Let’s face it, the light-and-fast Google Chrome browser is the only way to surf the web-no question. But whether you’re new to the browser or an old veteran, we’ve got some tricks to improve your mileage. Our Google Chrome Optimization Guide will show you which Google Chrome extensions to download and ways to tweak settings you didn’t even know were there.
Take a Shortcut
Before we dive in to Chrome’s many hidden gems, let’s start with some basics (run before you walk, as they say). Just like in Windows, shortcuts can save you a ton of time in Chrome, as well as having to constantly reach for the mouse to perform menial tasks such as opening new tabs. Memorize these handy shortcuts and you’ll be well on your way to mastering Chrome:
- Ctrl+N: Opens a new window.
- Ctrl+T: Opens a new tab.
- Ctrl+Shift+N:: Opens a new window in incognito mode so you can, uh, shop birthday gifts on the sly. Yeah, that’s what this is used for, right?
- Ctrl+Shift+T: Resurrects the last tab you just sent to the graveyard. You can reopen the last 10 tabs you closed.
- Alt+F or Alt+E: Opens the Chrome menu.
- Ctrl+Shift+B: Toggles the bookmarks bar on and off.
- Ctrl+H: Opens the History page.
- Ctrl+J: Opens the Downloads page.
- Shift+Esc: Opens Chrome’s Task Manager, so you can see which tabs are using the most resources, potentially slowing down performance.
- These are just some of the many, many Window keyboard, Google Chrome feature, address bar, webpage, and text shortcuts available in Chrome. If you spend a few minutes each day learning a couple of new shortcuts, it won’t be long until you’ve committed them all to memory.
Enable Chrome’s Gold Icon
Vinyl decals won’t make your Honda Civic go any faster than it’s already capable of going, and by that same token, replacing Chrome’s icon with the hidden Gold version doesn’t offer anything other than an aesthetic change. Be that as it may, it’s super easy to add a little bling:
- Right-click Google Chrome’s shortcut and select Properties
- Select the Shortcut tab and click Change Icon…
- Choose the Gold icon and press OK, then Apply the change
- After you swap the icon, sit back and languish in the jealousy of your co-workers!
Get Freaky with Favicons!
One reason to use Chrome is because it offers a clean and clutter-free interface, a fact that’s not lost on competing browser makers who’ve attempted to emulate the look and feel of Chrome. Even still, there’s room for improvement. One way to simplify Chrome’s interface even further is to only use Favicons in the bookmarks bar.
First, make sure the bookmarks bar is enabled. If it isn’t, press Ctrl+Shift+B to toggle it on, or press the Menu button denoted by three lines in the upper right-hand corner (previously the Wrench icon), expand the Bookmarks option, and select Show bookmarks bar.Now that you can see the Bookmarks bar, go through your bookmarks and delete the text of existing ones, and do the same when adding a new bookmark. What you’ll be left with is a bunch of Favicons, which not only looks cleaner, but it saves space too. Pretty neat, isn’t it?
Home Sweet Homepages
Why settle for a single homepage when you can own two, three, or even a dozen? Or more! We’re creatures of habit, and if you’re like us, you have a selection of websites you visit every time you fire up your browser. In Chrome, it’s easy to configure multiple homepages. Just go to Menu > Settings and select the ‘Open a specific page or set of pages’ radio button. Click the Set pages hyperlink and start typing in your go-to websites.
Fool Your Friends with Fake Edits
It’s not nice to prank your friends and family, but it can be hilarious, not to mention incredibly easy in Google Chrome. Let’s say you want to convince your co-worker that AMD just purchased Intel for a mere $35 million (as if!). Load up a reliable website for tech news, likeMaximumPC.com, right-click an article’s headline, and select Inspect Element. This will bring up a developer console in the lower portion of the browser where you can edit the webpage locally. Change the headline, and if you want to go all out, do the same for the thumbnail image and even the article text. Close out the developer console and all that’s left is a fake news story on a legitimate website!
Of course, there are practical uses for the developer console that don’t include pranking your buddies. It’s a neat way to inspect various web code and analyze HTML parse errors to ensure a clean website.
