Show of hands - how many of you are still clinging to Firefox not because it's the perfect browser, but because it's the best alternative out there to Internet Explorer? Probably a good many of you, and the reason why Firefox has been so hard to supplant as the No. 2 gateway to the Web is because Mozilla had the foresight to make it extensible. Thousands of add-ons exist allowing users to custom tailor the open- source browser however they see fit, and it only takes a few mouse clicks to do so.
Well move over Mozilla, and make room for Google Chrome. Why is that? To start with, Google recently added extension support to Chrome, which was previously only available in beta builds. Now that Google has given users the green light to install third-party add-ons, it's a brand new ballgame in the browser world. And in case you haven't heard, Chrome also supports Greasemonkey scripts, of which there are over 40,000 to choose from.
But those aren't the only reasons to give Chrome a second look. Google continues to tweak the underlying code and add features to what's already a fast, lean, and intelligent browser. Chrome is also highly tweakable, though you wouldn't know it by glancing at the sparse interface.
On the following pages, we'll show you how to soup up Chrome so you can leave Firefox in the rear view mirror and never look back!
Don't fret if you've spent years learning Firefox's shortcut keys, most of the basic ones are retained in Chrome, such as opening a new window or tab. This makes transitioning to Chrome a piece of cake, though there are more than a handful that are specific to Chrome only. Whether Chrome- specific or cross-browser, here's a list of some of our favorites:
Address Bar Shorcuts
Other Shortcut Tips
To quickly delete a specific entry from your browsing history that shows up in the drop-down menu of your address bar, highlight the entry and press Shift+Delete. And to select the first or last entry in the drop-down menu, press the Page Up or Page Down key.
These are just some of the shortcuts you can use in Chrome (and Windows). For a full list, see Google's support page here, which also lists shortcuts applicable to Mac and Linux users.
Once you've mastered a few handy keyboard shortcuts, it's time to shift focus to your other input peripheral, the computer mouse. Learn these as well and you'll be surfing the Web at record speed.
One of our favorite tricks involves navigating back or forth through our page history. We often find ourselves venturing several links deep on a webpage. If you're like most users, you probably think that going back to the beginning means mashing the back button repeatedly and hoping you don't overshoot your target, but there's a much easier way. Simply click and hold on the Back or Forward button to see a list of links you've navigated. You can also right-click to bring up this drop-down menu of links.
Another handy feature in Chrome, and that one that isn't duplicated in Firefox (not out of the box, anyway) is the ability to paste a link and go directly to it without ever hitting the Enter key. Just right-click the address bar and select 'Paste and go'.
Particularly handy for bloggers but also useful for forum posts, Webmail, and other online forms, you can resize any text area in Chrome. All you need to do is click and drag the lower right corner.
If you need to quickly resize an entire webpage, hold down the CTRL key and scroll up (enlarge) or down (decrease) with your mouse's scroll wheel. To reset the page back to normal, either scroll back to the appropriate size, or press CTRL+0.
Maybe you always want to hide your tracks when surfing the Web and are only interested in Chrome's Incognito mode. Or perhaps you're trying to speed things up by disabling Java, Flash, plugins, and other features. By utilizing startup switches, you can manipulate how Chrome loads up. Here's how.
Right-click the Chrome shortcut on your desktop or Taskbar and select Properties. Navigate to the Shortcut tab and pay attention to the Target field. This is where you'll be entering in command line switches. Depending on which OS you're using and where you installed Chrome, you should see something like this:
When you find a switch you want to use, append it to the end, making sure to leave a space in between chrome.exe and the switch.
There are a lot of things you can accomplish with switches, and we're going to share some of them here. To add a Bookmarks button Chrome's toolbar, you would use the command line switch -bookmark- menu. The full path in the Target field would then read:
C:\Users \[USERNAME]\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Applications\chrome.exe -bookmark-menu
We don't necessarily recommend using all of these, but if you want to try speeding up Chrome, you can disable a handful of functions with these switches (separate each one with a space when entering them in):
See here for a list of more switches you can experiment with. And remember, if you don't like the effect, all you have to do is remove them!
