Fun With Google Chrome: 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. Read on to learn about some awesome, advanced, and secret features of Chrome that can make it even more useful...

Wanna Make Chrome Sit Up and Bark?

Perform a calculation: In Chrome’s “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. 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 bi in Chrome’s omnibox. Before you even get to the letter "n" you will see “Press (tab) to search Bing” at the far right end of the omnibox. Press the Tab key and suddenly you are searching only within Bing. You just skipped Bing's home page and typing your query into its search box.

Make Chrome Sit Up and Bark

Chrome maintains a list of “search engines” where this shortcut works, including Bing, eBay and a few others. (Yahoo used to be included in the fun here, but it no longer works for me.) To see the rest, go to the “Search” section of Chrome’s Settings and click on the button labeled “Manage search engines.” You can change your default search engine; modify or delete search engine entries; and way down at the bottom of the list you’ll find 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 Chrome will open a new tab showing all your recent downloads. From there, you can open the downloaded file, or view the folder where it resides.

Restore a tab: Have you ever closed a tab by accident? That can be annoying, especially if it was a website that required a login, and you had navigated through several pages already. You don't have to redo all that work -- just press Ctrl-Shift-T and the tab will reopen, right where you left off. This is one of my favorite time savers in Chrome. You can also press and hold down the back button to see pages you've recently closed.

Multiple Windows For Related Tabs: Have you ever gotten so many tabs opened in Chrome that it’s hard to keep track of them or even read their labels? Just open new Chrome windows (copies of Chrome), then drag-and-drop related tabs into separate windows. Click the triple-line icon in Chrome’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 bookmarks: 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.

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.

Translate whatever you want: You don’t have to depend on Chrome to ask if you want a page translated. Go download and install the Google Translate extension. Now you can highlight any text in your Chrome browser, click on the Translate icon, and there’s your translation (or a reasonable approximation).

Quick Search: Search Google for a phrase that appears on your current page by highlighting it, then right clicking "Search Google for..."

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.

Incognito Mode: will disable browsing history and the storage of cookies, just in case you want to visit a website and not leave any tracks. Just be aware that your ISP (or employer) will still have a record of all websites you visit. Press Ctrl-Shift-N to enter Incognito Mode.

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 on offline condition.

Getting a Little Geeky

Secret Chrome URLs: Enter chrome://chrome-urls/ in the omnibox and press Enter. You'll see a list of "secret" Chrome pages that are shortcuts to Chrome 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.)

Chrome 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 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 Google Chrome: Tips and Tricks"

Posted by:

pdsterling
12 Jan 2018

as a professional luddite, I am sticking with FireFox for the nonce. however, I am quite cross with their *taking*away* by *enhancement* the ability to open a number of tabs at once.

if I am not saying that correctly, I have a bookmark folder called startup, and I used to click that and it would list all my bank accounts and other daily checks, and at the bottom, it would say something like "open all in tabs." now I have to ctrl+B to open book marks and ctrl+T, click bookmark 1, repeat, repeat, repeat, and it makes me a bit cross early in the morning before I have had coffee.


Posted by:

BobD
12 Jan 2018

Nice!
I didn't test all your suggestions, but they sure are familiar -- from Firefox.
Who is copying whom?


Posted by:

clyde
12 Jan 2018

I am staying with FireFox


Posted by:

The Other Al
12 Jan 2018

Many of these topics will work equally well with other browsers like Opera and Firefox.


Posted by:

Briansmac
12 Jan 2018

Your example: "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." I already get this when I enter a word in my url box. I don't even have to press Ctrl-Enter. Chrome already enters the www and the .com for me.


Posted by:

jjklavins
12 Jan 2018

Thanks, Bob - the tab restore trick is most useful :o)


Posted by:

BobC
12 Jan 2018

Firefox used to be my default browser. Now I use Waterfox (https://www.waterfoxproject.org/blog/waterfox-56.0-release-download) as my default. It is similar to Firefox (it was a clone that allowed ALL addons and extensions that the 64-bit Firefox blocked (note: Waterfox is a 64-bit browser). Recently, Waterfox has discontinued being a modified clone of Firefox and is becoming a distinctly separate browser, using a completely separate user profile. So changes to either Firefox or Waterfox will no longer be available in each browser automatically as it did before Waterfox v56. Waterfox v56 will be the last version of Waterfox (for a while) while and entirely new version is developed. One thing to note, while while the latest version of Firefox seems to have a problem (broken link) with Private Windows, Waterfox does not; it works correctly. Another benefit of the separate user profile is that you can now load Firefox and Waterfox, if needed, at the same time. Previously you could not since they shared the same profile. And, Waterfox seems to work faster for me than Firefox.


