Fun With Chrome (and Edge) - Tips and Tricks

Category: Browsers

Google’s Chrome browser is the most widely used browser, worldwide. Perhaps you've been using it for years, but there's always a new trick to discover. And now that Microsoft Edge is built on the same Chromium codebase, they look and work much the same. Read on to learn about some awesome, advanced, and semi-secret features of Chrome and Edge that can make them even more useful…

Make Your Browser Sit Up and Bark

Want to improve your browser savvy, boost your productivity, or just score a few geek points at your next gathering? Try some of these Chrome and Edge browser tips, and commit them to memory. If you feel generous, you might even share this page with your tech-challenged friends.

Perform a calculation: In the “omnibox” (generally known as the address box), you can enter a mathematical calculation such as 60*60, and the result will appear even before you press Enter, in a dropdown below the omnibox. With Chrome, you can also ask things like "how many ounces in a cup" or "how many liters in a gallon" to get instant answers without leaving the page.

Quickly enter a web address: For example, type amazon in the omnibox and press Ctrl-Enter. Chrome will add the "www." and the ".com" and whisk you away to www.amazon.com.

Direct site search: - Start typing yah in the omnibox. Before you even get to the letters “oo” you will see “Press (tab) to search Yahoo” at the far right end of the omnibox. Press the Tab key and suddenly you are searching only within Yahoo. You just skipped Yahoo's home page and typing your query into its search box.

Make Chrome Sit Up and Bark

Chrome and Edge maintain a list of “search engines” where this shortcut works. To see the list, go to the “Search” section in Settings and click the link labeled “Manage search engines.” You can change your default search engine; modify or delete search engine entries; and there’s a form where you can add your own searchable site that you search often. Note that it can be a news or shopping or any other kind of site, as long as it has a “search” box of its own. This feature is also sensitive to sites you often use. I've noticed that as soon as I type the letter "a" in the omnibox, it shows “Press (tab) to search askbobrankin.com”.

Find your downloads: Have you ever downloaded something, and then couldn't find it? Press Ctrl-J and you’ll see a new tab showing all your recent downloads. From there, you can open the downloaded file, or view the folder where it resides.

Re-open Accidentally Closed Tabs: Here’s a little trick I use several times each day. If you accidentally close a tab, press Ctrl+Shift+T to quickly reopen it. Pressing Ctrl+Shift+T repeatedly will open previously closed tabs, in the order they were closed. You can also check your browser history (press Ctrl+H), where recently visited websites are listed. One benefit of viewing your browser history is that you can also see closed browser windows, and sites that you viewed in the recent past. Your History page lists the web pages you've visited in the last 90 days, with the exception of pages visited in Incognito mode.

Incognito Mode: The Incognito Mode offered by Chrome and Edge’s “InPrivate Browsing” allows you to open a new browser window that won't save your browsing history, cookies, or information entered in forms. When you close that window, no trace of your activity remains on your computer, with the exception of any files you downloaded or bookmarks you created during the incognito session. It’s important to note that your activity in an Incognito session isn’t hidden from websites you visit, your employer or school, or your internet service provider. So in practical terms, Incognito Mode only hides your activity from others who may have access to your computer.

To go incognito, click the “three dots” icon in the top right corner. Click 'new incognito window' on Chrome, or 'new InPrivate window' on Edge. You can also press Ctrl+Shift+N to open an incognito window, or open a link on a web page in Incognito Mode. Right-click on the link and select “Open in an incognito window.”

On a related note, you may want to check on other data that Google collects. See my article What Does Google Know About You (and How Can You Delete it)? If you have a Microsoft account and use Edge, see your Microsoft account privacy settings.