You probably have a handful of sites you visit every morning, right after you finish checking your email and before getting down to business. Maybe you surf to ESPN for your sports news, Maximum PC for all things tech, and The New York Times for world events. So which one takes precedence as your browser's home page?
In Chrome, it can be all of them! It doesn't matter how many pages you surf to when you first fire up your browser, Chrome will happily open each one, whether you regularly visit just a couple of sites, or a dozen or more.
To take advantage of this feature, click on the Tools button (wrench icon) and select Options. Under the Basics tab, click the 'Open the following pages' radio button where it says 'On startup.' Mash the Add button to select from a list of recently visited Websites, or manually enter the URL.
Quick, how many search engines can you rattle off? Most of you probably came up with 5 or 6, and a few of you may be able to recite 10 more. But the number of search engines you can configure with Chrome is pretty close to endless. More on that in a minute, let's first look at how to change the default option.
It should come as no big surprise that Chrome ships with Google as its default search engine, but maybe you'd rather use Bing. No problem, just navigate to Tools>Options and click on the Basics tab. Towards the bottom third of the window is where you can select from a list of search engines. Just choose the one you want from the pull-down menu and click Close.
Pretty basic, right? Now here's where things start to get a little more fun. With Chrome, search is made super easy for any site Chrome recognizes has a search engine. Want to search for Die Antwoord videos on YouTube? Start typing YouTube's address in the Omnibar and a message will appear on the right- hand side saying 'Press tab to search youtube.com.' Do as it says (hit the tab key) and type in your search term.
To speed things up even more, you can customize your search engines with keywords. To create a keyword for MaximumPC.com, for example, you would click on Tools>Options. Bring up the Basics tab and press the Manage button located next to Default Search. This brings up a window showing all the search engines Chrome currently recognizes. Scroll down and see if MaximumPC.com is already there. If so, highlight it and click on Edit. If not, mash the Add button instead.
We want to create a keyword that tells Chrome to search MaximumPC.com with Google. There are three fields we need to fill in, the first being the name. We can name this Maximum PC, or if we want to be more specific, we can name it Maximum PC Google. For the keyword, we'll use the letters 'mpc.' And for the search URL, here's what it should read:
Now whenever you want to perform a Google search for content only on MaximumPC.com, you would type mpc into the Omnibar and press tab, followed by your search term.
But wait, there's more! We can use a similar trick to setup a custom search engine that's already integrated onto a Website. We'll again use MaximumPC.com for our example, but this will work with any site that has a search function. What we're after is the URL that pops up when performing a search, so in this example, perform a search on Maximum PC for 'Intel' or any other term. Hit return and notice the URL. It should read:
Copy the above URL to your clipboard. Next, right-click the Omnibar and select Edit Search Engines. Press the Add button and fill out the fields like you did above (Name, Keyword, URL), only this time, replace the search term ('Intel') with %s. Your fields should look similar to this:
Name: Maximum PC Search
If you often search through Google Images, this little trick can be a huge time saver. Just use the following URL when creating a custom search engine:
Nobody can accuse Google of standing still, and one of the coolest things about Chrome -- and all Google products, really -- is that it's constantly being developed. We're not talking about lame additions either (though some forgettable features inevitably pass Q&A), but useful, and sometimes unique additions. You can especially see this with Gmail, where a ton of experimental add-ons exist under the Labs tab, but Chrome keeps moving forward as well.
Unfortunately, Google has also built a reputation for being content to let coveted features sit in beta for far too long. We supposed this is a better alternative than playing with a half-baked product, but never was the frustration higher than when we sat waiting patiently for Chrome to add support for extensions.
