Browsing the internet is something many of us do, and internet browsers like the Chrome browser are the applications we use to do it.
We have a few choices when it comes to the browsers we like to use for this, and we’ve lived through several “browser wars” over the last 20-odd years that have established the pecking order.
As of April 2020, it’s clear that Google’s browser, Chrome, won that fight: Statcounter.com shows that over 60% of the internet-connected population uses Chrome.
As popular as it is, Chrome has some hidden features that a lot of people might not know about. This article will take you through ten things you may not know that Chrome can do. We’ll explore shortcuts to extremely useful functions that can and will make your browsing experience just that much better, in addition to some handy settings that can make your life a little easier.
1. Re-Open Closed Tabs
Accidentally closing tabs can be extremely annoying, but there’s a way to get them back. Immediately on making that mistake, press Control-Shift-T to reopen the last tab that was closed.
2. Scroll up and down with the keyboard
Scrolling down in Chrome is a simple matter of pressing the space bar – one press and the web page will advance on full length. But did you know that you can also scroll up with the keyboard? All you need to do is press Shift-Space and the page will scroll up the screen by one full length.
3. Two-click word look-up
The internet is an invaluable resource for looking up the meaning of words, and entering words into search engines is the easiest way to do that. But it’s not the fastest. Instead of navigating to a search engine page and entering the word there, however, you can cut that step by highlighting the word you want to look up with your mouse, right-clicking on it, and choosing “Search Google for <word>”. This cuts out several steps and takes you right to the definition you were looking for. Handy!
4. Mute sites that play sound
For some reason web designers still build websites that auto-play videos with their audio on. It’s good to know, then, that these can be muted entirely on a per-tab basis without muting all of Chrome at the same time. All you need to do is right-click on the tab that’s playing the sound (Chrome shows a small speaker icon on these) and select Mute from the menu. Blessed silence will ensue.
5. Stop sites from tracking you
Being “followed” around the web can be annoying by sites that track you using cookies (ostensibly so they can learn your content preferences and target you with relevant ads). That makes this next tip incredibly useful. Under Chrome’s Settings, click on Privacy and Security, then Site Settings. Now click Cookies and Site data and activate a setting that says “Block Third Party Cookies. Voila, no more tracking.
6. Avoid sharing your personal browser data with Guess Access
When someone else uses your computer to browse the internet on your Chrome profile, you may not want the sites they visit under your name or to share your personal data with them.
To beat this, you can make other people that use your PC log into Chrome with a Guest profile; this keeps all user profiles separate and your personal data private.
Find this option under ‘Other people’ when you right-click your profile picture in the top right corner of Chrome.
7. See Chrome tabs open on other devices
Chrome keeps a record of all the sites you visit, which are accessible under the browser’s History page. More than just a great way to find that specific site you were looking at on a specific day, the History page can be used to see the tabs you currently have open on your other devices. This a great way to find something you were looking at on another PC or your phone, as well as see a list of recently-closed tabs.
8. Show a list of the pages you’ve recently visited
You know that clicking the Back button takes you to the last page you visited. But did you know that you can bring up a list of the sites you’ve recently visited? Simply click and hold the mouse button down on the Back button, and that list appears for easy navigation.
9. Use Chrome as your File Explorer
It’s possible to use the Chrome browser to browse the files on your PC. You can use it to open files by dragging them onto the Chrome icon, and you can enter drive paths into the address bar to open up that location. For example, type C:\ into the address bar, and the contents of your C:\ drive will appear in Chrome.
10. Stop sites sending you notifications
If you don’t like being asked by the sites you visit if they can know your location or send you notifications when new content arrives, Chrome can suppress those. Simply go to Settings, then Privacy and Security, then Site Settings. Here, under Notifications, either turn ‘Sites can ask to send notifications’ off entirely, or activate the Use quieter messaging, which blocks notification prompts from interrupting you.
And there you have it. Ten handy tips you may not have known that make using the Chrome browser better.