Multiple Windows For Related Tabs: Have you ever gotten so many tabs opened that it’s hard to keep track of them or even read their labels? Just open new browser windows, then drag-and-drop related tabs into separate windows. Click the three-dots icon in the browser’s upper-right corner and select “New Window” to open one. Switch back to your overcrowded window and use your mouse to drag and drop the tab to the new window. You can now organize many tabs in many windows, with their label fully viewable. This works especially well on dual-monitor systems, but you can still have multiple browser windows on a single screen. (Use Alt-Tab to switch between open windows.)

More Fun With Chrome

Add a bookmark: That little star at the far right end of the omnibox is a quick way to add a new bookmark. Just click it to add the current web page address to the last bookmark folder you used, or select another from the list of recent folders. (Edge calls them Favorites.)

Zoom in or out quickly: Press and hold the Ctrl key while rolling the mouse wheel up or down. You’ll zoom in or out on the current page; very handy for pages where the font is too small, or if you have limited vision. Using the Ctrl key along with the plus or minus key has the same effect. To return to the default zoom state, press Ctrl+0 (that's a zero). On a Mac, use the Command key instead of Ctrl.

Quick Search: Search the Web for a phrase that appears on your current page by highlighting it, right-click, them select the "Search for…" option.

Startup Options: Go into the “On startup” section in Chrome’s settings and select “Continue where you left off” or "Open a specific set of pages" to control what happens when you start Chrome.

Clear Browsing Data: An alternative to Incognito Mode is the option to clear some of all of your browsing data. Press Ctrl-Shift-Delete, and a window will open which gives you the option to delete items from a specific time range. Click the Advanced tab there for even more data scrubbing options.

Offline Fun: If you try to load a page when you’re offline, and you’ll see little dinosaur on a desert landscape. Press the spacebar and the Dino Game begins! Use the up arrow to jump over a cactus, or die. To try it, there's no need to unplug your network cable, or turn off your wifi adapter. Just enter chrome://network-error/-106 in the omnibox to simulate an offline condition. On Edge, there are no dinosaurs, but if you press “Launch Game” you can play a surfing simulation.

Getting a Little Geeky

Secret Browser URLs: Enter chrome://chrome-urls/ in the omnibox and press Enter. You'll see a list of "secret" pages that are shortcuts to browser functions, settings and status pages. Most of them appear to be gibberish, unless you're a programmer, but there are a few links you might find interesting. The chrome://omnibox link lets you control some things about how the omnibox works. The chrome://predictors/ page shows you what websites Chrome thinks you might be wanting to visit when you start typing a URL. The chrome://flags/ page has a list of experimental features that you can enable or disable. I wouldn't mess with any of these without first doing some research. (Experiments can sometimes fail.) On Edge, use edge://edge-urls/ to access this list of URLs.

Browser Task Manager: See how much memory and CPU is being used for each tab and extension. Press Shift-Esc to open the task manager.

Behind the Scenes: Right-click a page, then select "View page source" to see the underlying HTML code for the page. Kind of like looking at the source code for a program, and a good way to learn how some nifty features are implemented.

Under the Hood: Right-click a page, then select "Inspect" to enter a world of data related to the HTML, CSS, images and other elements on the page. You can even edit the structure and content of the page!

These are some of my favorite Chrome and Edge tricks. I'm sure there are dozens of others. Feel free to share yours in the comments below.

 
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Most recent comments on "Fun With Chrome (and Edge) - Tips and Tricks"

Posted by:

Stuart Berg
28 Oct 2020

The greatest browser annoyance to me is accidentally "Xing" out of a Chrome browser when all I wanted to do is close one tab of multiple tabs I have open. The solution is simple:

As soon as you accidentally exit the browser, immediately restart your browser and then press Ctrl-Shift-T. All the tabs you last had opened from your previous session will open in a new instance of Google Chrome.

(Note: Mozilla Firefox does NOT have this problem because it can ask if you want to close all the tabs you have open when there is more than one. It's too bad no Chrome based browser can do that yet.)


Posted by:

Ryan James
28 Oct 2020

I thought Chrome was a resource hog making Firefox much better.
However, lately, Firefox has been crashing continually, so I may just switch over.