Command Chrome Like a Boss
Google Chrome is a constant work in progress, and often times the developers will disable certain functions that might not be ready for prime time for one reason or another. If you want to see what they are, and even enable them, type Chrome://flags in the address bar (Omnibar) and hit Enter. Bear in mind that they’ve all been disabled for a reason, and enabling one could break your browser.
Another one of our favorite commands is Chrome://memory, which shows not only how much memory Chrome is consuming, but also other browsers running on your system.
There are lots of other commands to play around with. Type Chrome://about to see a list of them.
Experiment on Canary and Leave Chrome Alone
If you’re not feeling adventurous enough to tweak your stable Chrome build but still want to experiment, what you need is Canary. What’s Canary, you ask? It’s the nightly build of Chrome intended for developers, so you may run into buggy behavior on occasion, but the neat thing is Canary can run alongside Chrome at the same time. Changes you make to the Canary browser have no effect on Chrome, and vice versa.
Split the Browser Window
Click the above hyperlink and type in the two webpages you want to view side-by-side in a single, neat window. It’s an easy way to compare prices between two online vendors, search results from two different engines, or keep track of different sports, among other uses.
Create a Separate Account for Little Billy
It wasn’t all that long ago when creating separate profiles for multiple Chrome users was slightly complicated and involved mucking around Windows folders, copying contents, and performing other tasks. These days it’s as simple as going into Settings and clicking the Add new user button under the Users section.
Creating a separate Chrome account is a handy way to keep little Billy’s browser settings separate from yours, and also allows you both to sync your Google account on the same PC. What it doesn’t do is secure your data from prying eyes, so view this more of a convenience than a security setting.
To switch between multiple users, click the icon in the upper left-hand corner and select the appropriate profile. Alternately, you can press Ctrl+Shift+M to switch between accounts.
Extensions, Extensions, Extensions
Still the best way to customize Chrome to your liking is with Extensions, and long gone are the days when this was a reason to cling to Firefox. Chrome’s extensions have grown in number and functionality, and there are plenty of good ones out there. Some of our favorites include:
- Awesome New Tab Page: Do you know who’s awesome? You are, and that’s why you need Awesome New Tab Page. In a word, it’s ‘awesome’. Yes, it looks a little like Metro, or whatever Microsoft is calling the funky UI in Windows 8 these days, but instead of dominating your desktop, it simply spices up Chrome with a highly customizable interface that displays a series of widgets and links.
- Buffer: Are you addicted to Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, Reddiit, or Hacker News? Then for the love of all that is holy, do your followers a favor and install Buffer, which will spread your flood of tweets and messages out over time. It’s an easy way to stay social, and also the courteous thing to do.
- Too Many Tabs: There’s no shame in being a tab-aholic, nor is there in admitting you need help. That’s exactly what Too Many Tabs does — it helps you sort through your bazillion open tabs and find the one you’re looking for.
- Print Friendly & PDF: If you print out a lot of webpages, this is a must-have extension. It allows you to strip out unnecessary items, like ads and other content and wasted space that takes up paper or ink.
- Pacman: In the old days of computing, you slacked off by playing Minesweeper or Solitaire. Maybe you remember playing SkiFree. There are better time wasters out there, and one of them is Pacman. which is available to play right in your Chrome browser with those familiar sounds that used to cost a quarter to hear.
Google has announced its first update to Google Chrome for iOS, adding the ability to share pages from the browser directly on your favorite social network, including Facebook and Twitter.
Google Chrome for iOS was announced and launched at the company’s annual developer’s conference in June.
The mobile browser offers a number of features already available in its desktop version, including synched tabs; if you’re checking out a website on your iPhone, you can open it on your desktop computer, and vice versa. Users can also share saved passwords between devices, bookmarks and search history.
Wednesday’s update allows you to share webpages via email, Google+, Facebook and Twitter. It also offers a number of other bug fixes, and stability and security improvements.
The updated version of Chrome for iOS is now available in the App Store.
Are any of you Chrome for iOS users? What do you think of the new sharing features? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
You can sign-in to Chrome for iOS with your Google user name and password. This allows users to sync bookmarks, view open tabs from other devices, access passwords and automatically login to Google services.
The first time you launch Chrome for iOS, the app offers a user tour.
The search and location bar are on in Chrome for iOS, just like with Chrome on the desktop.
