Getting rid of annoying things on Web pages

I open my laptop every few days whether it needs it or not. It's actually dusty. I use it for things like scanning, printing, and various photo and music library tasks plus one blog that won't flip a switch that allows me to publish from my iPad. Otherwise I use my iPad (3) and Kindle Fire. I have an external keyboard for the iPad or this wouldn't work because I freaking HATE the onscreen keyboard for extended typing. I also still use the laptop for writing that involves a lot of research, because that involves swapping screens a lot, and that's doable but irritating to me on an iPad.

All of this tablet-using has made simply READING on my laptop feel unbearably crowded and busy, so I've unearthed ways to make it less so. Apparently, I'm not the only one with this issue, because there are a lot of tools out there. For some reason, most that I'll mention work only with Chrome, my browser of choice, so users of other browsers might not get much use out of this post.

In the first category are Plugins That Strip Annoying Crap Off of Web Pages. I don't want to read who sponsors you, and I definitely don't want moving banners or slidey ads that beg me to click them to win gadgets I probably already have. I don't even want to read your latest tweets or see your blogroll. If I do, I'll go back and find them later. If you're like that, check out Readability and Instapaper first. These are both services that save just-the-text-ma'am for you to read later, but both also have bookmarklets you can click to just read stuff on the fly. The services are very similar and I'm not getting into a debate about their relative merits right here, although I might later because they're intriguing competitors.

If you're an Evernote and Chrome user, this is your day: check out Clearly. Clearly is an extension that plunks a button up in the toolbar, and when you click it, it magically strips junk off the page and leaves you with just the text. If you want to save the text, click the elephant on the sidebar, and just-the-text wings away to Evernote for you. Very, very handy.

The other category is Plugins That Strip Annoying Crap Off Google Services. I use Google for a lot of things, but holy cow are their pages busy. My favorite plugin is Google Reader Readable. Arguably, entirely separate apps such as Reeder are minimalist enough and have their very own clicky spots for Readability text, but I don't like it anyway despite multiple attempts to warm up to it because it lacks the simplest of keyboard shortcuts. IT MAKES ME TOUCH MY MOUSE. No. Also, I tire of having to "open in Safari" to use other various bookmarklets (I use a lot of bookmarklets). So, Readable just shows you the current article you're reading. Everything still works, and if you decide to touch your mouse, things appear in the right sidebar for you to click on when you hover over there. Then there is Minimalist for Everything, which I just use for Gmail. It has a dashboard where you can remove stuff like how much space you're using, banners, invitations, and so on.

"But you can make things full screen in Lion anyway and then they look like iOS apps." No, they don't. They look like big giant busy Web pages stretched out to the edge of the screen.