Posted by:

Frank Starr
12 Jan 2018

I use the browser Vivaldi, which is Google Chrome compatible and uses all of its extensions. I’m going to install the translation one, and then see how many of these tricks work with Vivaldi.


Posted by:

RandiO
12 Jan 2018

I think the ultimate trick with gAnything is the fact that it is not even optional to have a half-brain and remember things [no disrespect to any users]. Some may call that great benefit of gChrome (et al) as tracking unless the working half of your brain remembers to learn how to erase SOME of those foot-steps.
Yes, certainly; there have been some benefits (add-ons) that devout Firefox users have had to forego with the FF v5x. Yet, FF TabSessionManager add-on is still functional along with most features (if not all) mentioned for gChrome. I don't think the 'dinosaur on a desert landscape' feature is going to convince the FF die-hards to switch.
But I have to admit that google is becoming most difficult to avoid… along the foot-steps of the Borg!


Posted by:

NB
12 Jan 2018

They work in the MS Edge browser too. Except the Dino game!


Posted by:

bb
12 Jan 2018

pdsterling: "Open all in Tabs" is still in Firefox. I found it with a right-click on a bookmark folder.


Posted by:

GJ
12 Jan 2018

I use Vivaldi primarily, Firefox as well. I run Malwarebytes Pro (lifetime license) and every time I open Chrome it drops 5 tracking programs my Malwarebytes scan id's as "PUPs". Quarantines and deletes them. They're not malware but they do annoy me. And I absolutely insist on a file edit view menu, I've not really used Chrome since they took that away - without asking. FF does things like that too which always annoys me.

So I open Chrome almost never. Vivaldi runs fine on my Win 10 machine and my MacBookPro as well. I really like being able to customize the browser FF has lost some of that but Chrome is just "our way or the highway" and with that attitude, I choose highway.


Posted by:

Brian
13 Jan 2018

Typing bi in Chrome’s omnibox just brings up the last site I visited starting with bi.


Posted by:

Kathryn
13 Jan 2018

Related to your "Multiple Windows For Related Tabs" (great tip btw), when I want to open multiple links on a particular website, I click onto the tab of the website and pull it downward. Now it is a brand new window with lots of space to open more tabs. Thank you for another informative article.


Posted by:

Steve
13 Jan 2018

I dislike using Google Chrome because of it tracking my browsing. If I look at a product on a merchant site, that product will show up repeatedly while browsing other sites. I find it creepy and intrusive. Secondly, Google blocks apps that copy you tube videos. I prefer to use Firefox.


Posted by:

Chuck
14 Jan 2018

I haven't yet found a good reason to leave Firefox since its origin as Netscape. It has been a trusted faithful tool that is there for the user rather than for any financial gain.


Posted by:

Yehuda
14 Jan 2018

Hi!
Many of these do not work on Chrome for Linux.
Just saying!


Posted by:

VILAS
14 Jan 2018

very good
commands / key shorts may be presented in tabulation formats for easy search


Posted by:

Phil Sherwin
16 Jan 2018

The Chrome tips are interesting. I like this browser's speed and simplicity. However the one feature which keeps me tied to FireFox is the way FF handles RSS news feeds. these can be dragged onto the bookmark toolbar folder and then hovering the mouse over each feed expands it to show all the articles on a page. This also works with CLIQZ
a derivative of FF. Chromes inability to do this makes it a poor relation.


Posted by:

Michelle Rapier
16 Jan 2018

For pdsterling who commented about Firefox and opening the same multiple tabs each day, try the add-on called Morning Coffee Quantum which lets you enter what sites you want to see every day (and on specific days if you don't want them every day). To enter the sites you want, Tools, Add-ons, click on Options for Morning Coffee Quantum, scroll down the page and you'll see where you can enter all the sites and save them. Then, you just click the coffee cup icon on the toolbar and all your sites for that day are opened in tabs. I've been using Morning Coffee for a few years and love it.


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