After Hours

10 Chrome tricks to improve your browsing experience

No hacks, no registry tweaks, no add-ons: Just an arsenal of built-in tricks to make Chrome do your bidding.

Google's Chrome Web browser has made significant inroads in the enterprise over the past couple of years. What started out as a consumer novelty (in the eyes of this sysadmin) has become an institutional product. Google has worked hard to illustrate the business-level capabilities of Chrome. It's available for Linux and Mac and even for mobile devices, making it ubiquitous across platforms.

On its own, Chrome is a fast and sleek browser that can handle the workload of even the most Web-intensive users. Here are some tricks to make your Chrome experience even better. No hacking, no registry edits, and no special add-ons required.

Note: This article is based on an entry in our Google in the Enterprise blog.

1: Use keyboard shortcuts for faster access to functions

Keyboard shortcuts that do the same thing the mouse can do are somewhat less than impressive (unless you don't have a working mouse). For instance, Ctrl + 1 through Ctrl + 8 will open one of the first eight tabs you have open in Chrome; obviously you can just click to select the tab you want. But there are several useful keyboard shortcuts without an easy corresponding mouse action (Table A).

Table A

These are just a few samples. For a full list of all keyboard shortcuts click here.

You can also assign keyboard shortcuts to any extensions or applications you use. Just open the Chrome Menu (Alt+F or Alt+E) and go to Settings | Extensions (Figure A). Figure A

There, you'll see your extensions listed; yours may be vastly different from mine. Click Configure Commands in the lower-right corner (Figure B).

Figure B

In this example, I have set up keyboard shortcuts for all my extensions. When I use the keyboard shortcut, the extension will launch or prompt me for input.

2: Use browser shortcuts for faster access to features

Chrome offers quick access to several locations directly from the address bar:

  • chrome://bookmarks --Bookmarks page
  • chrome://settings -- Settings page
  • chrome://extensions -- Extensions page
  • chrome://history -- History page

You can add these as bookmarks to the Bookmarks bar (which appears at the top of the Chrome window) by pressing Ctrl+D and then saving them to the Bookmarks bar so you can open them at any time for quick access.

3: Sync your options to simplify your life

Chrome lets you synchronize everything about your browsing experience with other Chrome installations you may have on multiple computers. To configure Sync, go to Settings, then Advanced Sync Settings (Figure C).

Figure C

You can synchronize your apps, extensions, settings, autofill, Omnibox history, themes, bookmarks, passwords, and open tabs. (See below for information on how to access Open Tabs on other systems running Chrome.)

The great thing about Sync is that as long as you log into Chrome (under Settings), you will always have access to the features or items you select under Advanced Sync settings. Just keep in mind that this could pose a security risk if your passwords get synchronized to a computer not under your direct control or that someone you don't trust (family members?) may use.

You may notice I don't have bookmarks set up to sync in the above screenshot. This is because I synchronize bookmarks using the XMarks extension, which is available for both Firefox and Chrome. While Chrome Sync has worked flawlessly for me, it doesn't apply to other browsers. It took a bit of finagling to get XMarks to reliably synchronize my bookmarks between Firefox and Chrome -- I ran into the age-old duplicate bookmarks issue. But after finally exporting them from Firefox, deleting the bookmarks from both browsers and from XMarks, then reimporting them to Firefox, all worked well again.

4: Make the most of the New Tab Page

Some of the most powerful features of Chrome are available in the New Tab Page (Figure D), which is shown when you open either a new tab (use Ctrl+T) or Chrome itself if the Home page is set to Use The New Tab Page.

Figure D

The New Tab Page shows any apps you might have installed, and you can run them from here. You can click Most Visited to the left of Apps to show the pages you access the most. You can click Other Devices to access Chrome tabs on other systems your account is linked with. (This is what it means to sync open tabs; I was confused when I first set this up, since I assumed it meant all my open tabs would automatically appear on all my Chrome browsers.) You can click Recently Closed to access the last 10 tabs you closed or visit the Web Store to get more apps/extensions.

5: Count on the Task Manager to help monitor your browser

To help you keep an eye on performance, Chrome provides a Task Manager just like Windows. You can access it using Shift+Esc (Figure E).

Figure E

The Task Manager will show you how much memory/CPU/Network Bytes Sent or Received/FPS (frames per second) your browser, tabs, apps, extensions, and plug-ins are using. This is great when troubleshooting problems with the browser or if you want to keep an eye on how many resources a particular page might consume. If you install a beta add-on and find your system is crippled afterward, you can verify the results using the Chrome Task Manager.

If you right-click on any one of these entries, you can customize the view further (Figure F).

Figure F

For instance, you can choose JavaScript Memory for stats involving this category. And if you want, you can end a process by highlighting it and using the End Process button.