Tab switching works by dragging at the edges. It is card-like, similar to webOS and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
The number of open tabs is displayed at the top, next to the Omnibox.
Landscape browsing offers minimal cruft.
Tabs can be browsed like cards and quickly removed with a swipe to the left.
The menu button brings up options, including quick access to favorites, email, “Find on Page” and the ability to view tabs on other devices.
You can select open tabs for any of the computers currently logged into Chrome on the desktop or for mobile with open tab syncing turned on. Tapping on a tab will open the window in Chrome for iOS.
After closing all tabs, this subtle background greets users.
On the iPad, Chrome looks much more similar to its interface on a Mac or PC.
Chrome’s famous “tabs on top” motif carries over to Chrome on the iPad.
The context menu in Chrome for iPad has more room to breath and expand, thanks to the larger screen.
It’s easy to browse open tabs from other synced devices. Here, you can see I am browsing open tabs on my MacBook Air and my iPhone 4S.
Chrome offers a custom keyboard for search and address entry with the Omnibox.
This is how Chrome looks on an iPad while in portrait orientation.
This is how Safari looks on the iPad. Please note, this iPad is running iOS 6.
If Google hadn’t made the message clear enough already: It really, really wants you to hack its software.
On Wednesday the companyannounced that it’s holding another competition for hackers to target its Chrome browser, following the Pwnium competition it held in Vancouver last March, where it offered a total of $1 million in hacking prizes. This time the company’s putting a total of $2 million in rewards on the table for anyone who can find bugs in its browser, exploit them, and tell Google’s security team the details of their techniques.
“The first Pwnium competition held earlier this year exceeded our expectations,” Google security engineer Chris Evans wrote in a blog post. “Most importantly, we were able to make Chromium [the open-source code base on which Chrome is built] significantly stronger based on what we learned.”
The contest will be held in October at the Hack in the Box security conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “We hope this gives enough time for the security community to craft more beautiful works, which we’d be more than happy to reward and celebrate,” Evans wrote.
Google is offering up to $60,000 for a single working Chrome exploit. While several other companies including Mozilla, PayPal and Facebook offer bug bounties, none publicly offers such a high sum.
In another blog post Tuesday, Google wrote that it had already paid out $1 million in total bounties, and would be adding small bonuses for certain categories of exploits.
Bumping its total payout for the competition, which it’s calling Pwnium 2, may be more of a marketing stunt than a significant change. In the last Pwnium contest (whose name comes from the word “pwn,” hacker jargon for compromising or taking over a target) Google only found two hackers willing and capable of winning its $60,000 prize and gave out only a small fraction of its $1 million bounty.
Even with $60,000 rewards, it’s not clear that hackers able to take Chrome apart will come forward to claim the prizes. Google’s bounties likely can’t match the sums offered by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies who buy similarly rare exploits with the intention of using them for spying on and tracking targets rather than helping software vendors fix their security flaws.
At the Vancouver conference where Google’s last Pwnium competition was held, for instance, French security firm Vupen demonstrated an exploit for Chrome at the simultaneous Pwn2Own competition, which unlike Google’s contest doesn’t require hackers to share all the details of their methods. Vupen’s chief executive Chaouki Bekrar told me that he had no intention of participating in Google’s competition if it meant revealing an exploit it could instead keep secret and sell to its government customers. “We wouldn’t share this with Google for even $1 million,” he said at the time.
In his Twitter feed Wednesday, Bekrar suggested that a bigger total reward pool wouldn’t convince Vupen to share its tricks with Google.
“Pwnium 2!” he wrote. “Expect me on Forbes saying: ‘We won’t give our pwn even for $2 millions.”
Between clients for the PC and Mac and functionality on mobile devices, Amazon’s got no shortage of methods for helping users get content onto their Kindles. Just in case you still weren’t happy with the available options, however, the mega-retailer has extended the list to include a Send-to-Kindle Chrome extension that lets users send posts, stories and various other content to their e-readers. The extension lets users preview content and limited it to selected text, as well. Amazon’s also promising similar functionality for Firefox and Safari “soon.” Check the source link below to download the offering.
What would you really like to see when you launch a new browser tab in Chrome? A blank page? Google? Tiles of your favorite websites? Or what about the time and weather where you currently are?