Posted by:

Martin
28 Oct 2020

Many thanks to Stuart Berg for that Ctrl-Shift-T tip to reopen an accidentally closed session in Chrome!


Posted by:

MartinW
28 Oct 2020

Thanks to Ryan James above. Chrome IS a resource hog, but Firefox has been getting slower and slower and frequently hanging (freezing) on all my Windows computers. (Interestingly, it runs better on Linux.) Whatever else, Vivaldi has been my go-to browser for the past year.


Posted by:

Chuck
28 Oct 2020

Thanks for showing these shortcuts Bob. I have been a Firefox user since early Netscape days, with only occasional endeavors into using other browsers. I tried most of your tips in Firefox and found that they performed the same results, but I was previously oblivious to some of these keyboard equivalents standard menu commands. For more than 25 years of unsurpassed, non-commercial and secure service, I will remain a Firefox user. And BTW - I have had Firefox crash maybe a dozen times in all those years.


Posted by:

JP
28 Oct 2020

For even more fun, give Vivaldi try.

vivaldi.com/features/

Close a tab or two by mistake, or just want to go back to one after a while? No need to exit and restart the browser. There's a button to click to choose from the last few tabs, or just press CTRL and click that button to open the last one you closed.

The browser also is available for multiple platforms.


Posted by:

gene
28 Oct 2020

What you didn't say, Bob, was that ALL of those tricks are available in any chromium based browser including those that do not track you as Chrome, and I presume, Edge does. Reopen an inadvertently closed tab? (simple in Vivaldi, Just click the trash can at the end of the tab row), Firefox and Brave, the three I use most now. Vivaldi is my default but I use Firefox as much and have noticed it is slow to fire up but once going it is great and has more tools than these to offer. It also doesn't track your every key stroke. I use start.duckduckgo as my search engine for the same reason, no tracking and the results are outstanding. So, I'll continue to avoid Chrome and Edge as there are better, in my experience, options.


Posted by:

Mikey M
28 Oct 2020

Pretty cool stuff. Chrome will always be my second browser of choice.

I thought it was rude when Google removed my download manager from Chrome, right on my desktop--because it didn't come from the Google Play Store. That experience dulled my enthusiasm for Chrome.


Posted by:

RandiO
28 Oct 2020

Thank you for all of these fun Chrome features, which all sound like derivatives of FireFox. Like Chuck, I have not been witnessing any mis-behaviors with FireFox (even with too many extensions and plug-ins).
How does a Chrome/Edge user open a link in a new tab (Right-Click Option or Ctrl-Click action) and automatically “Switch” to it; instead of the tab opening in a ‘background’ tab?
There are now over 1511 Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) and the old trick with Ctrl+Enter has become a relic.


Posted by:

Dave H.
28 Oct 2020

If you've got too many tabs open, no need to open another window first. Just right click on any tab, and one of the options will be "Open tab in new window." Bingo.


Posted by:

Robert A.
28 Oct 2020

Has anyone tried using the new CCleaner browser? It was offered during a CCleaner update, but I passed, figuring that I had Edge, Opera, Vivaldi and Firefox as alternatives.


Posted by:

gtodon
30 Oct 2020

I prefer keyboard shortcuts to using my mouse. A quicker way to open a new window is Ctrl-N. And a quicker way to bookmark a tab is Ctrl-D. To bookmark all your tabs, Ctrl-Shift-D.


Posted by:

Bill
01 Nov 2020

Firefox has had many of these features for years. I have no crashing issues so it may be something local to you if yours is doing that.


Posted by:

David M
12 Nov 2020

One tiny but very off-putting issue for Edge v. Chrome (and others) is that Edge double-spaces the Favorites list. This may not sound important but it is very inefficient, and have a look online at the number of people who refuse to use Edge simply because of this! Microsoft told me that they were working on a fix but I've not seen it yet. Perhaps it will come in the 20H2 update now being rolled out...


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