Can you install Chrome extensions on Android? This question appears all the time both in our mailbox and online. It’s so common that I’m going to write an entire article on the subject.
Considering both Chrome and Android are both created by Google, you would think you could use Chrome to its fullest potential. You can to a degree but you cannot add extensions to Chrome on Android. You never have been able to. I don’t actually know why it doesn’t but as far as I know, the Android version has never worked with extensions.
With that out of the way, how can you use your favorite extensions on your mobile? Use another browser. There are dozens of browsers out there that work with Android so you’re not short of choice.
Use Chrome extensions on Android
Chrome uses the open source Chromium platform for its browsers but so does a lot of the competition. The easiest way to overcome the limitation of Chrome but still keep the familiar operation and be able to use any extensions you want on desktop is to use a Chromium-based browser.
There are a bunch of them out there and some of them work with extensions. Here are some you might like to try.
Brave browser is the one I use on desktop and on Android. First up, this browser doesn’t support extensions, but it doesn’t necessarily need them. It has built in privacy controls and very effective ad blocking. If you’re using extensions to stop ads or block autoplay videos, this browser does it by default.
If you use other extensions, Brave is probably not the browser you’re looking for but if you’re all about privacy, it is definitely one to consider.
Kiwi Browser is another I have loaded onto my phone. It’s a Chromium-based browser that does support extensions. Kiwi also has ad blocking built in and works very fast. It’s a light download, installs quickly and fires up fast too. It’s a good browser for general use and blocks most ads by default.
Once loaded, select the three dot menu icon, select Extensions and you’ll see a link to the Kiwi Web Store, which is in face the Google Play Store. Select your extension from there and you’re good to go.
Bromite Browser is a GitHub project with ad blocking built in. It is based on Chromium but has been stripped down to the bare minimum to speed up browsing and minimize data collection. As many of the extensions we use are for ad blocking and to stop Google collecting our data, this is also a browser worth checking out.
Bromite doesn’t quite meet the brief of working with extensions, but like Brave, the core offering includes most of the extensions we use on a daily basis anyway.
Firefox is well known and for good reason. It has always been a close competitor to Chrome because it is equally fast, more secure and more interested in your privacy. It doesn’t have the backing of the internet giant but that hasn’t stopped it from performing exceptionally well.
Firefox for Android supports its own addons so offers a very similar experience on Android as it does on desktop. Most Chrome extensions will have a Firefox equivalent so if you have a favorite setup on your laptop or desktop, you can mimic it almost exactly on mobile.
Dolphin Browser is another top performer for Android that supports addons. I have used it for years and while recent updates haven’t moved it as far forward as I would like, it’s still a solid Android browser that supports addons. It also has an ad blocker and works with Flash too. The internet has moved away from Flash thankfully but if you play any legacy games that uses it, Dolphin will play them.
Dolphin works quickly, blocks most ads by default with only a few slipping through and works exactly how you expect a browser to work. It’s well worth checking out.
It’s a real shame that Chrome doesn’t work with extensions in Chrome. I’m sure there is a sensible reason for it but I cannot for the life of me think what it is. However, it is what it is and we have to work with it. Fortunately, you have several good options for alternative browsers that either work with extensions or provide the core services without needing them.
Do you have a suggestion for a Chrome alternative for Android? Tell us about it below if you do!