50 essential Chrome tips

Polish up on your Chrome skills and get the most out of Google's web browser with our 50 top tips.

David Nield
7 min read

Behind its no-frills, stripped-down exterior, the Google Chrome browser hides a wealth of useful features and functions.

Read on to discover some tips and tricks you can make use of to unlock the power of Chrome. Oh, and chip in with your own in the comments at the bottom.

1. Pin tabs

Pinned tabs shuffle along to the left-hand side of the screen, take up less room and in some cases (e.g. Twitter), they glow if there's an update to the page. They also keep their places whenever you start up Chrome in the future. Right-click on a tab title to access the pin tab option.

50 essential Chrome tips: pinned tabs

Pinned tabs take up less room but can still display information.

2. Log out with incognito mode

Like most browsers, Chrome has an incognito mode that disables history logging. Open up an incognito window whenever you want to quickly check how a site -- such as your Facebook page or Google+ profile -- looks to someone who isn't signed in as you. If you're using Windows, Control+Shift+N opens a new incognito window.

3. Browse files

Chrome offers a rudimentary file explorer -- try typing 'C:' into the omnibox and hitting Enter to look around.

4. Search by site

All the usual Google operators apply in the Chrome omnibox. Type 'site:' followed by your keywords to restrict a search to a particular website, for example.

5. View background tasks

Chrome is powerful enough to have its own task manager. Hit Shift+Esc to see what's running in the background (typically extensions and offline caching tools), alongside your open tabs, and how much CPU time and memory space each one is taking up.

6. Hide extensions

If you want to clean up the toolbar but don't want to uninstall all your extensions, you can hide them instead (right-click, Hide button). This can come in very handy for extensions that work mainly in the background.

7. Change version

As well as the stable version, Chrome is available in three more versions, which get increasingly more cutting edge and less stable -- Beta, Dev and Canary. Visit the Chrome Release Channels page to switch between them.

8. Use the keyboard

There's a wealth of keyboard shortcuts that make Chrome easier and faster to use, but here we'll just mention two of the most useful -- Ctrl+click to open up a link in its own tab and Ctrl+W to close the current tab.

9. Add desktop shortcuts

Right-click on a web app on the New Tab page and choose 'Create shortcut' to add a link to it from the Start menu, desktop or taskbar.

10. Check memory usage

Enter 'chrome://memory' into the address bar to see where all of your RAM is going. Try 'chrome://chrome-urls' to see the other diagnostic shortcuts that are available.

11. Drag links

If you find clicking on links somewhat old hat, try dragging them to the omnibox or the tab bar.

12. Visualise bookmarks

Add bookmarks to the bookmarks bar, then remove their names in the Bookmarks Manager to be left with a row of compact favicon shortcuts.

50 essential Chrome tips: remove names from bookmarks

Remove the names from your bookmarks to leave a row of favicons.

13. Edit most visited sites

If there's a thumbnail on the 'Most visited sites' page you no longer want to see, click the cross in the top right-hand corner of the image to replace it with the next most visited site in Chrome's list.

14. Rearrange apps

Click and drag an app on the Apps page to change its position -- drag to the far right to create a new page of apps.

15. Go full screen

See more of the web in full-screen mode -- F11 toggles it on and off.

16. Change History

Head to chrome://chrome/history and you can remove specific pages from your browsing record via the check boxes and the 'Remove selected items' button.

17. Enlarge text

If your eyesight is poor or you're using a huge monitor, you can increase the default text size via Settings > Web content > Font size.

18. Forget everything

Clear everything in Chrome's memory by hitting Ctrl+Shift+Del, ticking all of the boxes (from history to cookies), selecting 'the beginning of time' as the timespan and clicking 'Clear browsing data'.

19. Change the theme

Like Gmail, Chrome comes with a range of official and unofficial themes -- click 'Get themes' on the Settings page to browse the selection.

20. Go further back

Click and hold on the back button to see a list of recently visited pages for the current tab.

21. Jump tabs

Hit Ctrl+ to jump to that tab in Chrome -- Ctrl+2, for example, will open the second tab from the left.

22. Go offline

Keep emailing even when your online connection is down with Offline Gmail from the Chrome Web Store. Google promises more offline apps are on the way.

50 essential Chrome tips: offline Gmail

It's possible to archive, search and compose messages in Offline Gmail.