6: Use the Incognito Window

Chrome allows you to browse privately in incognito mode (aka stealth mode). This mode does not record pages you access or files you download. Chrome doesn't have an option to automatically delete browsing history on a scheduled basis (do it manually by pressing Ctrl+H then choose Clear All Browsing Data), and there's no option to do so when you close the browser. Incognito mode is recommended for those instances where you may be shopping online for a new laptop for your wife and want to make sure the browser doesn't spoil the surprise the next time she uses your system. True story: I used it just last month in this manner.

Again, you can use Ctrl+Shift+N to quickly open the incognito window (Figure G).

Figure G

7: Rely on the Omnibox for faster search access

Having to go to www.google.com or use a special search bar is so 2009. Chrome will let you use the address bar as a search bar (this is called the Omnibox). In the example shown in Figure H, I have searched for San Francisco.

Figure H

8: Manipulate your tabs

Tabs aren't fixed, static entities -- they are fluid and dynamic. You can drag and drop tabs to arrange them in any order you'd like. You can also drag an existing tab down below the address bar to launch a new Chrome window, which connects to that open Web page.

Want to bring that new Chrome window back within the existing window? Just drag the tab from the new window back among the existing tabs in the first window. That tab will join the others and the second window will close.

You can even pin tabs so they will remain available but take up less space in the Chrome window (but only the tab icon is shown). To do this, just right-click the tab and choose Pin Tab. Undo the action if desired by right-clicking the tab again and choosing Unpin Tab.

9: Set pages to load automatically

Having the pages you access the most launch when you start Chrome is a huge timesaver. To configure this, press Alt+E or Alt+F and choose Settings (Figure I).

Figure I

In the On Startup section, click Open A Specific Page Or Set Of Pages. Then, click the Set Pages link (Figure J). Figure J

In the example above, I have set four pages to open when I start Chrome. Since they all require logons, Chrome has also saved my passwords so I can quickly log into each. I use this setting since my computers are secured and locked with a strong password.

If you prefer, you can set up Chrome to return to any open tabs when launched. Simply go to Settings and choose Continue Where I Left Off.

10: Use the new Do Not Track feature

Chrome 23, the most recent version, allows users to specify that they do not want their activity tracked by Web sites. Do Not Track, aka DNT, can help ensure privacy and peace of mind.

To turn on DNT, press Alt+E or Alt+F and choose Settings. Scroll down to the bottom and click Show Advanced Settings. Then, scroll down farther and review the Privacy section (Figure K).

Figure K

Select Send A Do Not Track Request With Your Browsing Traffic, and you'll see the box shown in Figure L.

Figure L

This is a somewhat lengthy explanation of the fact that basically Chrome will do the best it can to implement DNT on your behalf, but not all Web sites may cooperate. This may be an evolving standard worth keeping an eye on.

In summary

I hope these tricks will be useful and entertaining to you. If you're interested in further reading, Google offers some tips for Chrome users. And if there's something in particular you want to know more about, just use the Omnibox to find it.

Also read

Got a favorite Chrome tip?

Share your preferred tricks and shortcuts with fellow TechRepublic members.

About

Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.

34 comments
Ammara111
Ammara111

Chrome is very nice.i like it

kfilius
kfilius

This memory hog feature, can that be switched off?

hillelana
hillelana

I use and like Chrome. So there.

Richard Turpin
Richard Turpin

I have tried Chrome on several machines but Its not for me unfortunately. I can not stand the thought of all my browsing being monitored, and the memory hog is alarming, as a browser it is very swift and I can fully appreciate its attraction to the infantile. But I think that it is limited in quite a few applications which is the trade off for the speed, but as they say there is no such thing as a free meal.