If it’s the latter, then this Chrome extension has you covered.
Currently offers a beautiful interface containing just two pieces of information – the time and the temperature. Once you have installed the app, you’ll likely want to dabble with the settings to suit your location – Fahrenheit or Celsius? 12-hour or 24-hour? Dark, light or blue background? And what about ‘seconds’ or ‘animations’?
Oh, and you’ll also want to give it your location:
Once you click save, you’ll be greeted with something that looks a little like this each time you create a new tab in Chrome.
A game-changer? Nope. But it is a really nice app that’s underpinned by minimalist design aesthetics.
hopping. Social networking. Emailing. Reading. Finding directions. Banking. Researching. Those are some of the most common tasks people perform on the World Wide Web. You’ve probably done all of these things yourself at some point. So if you’re like many people, you probably do these things every single week (and many of them even every day).
This blog you’re reading now, Smashing Magazine, normally publishes content that’s intended for graphic designers, Web designers, and Web developers of varying skill levels. But today, this article is for the rest of you—the non-programmers, the everyday Web users.
We at Smashing Magazine, along with designers and developers worldwide, want you to have the absolute best possible experience on the Web. In fact, in the design and development community, we spend countless hours every week discussing and researching the standards and practices that we know will make your experience on the Web infinitely greater.
But the browser you’re using could be limiting that potential. So please read on, so you can learn how to drastically improve your experience on the Web.
Your Browser Is Too Old
Everyone that accesses Web pages on a desktop computer uses a Web browser. Without a Web browser you cannot view or interact with websites. How do you personally access websites like Facebook and YouTube? You might commonly use the program that opens when you click the big blue “e” icon on your desktop. Here’s what it looks like:
This is the logo for Internet Explorer, a Web browser.
This “e” icon is not a shortcut to a generic “internet” or “Web” program. It is a shortcut to a Web browser made by Microsoft, called “Internet Explorer” (also referred to as “IE”). Over the past 17 years, this browser has been the most popular Web browser. At one time, it was arguably the best browser you could use. But that is not true anymore.
Internet Explorer is currently at version 9, and version 10 is supposed to be officially released some time this year. But most people are not using IE9—most Web users that use Microsoft’s browser are still using a less stable, insecure, slow version of IE (either IE8 or something older).
The truth is, even IE9 (which is a huge improvement over previous versions of Internet Explorer) is not as up-to-date as other browsers. So if you’re still using some version of Internet Explorer, we strongly recommend that you upgrade to a different browser. To help you upgrade, we have some options for you to consider.
But before we introduce those other browsers to you, let’s quickly cover some reasons why older browsers like IE7 and IE8 aren’t as good.
What’s Wrong With Old Browsers?
Old browsers (especially Internet Explorer versions 6, 7, and 8) are less stable, and much more vulnerable to viruses, spyware, malware, and other security issues. Those are obviously big problems to be concerned about—especially for people who shop online. So security alone is a very good reason to upgrade. But there’s more to it than that.
OLD BROWSERS ARE SLOW AND MORE LIKELY TO CRASH
Firstly, old browsers are very slow. Every Web page that loads in a browser has to perform a number of different tasks. One of those tasks is the process of loading different files. These files include images, programming scripts, and other resources that help improve the look and functionality of the website you’re visiting. Old browsers do not perform these tasks with the same speed as new browsers. This makes your experience on the Web considerably slow, and can sometimes cause your browser to crash or freeze.
Browsers like IE8 will freeze and crash more often than newer browsers.
OLD BROWSERS CAN’T DISPLAY MANY NEW WEBSITES
New browsers support new Web technologies (like HTML5 and CSS3). These languages serve as a foundation for many websites today, and for virtually all new websites and Web apps. But unfortunately, many of these new websites will neither look nor function in the same way in old browsers like IE8.
To demonstrate this problem, take a look at the two images below. These images are screenshots taken from an infographic Web page that covers Rainforest Deforestation. The first image shows the page as it appears in IE8:
A Web page displayed in IE8.
Now look at the same page in a new browser like Chrome, or Firefox:
The same Web page displayed in Google Chrome.