But here's something you may not have known. While extensions and other features are relatively new additions to Chrome, beta users have been enjoying them for months. Ready for some good news? There's no requirement to meet or registration form to fill out in order to be a beta tester, you just have to be willing to put up with potentially buggy code. And if that doesn't scare you off in the slightest, you may want to consider joining the Dev channel, which is sort of like paying with alpha code. Let's break these down.
Chrome Dev Channel
Dev, as you probably guessed, is short for developer, and that's who this channel is really targeted towards. However, there's nothing stopping you or anyone else from joining Chrome's Dev channel and playing with freshly baked features. Just be warned that these are often not yet fully cooked, so they may be broken, unstable, or ultimately destined for the dust bin.
Chrome Beta Channel
As any frequent beta can attest, beta software can range from horribly unstable to surprisingly refined. Google's beta products tend to lean towards the latter, and Chrome is no exception. That doesn't mean you won't ever experience crashes or other quirky behavior with a Chrome beta build, but we've found these incidents to be pretty few and far between. Plus, Google only promotes complete and stable features from the Dev channel to the Beta channel, so it's a great way to get a jump on upcoming functionality before they go public.
Where to Join
Joining one of these channels entails installing the appropriate version of Chrome (developer or beta build), and once you do, you'll automatically be updated to later versions as they become available. Use these links:
More Info: http://dev.chromium.org/getting-involved/dev-channel
Dev Channel: http://www.google.com/chrome/eula.html?extra=devchannel
Beta Channel: http://www.google.com/chrome/eula.html? extra=betachannel
There are few different reasons for wanting to create separate profiles in Chrome. For one, maybe you have a hankering for, um, 'entertaining' sites, but you don't want the URLs to show up as search suggestions when someone else is using the PC. Yes, that's what Incognito mode is for (well, one of the things), but not everyone wants to load up a stealthy browser just for certain sites. On top of that, once you exit Incognito, all your history for that session is gone, not just the illicit variety.
Another reason for separate profiles is simply to stay organized. If your kids use your PC, do you really want Chrome suggesting Sponge Bob and Twilight links when you're surfing the Web? Probably not, and the more people you let use your PC, the harder it is to sift through your history when you want to find a specific link.
Ready to create a profile? You'll need to navigate to Chrome's User Data folder on your hard drive. Depending on which OS you own, you'll find this folder by navigating to:
C:\Document and Settings\[USERNAME]\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data
Windows Vista and Windows 7*
*Note that you may need to enable viewing hidden files and folders. Open up My Computer, press Alt, and select Tools>Folder Options. Select the View tab and check the 'Show hidden files, folders, and drives' radio button.
Next, make a copy of the Default folder in the above location. Just right-click and select copy, and then paste it into the same directory. To save space, and to give the new profile a fresh start, it's a good idea to clear your browser cache before doing this.
When you paste the copied folder, Windows will name it Default - Copy, or something similar. Go ahead and rename this to whatever you want to call your new profile (right-click, rename). When you're finished, navigate back to Chrome's Application Data folder (or Application on Vista and Windows 7). Right-click chrome.exe and select Create Shortcut.
Right-click the new shortcut you just created and select Properties. Bring up the Shortcut tab, and in the Target field, cut/paste the following:
C:\Documents and Settings\[USERNAME]\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe –user-data-dir="..\User Data\[PROFILE NAME] "
Windows Vista and Windows 7
C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application \chrome.exe –user-data-dir="..\User Data\[PROFILE NAME] "
Save the changes and then drag the new shortcut to your desktop, and be sure to rename it so you can keep track of which shortcut launches your profile.
If you don't want to go through all that trouble of creating a new profile, there's a free program called Google Chrome Backup (not affiliated with Google) that streamlines the process. You can also use this to backup and restore profiles, and all with just a few self-explanatory mouse clicks. You can download the program here.
Special About pages are nothing new when it comes to browsers, and while Chrome doesn't have a tweakable about:config page like Firefox does, there are plenty of other commands recognized by Chrome. To access them, you type the command in the Ominbar just like you would a Web address. Here are some of the more useful ones.