skyeenter
skyeenter

Been a committed Firefox user for years. But Google has been getting sh**ty with them lately so some features were becoming problems. Started using Chrome, becoming comfortable and started trusting it features. One of the things I always liked about Firefox was the "Email Link" from the file menu that was included in the broweser. I needed to load an app for Chrome to have that feature. Found an app and started the download. That's when my night mare began. It was a casual download, just like Firefox. And then I noticed more crap ware coming along with the download. Tried to hit cancel and close the download window. Inaccessible! Opened Task Manager fast as possible and killed the process, which killed all open applications on my system. Did the restart of Firefox and Chrome only to find a new search browser U Search.net. Started Malawarebytes search, which did not find any threads. . Started Microsoft Security Essentials deep drive and left for the day for it to run through the night. Returned the next morning and MSE was locked about 1/4 way through the search. Killed the search. Clicked on Start in Win 7 to search programs. It opened an at home legal program I had on the HD. Clicking on law program to close it brings up start menu. Click on start menu it brings up program. Now I know I'm hacked big time. Immediately shut down system and reboot into Safe Mode. More night mares. The laptop has a biometric fingerprint reader. Safe Mode loads and opens to Administrator login screen. No biometric reader available, the code was written in the boot log to start after the text code. One problem! No text password! Only one user account with no password. Completely locked out of machine. Insert CD to boot bios from CD drive. Win 7 Safe Mode says unable to change bios setting while in Safe Mode. CD drive boot inoperable so can't use HP Recovery Disc or Hiren's CD Boot Disk, or reinstall WIN 7 OEM from CD drive. Try F8 repair settings, Command Prompt, System Restore etc, all reboot back to Admin Log On Screen, which requires Admin text password on machine that only has biometric password. Finally pressing and restarting all the F keys I find in F11 I HP help reset/restore screen opens. Out of several choices I select Command Prompt which opens DOS screen. Open Regedit. Start searching for registry changes that will delete passwords, safe mode, allow boot sequences changes and what ever else I need to get back to the desktop so I can start removing the malware. Call HP and MS help desks for their help. I ultimately realized that the Level 1 support in both of these organizations is useless. But none of them will relinquish the case file and send it to a higher level. After I got into Command Prompt and Regedit I had to walk the "kid" at MS through how to enter command code. WTF, I'm suppose to be paying for that? So now I'm working on my own doing more searches for help. It's better than arguing with undereducated tech help. And I haven't even covered the call quality of the international connections. All I can say is a big thank you to everyone from Google Chrome developers who leave the gigantic holes in their code, the app creator who allowed the tag along code to install, and the f**king hackers who ingeniously and maliciously have been my constant companions for the last three and one half business days. And MS for changing their login feature in Win 7 so there's no bypassing the login like in XP. In addition, I want to thank the Corporate Thieves at Microsoft and HP for their hijacking attemps at my finances to help me with this problem. Their extortion is no different than the hackers demanding ransom ware purchase. But then they're corporations and exempt from that comparison. I have had to cancel appointments, turn down walk in business, process credit cards on paper charge slips and simultaneously manage three computers doing fixes and searches. My last resort is pull the hard drive, install in a HD caddy, save some of my program files and blow up the HD, if I can't eliminate the malware.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Preferably someone who dropped FF to go to Chrome.

21Eagle21
21Eagle21

I have been trying to rectify a problem I have been having for months and thus far my efforts have been fruitless. I have 2 IMAC computers at home circa 2009, 2011. They are both operating Mountain Lion OSX 10.8.2. Regardless of the webpage (I originally thought there was a conflict with Office Outlook Web Access where I deploy my company e-mail), periodically a large arrow in a grey circle appears on the left side of the page, and will pull the page I am working on closed. Periodically can be as often as every few minutes, highly frustrating. Once the page is closed I can't go back and recover the page, thus any form I am filling out online, online backing activity, online commerce, e-mail, is terminated before completion and has to be re-entered. If anyone has a solution, I'd be very grateful to hear from you. Thanks

shikshikshik
shikshikshik

Chrome is the top of the line browser as regards speed, getup and reliability and for a long time it was my default browser, till I needed to deal with Video downloads. Chrome has no integrated Video downloader like IE and Firefox. Therfore, I am using chrome for the limited use of Search.Please ddo something about this shortcoming of Chrome. Ramesh Pradhan

tiggsy
tiggsy

AddThis is a great add-on. Customize the list to get your favorite sites for sharing. Since I added this plugin, I find it totally intuitive to share stuff on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or by email... whereas before if I was busy I often wouldn't bother even if I felt it was something I should share.

mail2ri
mail2ri

I was a loyal Chrome user until sometime late last year, when for some inexplicable reasons Google / Chrome Team chose to tinker with the font rendering, making reading extremely difficult and stressful for the eyes. Despite several posts on their forum and feedback to Google, there has been no resolution to this issue. Besides, Chrome remains the memory hog it always was. Certain website compatibility issues persist, forcing one to switch to IE / FF which handle webpage rendering easy. So, I had promptly switched to FF & IE9 as Google has become the new Microsoft. Unless Google gets the basics right, which made it a super success in its early days of Chrome, it is bound to lose eyeballs to competitors. Hope someone from Google is reading this, or at least reads feedback / comments posted on their forum. So, IMO, the points discussed in the articles are irrelevant if Google can't set right its Chrome usability.