IE8 has many problems on this page: Many of the graphical elements are not appearing, all the animations are missing, and even some of the text looks misaligned. This is caused by the fact that the page is built with new Web design technologies that old browsers like IE8 don’t support.
New Browser Options
Now that you understand why it’s highly recommended to upgrade an old browser, let’s take a look at what options you have for a new browser, and what strengths these browsers have. Please notice that switching to one of these browsers is free and won’t take more than a couple of minutes.
In May 2012, according to at least one statistics website, Google Chrome (all versions combined) became the most popular browser in the world (compared to IE, all versions combined). Chrome was first released in 2008, and has a number of advantages over old browsers like IE8.
Firefox has been the main competitor to Internet Explorer since the mid-2000′s. Although Google’s Chrome has become more popular in recent years, Firefox is a great browser with many advantages over old browsers.
Compared to other browsers, Opera isn’t used as much, but it has been around since the mid-90′s. Opera has always been at the forefront of browser innovation and supports many of the latest technologies and features that make websites faster and more feature-rich.
This is the same browser that’s commonly used on iPhones and iPads. Safari’s features are very similar to Google’s Chrome, and has been around since 2003.
Why Are New Browsers Better?
The browsers listed above have a number of advantages over older browsers, including:
- Far fewer instances of crashing or freezing.
- Much more secure from virus, malware, and browser hijacking attacks.
- Much faster page-loading.
- Larger page-viewing area.
- A large variety of useful optional plugins and add-ons that add extra features to improve Web browsing.
- Unlike IE9 and the upcoming IE10, they can be installed on Windows XP.
- New browsers will automatically update to the latest version, or will notify you to download an update.
ABOUT AUTOMATIC UPDATING
The last point in the list above mentions the fact that new browsers will automatically notify you of an update—this is a good thing. When you have a browser that’s kept up-to-date automatically, you get a number of important benefits in addition to those already mentioned. These include:
- You’ll rarely, if ever, come across a website that says “your browser cannot view this website”.
- If any known security vulnerabilities are present, they will be fixed automatically.
- Every time your browser is upgraded, your browser becomes faster, meaning that the time you spend waiting for pages to load will be minimal.
Old browsers like IE7 and IE8 will not automatically notify you to update, so if you continue to use an old browser, your experience on the Web will become less secure (and less enjoyable as the months go by).
EXTENSIONS AND ADD-ONS
As mentioned in the bullet list above, one of the features of new browsers is the ability to add extensions, plugins, and add-ons. The Chrome Web Store features hundreds of useful extensions, including:
- Facebook Notifications, which lets you keep up with friends’ activities even when you’re not on Facebook.
- Add to Amazon Wish List, which lets you add virtually any product from any website to your Amazon wish list.
- Google Dictionary, which lets you see the definition of any word by simply double-clicking on it.
What about add-ons for Firefox? Well, in addition to extensions similar to those mentioned above for Chrome, some popular and useful choices include:
- Video DownloadHelper, which lets you easily download and convert video, audio, and photos from YouTube and similar websites.
- WOT—Safe Surfing, which shows you which websites you can trust, based on millions of users’ experiences.
- FastestFox, which helps you save time and increase productivity by speeding up repetitive tasks inside the browser.
However, Chrome and Firefox are not the only new browsers that offer these types of extensions and add-ons. You can browse the extensions for Safari and for Opera, if you choose one of those browsers instead.
“All My Bookmarks Are In Internet Explorer!”
Everyone has bookmarks (or “Favorites”, as they’re called in IE) in the browser they use regularly, and it’s a valid concern if you don’t want to switch because all of your bookmarks are in your old browser. But moving your bookmarks from the old browser to the new one is not difficult at all.
For instructions on how to transfer your bookmarks to your new browser, check out the Browsing Better website. When you visit the page, click on the icon for the browser you’re currently using, and follow the instructions from the images that appear.
You can easily move your bookmarks from IE to your new browser.
“I Won’t Upgrade—I’m Happy With Internet Explorer!”
Even after everything you’ve read above, you might still have reservations about upgrading to a different browser. Well, there’s one final option you may consider. You can keep using Internet Explorer while getting a similar speed and viewing experience as found in Google Chrome by installing an add-on to Internet Explorer called Chrome Frame.