One of the things that helps give Chrome its zip is a feature called DSN prefetching, or otherwise known as pre-resolving. The idea here is that rather than wait for DNS to resolve domain names, Chrome takes a proactive approach by resolving domain names while a user views a webpage. According to Google, this can result in an average of 250ms faster load times when first visiting a domain than with traditional browser.
Type about:dns into the Omnibar allows you see data about which sites are cached and how many of them have benefited from this technique.
This one lists all the items contained in Chrome's cache, with each one hyperlinked.
Need proof that Firefox's well-documented memory leak still exists? There are several ways to get it, including typing about:memory in Chromes Omnibar. Doing so brings up a page displaying all kinds of memory stats, such as how much total RAM Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers are chewing up, as well as breaks down Chrome's individual processes and tabs.
Displays a list of installed plugins, like Silverlight, QuickTime, Winamp, Hulu Desktop, and any others. Also tells you which ones are enabled, and some of them include short descriptions.
Just like the 'About Google Chrome' link accessible via the Tools menu, only more detailed. In addition to the overall browser version, this also displays the WebKit version and V8 engine info.
There are a handful of other About pages to play around with, including:
About:Internets (Windows XP only)
Probably one of the biggest complaints (or benefits, depending on who you ask) with Chrome is the browser's minimalistic interface. There just isn't much to look at, and quite frankly, it's bland. That might be okay in some circumstances, but if you've taken the time to deck out your desktop (like we showed you in our Rainmeter guide), then why not spend some time getting your browser to match?
Applying a theme couldn't be easier. Just head over to Chrome's Themes Gallery, browser around, and mash whichever 'Apply theme' suits you.
Don't be bashful about trying out different looks. If you don't like, just hit the Undo button that appears immediately after installing a theme. If you've already closed the box and/or want to revert back to the default look, navigate to Tools>Options, select the Personal Stuff tab, and press 'Reset to default theme.'
While you're browsing themes, be sure to also check out www.chromethemes.org for even more great looks.
Whenever your system starts to feel sluggish, one of the first things you do is hit up the Task manager (CTRL+ALT+DEL) so you can audit every process and piece of software that's running. But did you know that Chrome comes with its own Task Manager?
It does, and it's pretty informative. To access it, just press Shift+Esc. By default, you'll be shown a basic view of running Chrome processes and how much memory and CPU percentage each one is using, as well some network stats. If you run into a problematic plugin or tab that's simply taking up too much memory, just press the End process button.
For even more details, press the 'Stats for nerds' URL in the lower left corner, which brings up an about:memory page.
Don't worry, we're not about to toss our morals off the Golden Gate Bridge and show you how to hack someone else's site, at least not in the way you might think. We are, however, going to show you how to edit any website in cyberspace, whether you're the rightful owner or not, except the changes will only be visible on your end.
What's cool about the Elements tab is that any changes you make appear on the webpage in real time. But developers and webmasters will also find loads of value in the Resources tab, which reveals the resource consumption of each element.
One of Chrome's unique features is the ability to create site-specific shortcuts to your favorite sites, web apps, or bookmarks. By using Chrome as a site-specific browser, you can open up Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, or any other site or service in its own window with a shortcut installed to your desktop, Start menu, or quick launch bar (or all three). Here's how.
Open up the site in a separate window. For this example, we'll use Facebook. To open a new Chrome window, press CTRL+N, or find the option in the Tools menu.
Once you've loaded up the site you want to make a shortcut for, open up the Page menu and select 'Create application shortcuts...' In some cases, you'll a short description of the site, along with three options for creating shortcuts. Choose as many as you want and press Create.
Whenever you use your newly created shortcut(s), the site will launch in its own window, but without the browser controls, bookmarks, and any other browser-related clutter.
