In Chrome 20 and older versions, you could simply open any .user.js file in Chrome and it would prompt you to install the user script.

However, in Chrome 21 and up, it downloads the file instead, and displays a warning at the top saying “Extensions, apps, and user scripts can only be added from the Chrome Web Store”.


The “Learn More” link points to http://support.google.com/chrome_webstore/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2664769, but that page doesn’t say anything about user scripts, only about extensions in .crx format, apps, and themes.

This part sounded interesting:

Enterprise Administrators: You can specify URLs that are allowed to install extensions, apps, and themes directly through the ExtensionInstallSources policy.

So, I ran the following commands, then restarted Chrome and Chrome Canary:

defaults write com.google.Chrome ExtensionInstallSources -array "https://gist.github.com/*"
defaults write com.google.Chrome.canary ExtensionInstallSources -array "https://gist.github.com/*"

Sadly, these settings only seem to affect extensions, apps, and themes (as it says in the text), not user scripts. (I’ve filed a bug asking to make this setting affect user scripts as well.)

Any ideas on how to install a private user script (that I don’t want to add to the Chrome Web Store) in Chrome 21+?

  • Have you tried enabling developer mode in Settings -> Extensions? Not sure if its gonna work but you can give it a try.
    – Rhyuk
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 12:04
  • @Rhyuk Thanks for the suggestion. I had developer mode enabled, though — doesn’t seem to make a difference. Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 12:05
  • 2
    Related: How do I install a userscript?
    – Sathyajith Bhat
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 13:00

3 Answers 3


The problem was that gist.github.com’s raw URLs redirect to a different domain. So, we have to use these commands instead:

# Allow installing user scripts via GitHub or Userscripts.org
defaults write com.google.Chrome ExtensionInstallSources -array "https://*.github.com/*" "http://userscripts.org/*"
defaults write com.google.Chrome.canary ExtensionInstallSources -array "https://*.github.com/*" "http://userscripts.org/*"

This works!

Anyway, this seems to be a workaround (thanks to Paul Horn for the hint):

  1. Download the user script.
  2. Open chrome://chrome/extensions/.
  3. Drag and drop the user script file on the page you opened in step 2.
  • This seems better than having to edit the command used to open Chromium. Thanks!
    – btleffler
    Commented Sep 3, 2012 at 21:39
  • @btleffler Except that you'll have to jump through that hoop every time, rather than making the change once. Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 23:48
  • NB. When drag and dropping, you need to drop the file exactly onto the message. Anywhere else on the page won't work. Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 10:53
  • is the drag and drop way of adding extensions still working? It does not seem like that on Chrome 24 on OSX.
    – Viktor
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 20:31
  • It bears mentioning that github allows the hosting of user-generated content on <username>.github.com (via "Github Pages" - pages.github.com). Just a heads up for anyone for whom this would be a security concern.
    – mh.
    Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 13:27

Start Chrome with the --enable-easy-off-store-extension-install switch.

To use a command line switch (from Chromium.org):

On Windows:

  • Right click on your "Chrome" icon.
  • Choose properties
  • At the end of your target line, place these parameters: --enable-easy-off-store-extension-install
  • It should look like: chrome.exe --enable-easy-off-store-extension-install

On OS X:

  • /Applications/Chromium.app/Contents/MacOS/Chromium --enable-easy-off-store-extension-install

  • For Google Chrome you'll need to escape spaces like so: /Applications/Google\ Chrome.app/Contents/MacOS/Google\ Chrome --enable-easy-off-store-extension-install

On Linux:

  • chromium-browser --enable-easy-off-store-extension-install
  • 1
    You have to quit chrome completely, not just open a new window from the icon. (this is rubbish of Google btw)
    – Jonathan.
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 20:32
  • 1
    Yep, this is encroaching on "evil" territory IMO. Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 3:33
  • This worked... :) The answer of @MathiasBynens didn't work on MacOS/Chrome25
    – Lipis
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 1:18
  • I have a problem on windows dl2.joxi.net/drive/0005/3037/338909/141218/3935c61eb8.jpg Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 12:12
  • 1
    Pretty sure this stopped working sometime after August, 2014. Doesn't seem to work now at all. Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 5:33

Well, this took a couple hours of my life to figure out. I guess Google engineers think that we only deserve to install untrusted extensions if we can figure out how to do tricks and jump through their hoops.

The instructions in Mathias's answer look to be spot-on for Mac OS X, but I use Linux. Here's what I did on Linux to enable easier (pre-Chrome-21-style) install of all third-party extensions, apps, and user scripts from any website:

  1. Create the policies directory (if it doesn't already exist):

    sudo mkdir -p /etc/opt/chrome/policies/recommended/
  2. Create the policy file:

    cd /etc/opt/chrome/policies/recommended/
    sudo tee easy_install_extensions.json <<EOF
        "ExtensionInstallSources": ["<all_urls>"]
  3. Restart Chrome. Completely exit the program via menu -> Exit; don't just close your current window.



  • <all_urls> (used above) is a special pattern according to the URL match docs. Good to know about.
  • According to the Linux policy docs, the directories /etc/opt/chrome/policies/{managed,recommended}/ contain JSON policy files. If entries conflict, managed overrides recommended.
  • 2
    I didn’t know about <all_urls> — very useful. Thanks! Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 6:59
  • Confirmed to work in Fedora 18. Awesome post, extremely helpful!
    – ehime
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 20:13
  • Awesome! Drag and drop didn't work before, and now it works!
    – billyswong
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 3:47

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