Two Chrome extensions you must install: Reader View & Dark Reader

There are two unrelated things that bother me. One, Chrome doesn't have an in-built reading view mode. Two, Microsoft hasn't implemented a dark system theme for Windows 10 on the desktop yet. First, I'll tackle Chrome's missing reading view. Apple's Safari has one (it might have been the first). Microsoft's new Edge has one. Evernote used to make an extension called Clearly, but it's gone now. It was free, then you had to pay for Evernote just to use the advanced features, but they've clearly (LOL) just given up on it. I used to like Evernote, but now they suck, so I use Wunderlist. It also clips pages a helluva lot faster than Evernote (and OneNote, for that matter). 

Editor's Note: The links included here go directly to the App Store panel for these extensions. 

Just yesterday, I was poking around the Chrome App Store to see if someone had made a reading view mode extension yet, and I found one! It's called Reader View, and it's a simple extension that installs very quickly. When you load a page that has an article inside, the extension detects that and pops a little icon into your address bar. Just click on that and you go from this: 

to this...

If you look real closely at the top right corner of the reader view page, you can see an "aA" icon. Click or tap that, and you can change what your reader view looks like. I prefer darker tones, like this: 

It's a lot easier on the eyes. I included the customization widget in this last image. That's the vertical row of icons on the right. For some reason, the font selector shows the same icon for all of the fonts, and only two of them work, but I don't care. I'm just happy to have this again, and I'm sure the developer will fix it some day. I prefer sans serif fonts to classic serif types, but I can work with what I've got. 

Now, right before I found Reader View, I found Dark Reader. As you can well imagine, I thought it was what I was looking for, but I couldn't have been more wrong, nor do I care. I've tried a few dark page extensions before, and they just invert the colors. It looks horrible on already dark pages. If you have an iPad and the feature is on (check in your Accessibility Settings), just triple press the Home button, and it will invert the colors. It makes images look creepy. 

Anyway, the description for this extension suggested that it had a new way of doing things, so I installed it, and boy am I pleased. To a small degree, it does invert some colors, but overall, it makes much smarter decisions about what is made dark and what is made light. Just take a look at the same page from before. This is what it looks like by default: 

This is what it looks like with Dark Reader turned on...

As you can see, it really doesn't change much at all. When on, the whites become almost black, and the dark tones become a light gray. Most of the other colors are left alone, and you'll note that the images don't look creepy, either! That's some smart coding, instead of the lazy junk you can get a few dozen copies of. 

Because it works so well, I just leave it on all the time. In the menu, there's a place where you can whitelist domains that you don't want Dark Reader to modify. That comes in handy for sites that are already dark. You can also turn it on or off with a simple keyboard shortcut that takes just a few times to get used to. If that weren't enough, you can even modify how significant the changes the extension makes. Feel free to fiddle around, but be aware that there is no Reset button, so if you make one change and don't like it, make sure to note where it was before. Hopefully, that will get added soon. 

These are two fantastic, free extensions you can get now for Chrome. I've only tested them on Windows, but I'm pretty sure they'll work on any system. Of course, it's quite likely that the site must use CSS in order for this to work, but I can't imagine any site NOT using CSS these days. One cute little quirk I'd like to note on Dark Reader is the icon it uses. Take a close look, and you'll see that the little heads are somehow familiar. 

You'll figure it out. Once you do, let me know :)