Note that every time you restart Chrome, the first new window will present a notice about the security risks of developer mode. To leave the extensions enabled, click “Cancel.” This is a bit of a nuisance, but it’s only one click!