23. Analyse pages

Right-click on a web page and choose 'Inspect element' to see the HTML, CSS, JavaScript and other resources it's made up from.

24. Import data

Chrome can import bookmarks, browsing history and more from Internet Explorer and Firefox via the Import bookmarks and settings option on the Bookmarks menu.

25. Remote desktop

There's a beta Chrome Remote Desktop app in the Chrome Web Store that lets you access your other machines that have Chrome running. Follow the on-screen instructions to set it up.

26. Pick up where you left off

Rather than opening a set URL or the New Tab screen when you start Chrome, you can opt to relaunch the same tabs that were open when you shut it down -- visit the Settings page under 'On start-up'.

27. Send to phone

The Chrome to Phone extension available in the Chrome Web Store is developed by Google and can send links and other information straight to your Android device. You'll need to install the mobile app too.

28. Stay in sync

Sync some, all or none of the following by signing into Chrome with your Google account: apps, bookmarks, extensions, auto-fill data, passwords, open tabs, omnibox history, themes and settings.

29. Do your sums

Type a calculation into the omnibox to see the result in the suggestions without even hitting Enter.

30. Search elsewhere

On the Settings page under Search, you can set the omnibox search to query sites such as Facebook, Last.fm or Wikipedia by default.

31. Make more room

Drag out the edges of any text input box to give yourself more room to express yourself.

32. Save to Google Drive

Chrome doesn't have this option yet -- in the meantime, set the default download location to a folder being synced by the Google Drive desktop client.

50 essential Chrome tips: Google Drive download location

Set Chrome's default download location to a folder synced to Google Drive.

33. Zoom

Use the Ctrl button in conjunction with your mouse's scroll wheel to zoom in and out.

34. See more suggestions

Increase the number of suggestions offered below the omnibox with a command line switch. Create a shortcut to chrome.exe with the '-omnibox-popup-count=' start-up switch afterwards.

35. Find in page

Hit Ctrl+F and type your text to find keywords in a page -- matches are highlighted in yellow on the right-hand scrollbar.

36. Highlight to search

Highlight a word or phrase and on the right-click menu you'll find an option to use the selection as a query for a Google search in a new tab.

37. Reopen a tab

If you've just closed a tab you didn't mean to, right-click on the tab bar and choose Reopen closed tab to bring it back.

38. Switch between Google accounts

Use the 'Add new user' button on the Settings page to sign in using another Google Account. You can then quickly switch between them by clicking on the user icon in the top-left corner.

39. Experiment

Enter 'about:flags' in the omnibox to see some experimental Chrome features you can try out, covering everything from geolocation APIs to gamepad support.

40. Paste and go

With a link on the clipboard, right-click on the omnibox and choose 'Paste and go' to visit it. If a link isn't detected, the option becomes Paste and search.

41. Find recent bookmarks

The Bookmark Manager creates an automatic list of recently bookmarked links if you can't remember which folder you saved your new favourite YouTube video to.

42. Get nostalgic

Click the globe icon (or padlock icon) on the far left of the omnibox to check when you first visited the current site. A cache clear-out or browser reinstall will reset this data.

50 essential Chrome tips: how long you've been frequenting a site

Find out just how long you've been frequenting a site for.

43. Disable spellcheck

If you don't like Chrome correcting you on your spelling, you can disable the feature under the Languages heading on the advanced settings screen.

44. Print from anywhere

Activate Google Cloud Print on your current PC with Chrome installed and you can access that computer's printers from every other Chrome browser you sign into.

45. Pan around

Click the mouse scroll wheel on a blank part of a web page to then pan around the site by moving the mouse.

46. Send feedback

You can let the Google Chrome team know about a bug via the 'Report an issue' link on the Tools menu. A screenshot can be included automatically.

47. Manage handlers

Visit Content settings (under Privacy on the Settings page), then click 'Manage handlers' to change the applications used to handle email and calendar links inside Chrome.

48. Speak to type

On any text box marked with a microphone icon, click the icon to speak to type, assuming you have a working microphone attached.

49. Use the jump list

If you're running Chrome on Windows 7, right-click on the taskbar icon to access its jump-list -- from here you can open recently closed tabs and most visited sites.

50. Enjoy your music

Right-click on an MP3 file in Windows and choose Open With > Google Chrome if you want to quickly hear a tune without the hassle of opening up iTunes or Windows Media Player.