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How to Install Extensions From Outside the Chrome Web Store

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Try to install an extension from outside the Chrome Web Store and Chrome will tell you that extensions “can only be added from the Chrome Web Store.” However, this message is incorrect – you can still install extensions from elsewhere.

This restriction is in place to prevent malicious websites from installing bad extensions, apps, and user scripts. You should only install extensions from legitimate websites you trust – the LastPass website, for example.

Manually Installing an Extension

To install an extension manually, click the wrench menu, point to Tools, and select Extensions to open the Extensions page.

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If you’re seeing the message, Chrome has already downloaded the extension, app, or user script to your computer. You’ll find it in Chrome’s default download folder. Extensions and apps have the .crx file extension, while user scripts have the .user.js file extension.

If it didn’t download to your computer, right-click the extension installation link on the page and use the Save As option to save it to your computer.

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Drag and drop the CRX (or user.js) file onto the Extensions page to install it.

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You’ll be prompted to confirm installation of the extension, just as if you had installed it from the Chrome Web Store.

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Always Allow Extensions From Outside the Chrome Web Store

If you frequently install extensions from outside the Web Store, you can allow extension installation from any website by adding a command-line flag.

To add a command-line option, you’ll have to edit the Chrome shortcut’s properties. To access these on Windows 7, assuming you launch Chrome from your taskbar, right-click the Chrome icon on your taskbar, right-click Google Chrome in the menu that appears, and select Properties.

If you launch Chrome from your Start menu or your desktop, right-click the shortcut on your Start menu or desktop instead.

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Select the Shortcut tab and add the following text to the end of the Target box:

–enable-easy-off-store-extension-install

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After changing this setting, close all Chrome windows and launch Chrome from the shortcut you modified. You may want to wait a few moments after closing all Chrome windows to ensure Chrome is no longer running in the background

Try to install an extension from a web page and you’ll see a familiar installation prompt – click Continue to the install the extension.

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Changing Chrome Policies

Chrome includes policy settings designed for system administrators. If you use Chrome in your business and want to allow extension installation from a specific website or two, you can modify Chrome’s policies. This setting is changed in the registry on Windows, and in Chrome’s preferences files on Mac and Linux.

For example, on Windows, you could add the following registry entry to allow extension installation from lastpass.com:

Software\Policies\Google\Chrome\ExtensionInstallSources\1 = “https://lastpass.com/*”

For more information about this Chrome policy setting and other Chrome policy settings, consult the Policy List page on the Chromium Project’s website.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 08/2/12

Comments (22)

  1. Sterling

    Which version/channel of Chrome is this?

    I tried draggging and dropping an extension but nothing happen. The flag did the trick though.

    I’m using Chrome 21 beta.

  2. Anuj Jain

    Why exactly do people need to install extensions from outside the store? I understand trying to be outside the “walled garden”, but I’ve never heard any criticism of the google store rejecting extensions. Anyhow, I think the trend is clearly towards promoting the store and discouraging third-party installs..

    While we’re on the subject of extensions, you might want to check out this new extension called “chatterati”. It basically gives every webpage its own discussion forum. And yeah, it’s available from the store ;-) (www.chatterati.in)

  3. Raomn

    I write webapps for my company’s intranet only, I don’t like them to be published online, so that’s a reason to consider. Too bad that Chrome is treating us like idiots. I also have applications zipped stored at box.net and they all appears as malicious file ¬¬’ this is insane. I do have my antivirus, I know which extensions I install be it from the webstore, or from other sources, and I find this new features very annoying.

  4. Carlos

    Thanks !! It worked well with my eWallet AutoPass extension.

  5. Jon

    Up until a few days ago I was able to create applications using a program called appbookmark.com. Now all of a sudden it won’t work and says I can only install apps that the chrome web store created, which oddly enough is where I got appbookmark.com in the first place. Handy little program, and worked great. I followed your directions above about adding that enable thing into the target, but I am still unable to use the program. Any ideas?

