Google Chrome is one of the most popular browsers in the world, and yet, because we use it so often, we often forget what it can do.
Chrome will let you browse pages, obviously, but it's also loaded with hidden hacks that can essentially streamline your internet-browsing experience and digital life. From simple tricks that allow you to send emails from the omnibar (the Chrome name for the address bar) to extensions that you let save images to Pinterest without ever having to go to Pinterest.com, Chrome has everything you could possibly need or want.
For instance, there are stacks of tips and tricks we use on a regular basis to get the most out of Chrome on our desktop PC and Mac. Here are the best.
Google Chrome tips and tricks
Sign in to Google Chrome
This might sound super obvious, but you really should sign in to the Chrome browser before you even think about using it. Doing so will allow you to save and sync things like your bookmarks, history, passwords, and other settings to your Google Account. Then, you can access them on any device. You can learn more about how to sign in to Chrome on this FAQ page.
Add different profiles
If you have different Google accounts, like work and personal, you can use profiles to keep your bookmarks and settings separate. You can learn more about how to add a Chrome profile on this FAQ page.
Browse in private or delete your history
If you don’t want Chrome to save what you visit or download, you can always browse the web privately using Chrome's Incognito mode. You can also delete your history, cookies, and other information - all at once or just some from a specific period of time. Go here to learn more about Incognito mode or learn about how to delete your history in Chrome.
Access Chrome's settings
From Chrome, find the hamburger menu (an icon with three vertical dots on the upper left) and then select Settings to access Chrome's full list of settings. Or just type chrome://settings/ in your omnibar.
Learn basic keyboard commands
There are lots of Chrome keyboard commands, but here are some worth remembering:
- Ctrl/Command + T opens a new tab
- Ctrl/Command + W closes your current tab
- Ctrl/Command + Shift + T opens your last tab
- Ctrl/Command + L highlights whatever’s in the omnibar
- Ctrl/Command + Tab moves you a tab to the right
- Ctrl/Command + Shift + Tab moves you a tab to the left
Add a “guest browser” account
If you want to let your friend use your laptop but still keep all your browsing info private from them, go to Chrome's settings, and then under People select Add a person. This will let them have their own browsing experience separate from yours.
Use the Task Manager
You can Chrome’s Task Manager to end memory-hungry pages or see what’s slowing your session down. Go to Chrome's hamburger menu on the left and then select More Tools. From there, click Task Manager.
Manage Autofill settings
Use your autofill settings to avoid manually entering your address or password or credit card information on a daily basis. Just go to Chrome settings, then “Show advanced settings…” >, and find “Manage Autofill settings” under “Passwords and forms.”
Search sites From the omnibar
Ever want to search YouTube without going to to YouTube.com? If you go settings, you’ll see a “Manage search engines…” button under the “Search” section. Click it to see a list of sites you can search directly from the omnibar. Chrome will add these automatically, but you can also enter the URL for a site, such as Wikipedia. So, when you type a phrase in the omnibar and then hit tab, you'll go to whatever related Wiki article or YouTube video you wanted to find. This saves you an extra step, as you no longer have to go to a site’s homepage to find what you want.
Search your personal Gmail from omnibar
Go back to the “Manage search engines…” area, then scroll to the bottom to add a new search engine, and enter the following: “https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#apps/%s”. This is Gmail’s search function. You can then make the keyword “gmail.com,” or “mail.google.com”, and from that point on, you can search your email.
Do sums or equations from the omnibar
The omnibar is amazing. For instance, you can use it as a calculator. Enter 10 x 10 and it will tell you the value is 100. Try it out. It works with any equation too.
Google search a phrase by highlighting it
You can Google=search a phrase directly from your current page by highlighting it. From there, right-click or drag it to the omnibar. If you highlight a word (like 'dongles') on a page, then right-click, and select 'Look Up', you will effectively Google search the word 'dongles'.
Pin a tab
Google Chrome has a "Pin Tab" feature. If you're not familiar with it, just keep in mind that browser tabs spawn from left to right. The first tabs you open are located on the left - unless you start moving tabs around. As a result, you probably keep your most important tabs on the left. With that in mind, the Chrome browser offers the ability to lock some of your most-used tabs to the left of your browser and reduces the tabs to icon size so that you can squeeze many of your favourites in a small space. All you have to do is to right-click on a tab and select the Pin Tab option from the menu.
