Useful Browser Extensions for Senior Citizens

We have covered how to set up a computer for a senior citizen. Since a browser is one of the pieces of software people (including seniors), uses all the time, here are some suggestions on how to make the browser more senior citizen-friendly.

Before I get to the extensions, here are a few thoughts. First, there are almost no extensions marked as “for seniors” because there is no functionality only a senior will use.

Secondly, many seniors don’t need a special approach – they are just ordinary users with lots of skills, so you don’t treat them like absolute beginners who can’t make it on their own. Just consider what the senior will benefit from and install only these extensions.

Finally, as you can expect, not all extensions are available for all browsers. Consider if it makes sense to switch browsers just for the reasons of using an extension.

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The Oswald browser extension for Chrome provided by the Oswald foundation is one of the few extensions that mentions seniors in particular. It is an accessible reading extension. It extracts the content from a page and reads it to the user in a language of his or her choice. The extension also corrects color contrast, font size, etc., to make it easier to read the text onscreen in case the user prefers this to listening to the text. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an extension with similar functionality for any of the other major browsers.

While there are seniors who have the eyesight of an eagle, this is hardly the norm for this age group. Therefore, an extension that enlarges stuff on screen is usually more than welcome. Of course, you can simply zoom the content on a page, but a magnifier is a more targeted approach, because with it you are able to magnify portions of the screen rather than the whole screen.

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There are tons of such magnifier extensions for almost any browser, so check them out on your own to see which one is best for you. For instance, if you need it for Firefox, consider this one. A more universal extension that is available for Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome, Edge, and Yandex is this one, but there are many more I won’t mention, so don’t limit your options to these two.

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I think a weather extension is useful because most of the seniors I know are addicted to checking the weather. As with magnifiers, there is no shortage of extensions for any browser. There are no particular recommendations here; just check what’s available for your browser and get the one most suitable for you. For instance, this extension isn’t bad and it’s available for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, but I am sure there are others available for a particular browser only that aren’t bad either.

I know ad blockers hurt the revenues of sites, and this is why I hesitated to recommend the use of an ad blocker, but for seniors I think it’s justified. Accidental clicking of the wrong ad can infect a computer with viruses. Additionally, ads clutter the page, making it harder to navigate. Because of this it’s safer for a senior (and you) to use an ad blocker.

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The best ad-blocking extension I know about – which is available for Chrome, Safari, Edge, Opera and Firefox – is AdBlock, but feel free to browse for alternatives, such as uBlock Origin, if you don’t like it. For iOS and Android, get AdBlock Plus.

You most certainly don’t have to be a senior to need reminders, but for seniors such an extension could be of great use. There isn’t a single best reminder extension I can recommend for all browsers, but if you are using Chrome, Remind Me is a good choice. For Firefox, you could try ReminderFox. Check what else is available for your browser(s) of choice.

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You can install many more extensions if you believe they will make a senior’s life easier. However, I strongly recommend limiting the number of extensions because more extensions lead to clutter and confusion and slow down the browser. Even if you don’t install a single extension because you think the browser a senior uses is just fine as it is, this is okay.

6 comments

  1. uBlock Origin is better than AdBlock Plus because it uses less RAM and is better at blocking unwanted ads.

    • But if you use Firefox, you should use Tracking Protection *with* uBO. Sometimes, Firefox catches something that uBO forgets.

      • Everyone using FF should use Tracking Protection. Two more add-ons everyone should use are Privacy Possum (prevents accurate tracking) and No Coin (prevents Cryptojacking).

        If you really want to stop ads (no matter what O/S no matter what browser) you should use your HOSTS file. There are sites that offer pre-configured HOSTS files containing the addresses of sketchy sites that might track you, set cookies, send you ads and/or redirect you to more sketchy sites. You download the file and replace your HOSTS file with it. As is the case with all HOSTS files, you can edit it manually to add or subtract site addresses

  2. After installing and then attempting to use OSWALD thru its READING MODE button I receive this error message:

    This site can’t be reached
    oswald.ga’s server IP address could not be found.
    Search Google for oswald ga url
    ERR_NAME_NOT_RESOLVED

    Dan

    • This is some DNS issue. I don’t know if it’s Oswald, your browser, your provider or what – just try again later, though I am not sure thus will help.

      • Oswald does change the color & font but there is no READ ALOUD button (probably because I get this erro when I click on Oswald’s READING MODE button:
        This site can’t be reached
        oswald.ga’s server IP address could not be found.
        Search Google for oswald ga url
        ERR_NAME_NOT_RESOLVED

        My browser/ISP never gives me this err for a legit site.
        Am I the only one?

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