Chrome Frame is an add-on that enables new Web technologies like HTML5 and CSS3 in Internet Explorer versions 6, 7, 8, and 9. As long as the Web page you’re viewing has a specific piece of code in it, you’ll get an experience very similar to Google Chrome—even when using an older version of Internet Explorer.
Installing Chrome Frame is fast, easy, and free. Chrome Frame is completely invisible and will not change anything about the way you access Web pages in Internet Explorer. But it will provide the same speed and viewing experience that Google’s Chrome browser has, without needing to switch browsers. (However, if you’re in a business environment, you might want to contact your system administrator before installing it because some legacy sites might not be displayed properly. — thanks for the note, Jochem Bokkers!)
WHAT ABOUT LOCKED-DOWN SYSTEMS?
If you’re on a system at your place of employment where you’re not able to upgrade or download a new browser, Chrome Frame is a viable option. You don’t need any special administrator privileges to install Chrome Frame, so you can keep using the same version of Internet Explorer, and almost instantly have a far superior browsing experience that’s identical to using the latest version of Google Chrome.
There are countless reasons to upgrade your old browser and start using something new and up-to-date. So trust us when we say that your experience on the Web will be infinitely better if you choose to do this.
Whatever you’re doing on the Web—reading email, shopping, banking, or anything else—a new browser will allow your experience to be safer, faster, and much more beautiful.
Downloading a BitTorrent file isn’t the most complicated thing in the world, but as with all technology, making things easier is just fine by me.
The process usually requires the download of a piece of software, or BitTorrent client, such as uTorrent. Not a big deal, but if you’ve recently switched machines, it might be the piece of software that you’ve forgotten to install.
This Chrome extension, called OneClick, which came out of BitTorrent’s Torque Labs, lets you click on a torrent and it will download the files within in it automatically, right in the browser. It’s super handy and takes all things technical out of the torrenting process.
Once it’s installed, everything is pretty straight forward. Simply click on a torrent file, and after a few seconds, the actual files will start downloading, right in the browser.
If your new MacBook is having kernel panics, or you’re forced to run a 32-bit browser in Linux because you need Flash, Google’s brought relief with version 20 of Chrome. While acting sheepish about “yet another release,” the Chrome Blog said “hundreds of bugs” were fixed, including a MacBook resource leak issue which was temporarily patched by disabling some GPU features. Also, Linux users will finally get full 64-bit support for Flash with Adobe’s PPAPI “Pepper” version, but since it was made exclusivelyfor Chrome, Penguin users will be stuck with that browser if they want the feature. To get it, check the source after the br… oh, right, background update. Nevermind.
Over the past several days, Gizmodo has been highlighting freezing and crashing issues on several of its staff’s new MacBook Air models, linking the problems to Google Chrome. Switching to Apple’s Safari browser eliminated all of the issues, and thus the site recommended that owners of the new machines avoid Chrome for the time being.
Google has now issued a statement to Gizmodo acknowledging that Chrome is the culprit and discussing the steps it is taking to address the issue. While Google has disabled some of Chrome’s GPU acceleration on an emergency basis as it seeks to deploy a permanent solution, the company has also filed a bug report with Apple as such issues should not be able to cause an entire system to freeze or crash.
“We have identified a leak of graphics resources in the Chrome browser related to the drawing of plugins on Mac OS X. Work is proceeding to find and fix the root cause of the leak.
The resource leak is causing a kernel panic on Mac hardware containing the Intel HD 4000 graphics chip (e.g. the new Macbook Airs). Radar bug number 11762608 has been filed with Apple regarding the kernel panics, since it should not be possible for an application to trigger such behavior.
While the root cause of the leak is being fixed, we are temporarily disabling some of Chrome’s GPU acceleration features on the affected hardware via an auto-updated release that went out this afternoon (Thursday June 28). We anticipate further fixes in the coming days which will re-enable many or all of these features on this hardware.”
With the issue affecting all systems using Intel HD 4000 graphics, all of Apple’s notebook models released earlier this month are susceptible and owners of the new MacBook Pro models are indeed also reporting the issue.
First launched in September 2008, Chrome has steadily gained in overall popularity among desktop Internet browsers and is currently running neck-and-neck with Firefox for the second position behind Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.