  6. John Doe

    >Anuj Jain
    >Why exactly do people need to install extensions from outside the store? I understand trying to be >outside the “walled garden”, but I’ve never heard any criticism of the google store rejecting extensions. >Anyhow, I think the trend is clearly towards promoting the store and discouraging third-party installs..
    >
    >While we’re on the subject of extensions, you might want to check out this new extension called >“chatterati”. It basically gives every webpage its own discussion forum. And yeah, it’s available from the >store ;-) (www.chatterati.in)

    I politely disagree with your opinion. I for one am on this page because I want to install an extension that is not in the Chrome Web Store, and don’t want to wait around for the developer to publish it there. I understand that this is a security feature that will protect the majority of chrome users who don’t have too much technical knowledge, but there is a large group of advanced users that are aware of security threats and want to install extensions or scripts to enhance their web browsing. Thanks author for this fix.

  7. Bonny McNitt

    I have tried and tried to do this extension. I have chrome. I play zooworld and I can’t get the dan extension installed on my comp. It keeps bringing up the chrome store. I won’t play zooworld without it. I’m just so frustrated and i don’t know who to call to help me with this. I’ve tried everything that’s been posted..Now what?

  8. Nuka

    I’ve gotten the same advice from several sites other than this one as to how to bypass this new Chrome implementation. Unfortunately, I can’t get past the “drag-and-drop” step. When I drag and drop the file, I am not prompted to confirm my installation. Instead, I’m taken to a long page of userscript and nothing else happens. Could I be doing something wrong?

  9. darwin

    before you ddrag and drop, you first need to put .crx behind the name, and try it again!

  10. Ray Z

    >Why exactly do people need to install extensions from outside the store? I understand trying to be outside the “walled garden”, but I’ve never heard any criticism of the google store rejecting extensions. Anyhow, I think the trend is clearly towards promoting the store and discouraging third-party installs..

    Because Google removes or rejects extensions it doesn’t like, downloaders from Youtube, Grooveshark, and the like in particular. It gets full control in the Webstore, and uses it.

  11. Nij

    “I’ve gotten the same advice from several sites other than this one as to how to bypass this new Chrome implementation. Unfortunately, I can’t get past the “drag-and-drop” step. When I drag and drop the file, I am not prompted to confirm my installation. Instead, I’m taken to a long page of userscript and nothing else happens. Could I be doing something wrong?”

    same here!

  12. cemmac

    If you are having the JS script just showing up the make sure you have the correct script and have nothing after the .user.js so eg 858585.user.js as a script will install no problem… however if it 858585.user(2).js it will bring the screen up with all of the coding

    Cemmac

  13. brian

    hallo

    I have a problem with the shortcut.

    I copy and paste “–enable-easy-off-store-extension-install”, but it didn’t work….

  14. Harley

    I was having the same problem, drag and drop and it just goes to a page with the userscript. The whole add to target whatever this instruction is didn’t work.

    What I figured out (had a duh moment) was that I was dragging and dropping from the ‘recent downloads’ bar at the bottom of the Chrome tab.

    What you need to do instead if you’re having this problem is open the folder where your downloads go and drag and drop the file from there. Worked perfectly.

  15. Saif

    Thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!!

  16. happyman

    Thanks a lot man.. You made it really easy.

  17. Jerick Mac

    Thank you very much! this helped me a lot in installing the YOutube downloader that was recently removed from the webstore!

  18. rick

    Thanks very much for this worked perfectly

  19. dani

    im using a mac and i had it installed but i accidentally deleted it, i can re-download it, it just comes up with a code or script, help ?

  20. Phil

    Bless you. It works. Drag and drop. Who would have thunked it? I’ve been pulling my hair out trying t figure out how to install a favorite they no longer have in their store but that works very well.

  21. Nathan

    The command line tag is wrong! It should have two dashes (–) at the beginning, but it looks like your blog system replaced it with one long dash.

  22. Morten

    Thanks alot now I’m finally able too mess around with chrome and userscripts.org as before. –enable-easy-off-store-extension-install did the trick
    God bless you!

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