creed
creed

Chrome is Forceware, as in it has only spread due to the Google deal with Adobe to spam users pc with Chrome when they upgrade acrobat/flash. supporting couple hundred pc's and have had to remove Chrome off of their pc since it messes up the default browser of choice IE. When you remove Chrome it doesn't uninstall correctly and then links in emails or our software no longer work to open a web page. You need to edit the registry to fix the issues Chrome causes. This software was not asked for but installed because Goggle and Adobe knows not a sole reads the update notice and clicks to install a new flash vers then they a stuck with Chrome. If it was not for this cheaters delivery system no one would use Chrome. I remove it from every system I touch. It's only an evil tracker to give them more info on how you use the internet.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"But there are several useful keyboard shortcuts without an easy corresponding mouse action ...Saves an existing page as a bookmark...Reopens a closed tab" The activities described above are ones I engage in daily. I've never liked memorizing things; that's what I have a computer for. One reason I like Firefox is the ability to customize the toolbar with mouse-clickable icons for most features, and the ability to position them where I want. I don't have to memorize any keystrokes when there are icons right in front of me. Maybe I'm the only guy left on the planet willing to sacrifice a bit of vertical screen space for a toolbar. But if I am, am I going to be unhappy trying to use Chrome?

Fravio
Fravio

I was thinking this article was about something extraordinary....

sysop-dr
sysop-dr

You can bookmark the new tab page and reopen it on an existing tab. My other most used feature is F12.

JasminSuma
JasminSuma

Very nice article...chrome is my favorite browser...after reading this it seems i cant browse without it...thanks for this nice post...:D

uxuf
uxuf

You can also "group" tabs for tearing them off to a new window. Just use Shift or Ctrl to select a number of tabs; if you drag the tabs then they will come off as a single unit. Quite handy!

Kim SJ
Kim SJ

If you drag the icon to the left of the URL up into the tab bar, it will open a second tab on the same URL (but without the back history). I find this useful for example when I'm scanning for good google hits. Click a search result; if it's good, drag it up, go back to the first tab and hit back; else just hit back; ...aaand repeat. This allows you to collect the set of useful hits very quickly.

ian_cook_1
ian_cook_1

For those used to the IE "Close all tabs" / "Close current tab" saviour when hitting the X in the top right hand red box by mistake there are numerous extension such as "Window Close Protector" that warn if you hit the Chrome X in the top right hand red box with "Leave this page" / "Stay on this page".

peter.ruijter
peter.ruijter

A small extension to topic 2 "Use browser shortcuts for faster access to features" use chrome://chrome-urls/ to see all available URL's inside the chome browser.

sathyapriya kamaraj
sathyapriya kamaraj

@21Eagle21 , have u got any solution for the recovery of the chrome browsing page, when system is restarted in occasion? since am getting struck by this problem for a while.

JCitizen
JCitizen

that will just not go away. Apparently they think you have a screen magnifier on all the time! I just think they could care less; because people have been screaming about this for at least four years(it seems like). :O

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Self-inflicted injuries. If your supported users don't know what they're doing, maybe they shouldn't have the rights to install software in the first place.

FreeStanler
FreeStanler

I also miss the bookmarks sidebar from Firefox. But you can easily hide the bookmark bar in Chrome with its own shortcut (ctrl-shift-b). However, you can also opt to have your bookmarks page open (ctrl-shift-o, or open it from the settings menu) as its own tab. You may choose to open this page automatically each time Chrome starts. You can also quickly activate full screen mode by pressing f11.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

I learned most of those keyboard shortcuts several years ago because using them is so-o-o-o much easier than diddling a touchpad. I use them every day...in Firefox!

CharlesGreever
CharlesGreever

You can click the star in the URL bar to favorite it/bookmark it. The new tab page has a nice "Recently Closed tabs" menu to let you open recently closed tab(s).

333239
333239

It is ridiculous that Chrome doesn't have this option built-in. No way to quickly email a link to someone either. That's why I just stick with IE unless it's a slow machine.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

most of these "tricks" have been standard use in Opera for years.

JCitizen
JCitizen

and select "Add Page" to put a favorite on there. I've been using Chrome a while though - I remember tearing my hair out several years ago trying to keep up with the changes. I can't drag myself away from Dragon(Comodo's Chrome), because it is so crazy fast. Now that Chrome is soon going to be supporting Trusteer's Rapport, I may never go back to the other two browsers at all.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

and was completely put off by the bookmarks / favorites management. I couldn't figure out a way to pin the bookmark menu on the left side. I quickly got tired of scrolling the top menu bar, and couldn't figure out a quick way to access my favorites. Back to FF for me.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

At the top of the window. It's the same location as the Firefox default for a new install: just below the window controls, but above all menu bars and tool bars. Later versions of FF have the same default location.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

At the bottom? I'm also a 'tabs on top' kinda guy; that's where every other browser and app I use puts them.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

You shouldn't have any problems. I tried it, I didn't like it. I like my tabs immediately above the page display and I couldn't find a way to make Chrome do that for me.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Can I navigate it effectively with a mouse as I am accustomed to, without having to learn a bunch of keyboard shortcuts?

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