You can also right-click on a tab and select Mute tab from the menu to stop the sound from a particular tab.
View what you're allowing on certain pages
Ever want to see how many cookies a page is deploying or what permissions you’ve given it? Just click the padlock icon next to the URL in the omnibar to view site info including cookies and permissions. It’s also a handy way to allow the page to show popups.
Use the “Bookmark Open Pages…” option
If you want to save your current browsing session for future reference, right-click, then select Bookmarks from the Settings menu and click Bookmark All Tabs. You can then save all your open pages in a new folder. This is handy if you’re researching a subject and want to save all the helpful information you’ve already found. You can also download an extension like OneTab to do the same thing.
Reopen your recently closed tabs
If you exit your window, you can pick up where you left off by going to History from the menu bar (or going to History under the settings). Look for the tabs under Recently Closed, and click it once you find it. You can also go into settings and select “Continue where you left off” under the “On startup” section to relaunch your browser as you left it.
Save and edit bookmarks
A quick way to manage your bookmarks is to type Command + D or Ctrl + D to add a bookmark. You can also always right-click on a page in the bookmarks bar to edit their titles. You even go to Bookmarks > Bookmarks Manager from the Menu bar to manage all your saved sites and folders.
Quickly switch between tabs
Hit Control or Command + 1-9 while you're on the omnibar to quickly switch between tabs. Each number corresponds to a page's place in the tab tab above. So, on a Mac, Command + 3 will open your third tab.
Quickly close tabs
Simply right-click on a tab and then select “Close Other Tabs” or “Close Tabs to the Right" to get rid of them fast.
Set startup pages
If you want Facebook or some other page to appear as soon as you open Chrome, you can set it to automatically launch those pages. Just go to settings, then click the “Set pages” option next to “Open a specific page or set of pages,” and enter the sites you wish to visit right away.
Use Chrome as a text editor
Instead of using some random note editor on your machine to take notes, use Chrome. Just enter "data:text/html, <html contenteditable>" into the omnibar, and then you can jot something down real quick.
Use Chrome as a simple multimedia player or file viewer
Click on any multimedia file on your computer - it could be almost anything, like a video or PDF and then drag it directly into your Chrome browser window to look at it.
Download files to desktop
To quickly access a file you downloaded, automatically download it to your desktop. To change where files automatically download, go to settings, then click the Advanced Settings link, and select Downloads. There you can alter where files automatically download to (like desktop).
Zoom in or out
On a PC, you can zoom in or out on a page by pressing Control while rolling your scroll wheel up or down. You can then click Control-0 to return to the default. On a Mac, you can zoom in and out by pressing Command-plus or Command-minus. Command-0 will go back to default.
Go up or down using key commands
You can use the spacebar to scroll down on a page, and you can scroll back up by pressing shift and the spacebar.
Chrome has built-in Google Translate, but if you just want to translate a select phrase or passage, install the official Google Translate extension. You can highlight any text and click the little Google Translate icon that sits in the top-right side of your browser screen.
Cast your screen
Casting is baked into Chrome. Just right-click anywhere in Chrome to prompt a pop-up cast window. Or, click the hamburger in the top-right to prompt a pull-down menu and then choose Cast. Go here to learn more about casting from Chrome to your TV.
Use a Chrome theme
Sick of how Chrome looks? Download a theme from the Chrome store. Just click over to the Theme section and click to install.
Compose an email in your omnibar
You can write your email up in the omnibar on Chrome and send it from there. Just type “mailto:” followed by the recipients address into your omnibar. It’ll open up the Gmail compose window automatically. From there, you can write your email and hit send.
Create desktop shortcuts
You can turn any site into a desktop app to speedily access it. Just navigate to the website, then click the wrench icon, and select “Tools”. From there, click on “Create application shortcuts.”
Explore Chrome extensions
To get the most out of Chrome, go to the Chrome Web Store and explore its vast amounts of extensions and apps. The right extensions will improve your web experience. For instance, you can install the Pinterest one so you can directly pin any image you see to your account.
Do a barrel roll
Type "Do A Barrel Roll" into the omnibar and hit enter. :)