Not that long ago, it was a pretty big hassle setting up Chrome to synchronize your bookmarks. It involved downloading the developer build, creating a shortcut, and adding a line of code. Once you did all that (and assuming you did it correctly), the option would then appear in Chrome.
What a difference a few months make. Chrome's developers got on the ball and made it super easy for anyone to sync up their bookmarks, not just those who like to play with experimental code. No matter which browser you're using (stable, beta, or developer), open up the Tools menu and select 'Synchronize my bookmarks...' You'll need a Google account for this, which you most likely already have (if not, click the link the create one).
Once you fill in your credentials, Google will sync up your bookmarks to Google Docs. To sync and access them on another PC, just repeat the above step. Easy, right?
If you ever want Google to stop syncing your bookmarks, just head back into Tools>Bookmarks synced... and bring up the Personal Stuff tab. At the very top you'll find an option to 'Stop syncing this account.'
This is one of our favorite tricks. Why? Well, you only have so much screen real estate to work with, and even less when working in your browser. If you're a heavy Web surfer, it's not uncommon to have several tabs open at once. We're not talking about 3 or 4, but a dozen or more.
It quickly adds up to a lot of clutter, but do all those tabs really need to take up so much space? Even worse, there are some sites you're likely to always keep open, like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and any other persistent destinations. It doesn't take long to fill up your browser, but with Chrome, you can shrink one or more tabs down to just their favicon, freeing up a ton of space in the process.
To organize your tabs into tiny thumbnails, just right-click on it and select Pin Tab. It will then be whisked over to the left side of the browser identifiable by its favicon.
Whenever you type in Chrome's Omnibar, the browser 'suggests' sites that are similar to what it thinks you're typing, which is based partially on your search history. It's not hard to see how this could turn into an awkward situation if someone else is sitting next to you while you surf the Web. To disable Chrome's Search Suggestion feature, click on Tools>Options. Bring up the Under the Hood tab and deselect the 'Use a suggestion service...' checkbox.
On the other end of the spectrum, you may feel that Chrome doesn't serve up enough suggestions. There's no integrated way to change this, but you can take matters into your own hands using a startup switch (see the section about startup switches earlier in this guide).
Find Chrome's startup icon on your desktop or taskbar, and then right-click and select Properties. Make sure the Shortcut tab is selected. In the target box, append -ominibox-popup-count=xx, replacing xx with the number of suggestions you want to appear. The final result should look something like this:
We don't know why it took so long for Google to add official extensions support for Chrome, but now that they have, we couldn't be happier. Mozilla? Probably not so much. The lack of extensions is a major reason why many users just couldn't bring themselves to make the switch, but now that the door has been opened, expect a flood of add-ons, just like what happened with Firefox. And the coolest part about all this is you don't even need to restart Chrome for extensions to take effect - groovy! Here are some we just can't live without.
Better known as 'mouse gestures,' Chrome gestures is Chrome's equivalent, and it's just as awesome here as it is on any other browser. This should be on everyone's install list.
As much we like Chrome, there are still some webpages that will only work correctly in Internet Explorer. But rather than resort to loading up IE, this extension allows you to load the page with IE, but in a separate tab within Chrome. In other words, you're getting the best of worlds!
Sometimes 5 o'clock rolls around way too early. Maybe you're waist deep in a super important project for work, or perhaps you were in the middle of an entertaining article, but it's time to go. One solution is to bookmark all of your open tabs, enable bookmark syncing, and then load them up one-by-one when you get home. Or you could install Tab Sync. Just as the name implies, this handy add-on syncs all of your open tabs. Just click the button and you're good to go.
Shop more intelligently with the Camelizer add-on. Camelizer tracks product price changes and works a variety of popular e-tailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Newegg, Overstock, and a few others. It will tell you what the lowest price for a product was, how recently it was marked that low, and other helpful stats to make sure you're not overpaying.
Extremely handy for anyone who often loads more than 10 tabs at a time, and the more tabs you have open, the more use you'll get out of this one. Easily perform functions like select, close, rearrange, find, and more, and do it with a convenient pull-down menu.
