Turbocharge Your Chrome (or Edge) Browser

Category: Browsers

Google Chrome is the most popular Web browser, with a dominant worldwide market share. 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, Edge (and other Chromium-based browsers) 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 Browser Tricks

Chromium is an open-source browser project, and the code base for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and other browsers. In case you're curious about web browser market share, here are the numbers for desktop/laptop users: Chrome: 63.5%, Edge: 11.1%, Safari 13.0; Firefox 6.2%, Opera 3.7%. Source: StatCounter GlobalStats Desktop Browser Market Share Worldwide (as of August 2023).

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. Much quicker than highlighting the text, opening a new tab, launching your search engine, and pasting your search words in the box.

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!

Staying in Sync: Both Chrome and Edge have the option to sign in and sync your browser settings (bookmarks, history, passwords, addresses, phone numbers and preferences) so they are accessible on other devices. If you use a deskop and a smartphone, for example, this can be quite useful.

One final note, Chrome and Edge are just two browsers based on the Chromium code base. You might be interested in checking out Vivaldi or Opera as well. (Firefox, and Safari both use a proprietary code base.)

These are some of my favorite tricks for Chrome, Edge, and other Chromium-based browsers. 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 "Turbocharge Your Chrome (or Edge) Browser"

Posted by:

Ryan James
25 Sep 2023

I have been pleased with Firefox for more than several years so I will stick with it. These tricks are nothing worthy of my changing.

Posted by:

25 Sep 2023

Since you were mentioning Chromium browsers, you missed probably the most privacy-focused Chromium offering, Brave.

Brave browser is a consistently recommended browser by privacy advocates (privacytools.io, restoreprivacy.com). It probably can't compare to privacy-focused browsers which are based on Firefox,
but among Chromium-based browsers, Brave seems to be the best.

Note that Brave doesn't have Google account sync for browser settings and bookmarks. Furthermore, new users may prefer to disable the Brave wallet feature, advertisement backgrounds on the homepage, and change the search engine from Brave Search to Google.

Posted by:

25 Sep 2023

The Shift-Esc key combination is very interesting in FIREFOX.
While reading this article I tried it out forgetting I was using Firefox. It launched a tab captioned Process Monitor. That tab showed about 20 open processes, half of them identifiable as tracking or advertising related (e.g. Doubleclick). This was on a PC that had been booted from cold only 30 minutes earlier.
Closing most of the processes did not affect browser operation.

Posted by:

Gilles Lalancette
26 Sep 2023

Just a little note : I am receiving any image (picture) when I am reading your newsletter ?

Posted by:

26 Sep 2023

"On Edge, there are no dinosaurs ..."
On IE, IE *is* the dinosaur.

Posted by:

26 Sep 2023

These tips are fine but they won’t work with an iPad browser

Posted by:

Arthur Jones
26 Sep 2023

You might mention Brave browser too as Chrome-based. I haven't tried them all, but those I have tried also work with Brave.

Posted by:

Bob Gilson
28 Sep 2023

I believe the comment above by:
Gilles Lalancette
26 Sep 2023

"Just a little note : I am receiving any image (picture) when I am reading your newsletter ?"

I believe it was a typo leaving out the 'NOT' receiving.

I am NOT receiving any images either, and I normally see all the images. Is there a problem or something different about this article?


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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Turbocharge Your Chrome (or Edge) Browser (Posted: 25 Sep 2023)
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