Google Chrome hosts a vast number of add-ons, called extensions, that are installed to provide a better browsing experience. We normally find and install these programs at the official Chrome Web Store but there are also instances where a third party website may host the file. Chrome will automatically disable the ability to install the extension if someone other than Chrome is the one giving it out. This helps avoid possible malicious or broken installs. That doesn’t mean these 3rd party ones shouldn’t be installed, though. If you have found an extension you want and have encountered this block, follow our instructions below to get it up and running.
Installing a regular extension
Let’s first look at how a regular extension is installed so we can easily compare the differences and have the necessary steps required to install the 3rd party extension stand out better.
Below is the “Facebook Notifications” extension for Chrome. We would normally choose the “Add to Chrome” button located at the top of the extension’s description.
A prompt will display indicated successful identification of the extension with the option to add it to Chrome now.
We’ll have to follow a slightly different step for extensions located outside of the Chrome Web Store, which we’ll explain below.
Install any Chrome extension located outside of the Chrome Web Store
When downloading an extension away from the Chrome Store, you’ll notice already that the install manner is a little different than the one we’re used to.. Note that the install or download button will not always look like this orange one below but it also won’t look like the button from the Store, either.
Click this button and notice the prompt called “Apps, extensions, and user scripts cannot be added from this website.”
OK out of that prompt, as we need to download this locally first. Choose to right-click the “Install Addon” link and select “Save link as…”
Choose a location and name for the file. The file type for this extension is “CRX.” This is just like any other extension from the Chrome Web Store only we’re handling it manually instead of letting the browser install it.
Now that we have the file saved locally, open the extensions page in Chrome or navigate to “chrome://extensions” from the address bar. Check the box that says “Developer mode” on the top right to enable the developer mode, which will allow us to pretend we’re developers and need to install ‘non-official’ extensions.
Now that we’re in a new mode drag and drop the CRX file into this extensions window. Be sure the window is open and running foremost – dropping the extension file into any other tab will not work. Notice the regular add prompt for a new install.
So this is nice, no doubt, but having to drag the extension file into Chrome for every install can get annoying. A workaround that works in some developer versions of Chrome can be achieved following these steps below.
Always allow 3rd party extensions
Create a shortcut for Chrome in another directory like the Desktop. Right-click the shortcut and choose to edit its “Properties”. Ensure the “Shortcut” tab is in focus and add the following line after the location of the target: “–enable-easy-off-store-extension-install.” Take note that space is required for the “…chrome.exe” path.
Now you can close all open Chrome windows, re-open them and install extensions outside of the Chrome Web Store just as easily as with regular ones. Again, note that this doesn’t work in every dev version of Chrome.
Adding Chrome extensions shouldn’t be any more difficult than click “Add”, which is precisely what we’ve done above. I recommend creating this shortcut edit when you first install Chrome so there’s no need to worry about it in the future.