Move over Mozilla, your Firefox browser isn't the only one to support Greasemonkey anymore. As of February 1, 2010, so does Google Chrome. This is such a huge development, that we might someday look back and rank this as one of the most critical moments in Chrome's history.
There's no plug-in to install here, Greasemonkey works natively with the latest version of Chrome. Just click the above link and start experimenting. Here are a couple to get you started.
Hey, we love racking up trillions of dollars and wiping out our enemies in Mafia Wars just as much as the next virtual mafioso, but we could care less about your mafia. We also wouldn't be sad if an asteroid landied on your farm and decimated your crops, and while it might sound callous, we also have no interest in how you fared in whatever quiz you decided to participate in.
We're not haters in general, we just hate the crap that floods Facebook. Luckily for us, we're not the only ones, and someone had the good sense to make Facebook Purity. This script does what your so-called friends should be doing - it removes all the quiz and application messages, letting you enjoy Facebook the way it was designed to be enjoyed before the whole MySpace crowd migrated over.
Attention Ebay shoppers, you need to install this script. Ebay has made more than a few changes to its Feedback system over the years, but one thing the online auction hasn't done is make it easy to see a user's negative or neutral remarks. The only way to do that is to scroll through someone's entire feedback profile, and when dealing with a PowerSeller, that can be pretty time consuming. It's also necessary, because do you really want to take a chance on a seller who has a history of selling counterfeit goods?
Ebay Hacks adds a pair of tabs to Feedback profiles allowing you to quickly sort through all "Complaints Received" and "Complaints Left."
Want more? Be sure to check out our '11 Best Greasemonkey Scripts that Actually Work with Chrome' article.
It probably seems silly to talk about NoScript without mentioning AdBlock, so we we'll the give popular ad blocking service a shout out. And while we're at it, let us clear the air. In general, we don't condone running AdBlock, and with good reason. If all of our readers blocked the ads on our site, we wouldn't be able to exist, plain and simple. We also realize that there are some sites that make malicious use of ads, bombarding you with popups at every turn. That's also bunk. So our stance is this: If you must, go ahead and install AdBlock (it's now available for Chrome right here), but disable it for sites you trust and support, which we hope includes MaximumPC.com. You can do so by installing the Browser Button for AdBlock extension (available here), and then clicking on the icon and selecting 'Don't run on this domain.'
That's the bad news. The good news is you can still get NoScript-like behavior in Chrome, though you'll have to run the developer build (currently 5.0.xxx.x). It also isn't as slick, but it works. After you've installed the developer build (download it here) and restarted your browser, go to Tools>Options and load up the 'Under the Hood' tab. Right under Privacy, click the Content settings... button.
While you're in there, you can also control images, plug-ins, pop-ups, and cookies by diving into each one's tab and adjusting the settings.
Tabbed browsing is the greatest thing since, well, tabbed browsing, but if you want to view two websites at the same time, you need to open another window. Or you can rapid-fire switch between tabs. Neither of these is ideal.
We don't know why split-screen browsing hasn't yet been adopted by every major browser maker, especially with widescreen monitors now commonplace. But while browser makers drag their feet, you can take matters into your own hands by bookmarking http://www.podobne.pl/splitscreen/. This URL splits your browser in half with separate URL bars. It's not a perfect solution -- some sites, like Newegg, hijack the entire screen -- but until browser makers get on the ball, it's the best we've got.
There are three main ways to take Chrome with you:
1. Build a LAN box
2. Buy a notebook/netbook
Door number 3 is the only one that will fit in your pocket, at least without looking silly. It doesn't take much room on your USB key either, consuming about 35MB.
Just click the link above to download and 'install' the app. This really just unpacks the files, and you can choose to do this to your desktop and then move the folder over to your USB key, or unpack directly to your thumb drive. Once you're finished, just fire up Chrome Portable and start browsing!