Google's Chrome browser is full of shortcuts, hidden functions, and tweaks that can save you time and improve your workflow. All you have to do is carve out a few minutes and learn how to take advantage of 'em.
So read on -- and get ready to transform the way you use your browser.
[ Get more from Google Drive with our Quick guide: 25 tips and tricks for Google Drive power users. | Safeguard your browsers; InfoWorld's experts tell you how in the "Web Browser Security Deep Dive" PDF guide. | For a quick, smart take on the news you'll be talking about, check out InfoWorld TechBrief -- subscribe today. ]
Chrome tip No. 1
Wish there were a way to keep videos and other Flash content from automatically playing when you open a page? There is: Type
chrome://settings/content into Chrome's Omnibox (aka its address bar), scroll down to the section labeled "Plug-ins," and select "Click to play." Now, any piece of multimedia content will appear as a grayed-out box until you click to activate it.
Be aware that this may cause issues with certain websites; you'll probably want to click the "Manage exceptions" button and whitelist sites that rely heavily on plug-ins to operate -- YouTube, Vimeo, and Pandora, for instance -- in order to avoid any funky behavior.
Chrome tip No. 2
You probably know you can drag tabs in and out of windows, but there's also a lesser-known shortcut in the tab management family: Middle-clicking a tab's title box (at the top of the browser window) will cause the tab to close.
Chrome tip No. 3
Middle-clicking has another hidden use throughout Chrome: It will cause a link to open in a new tab in the background, so you can continue working in your current tab without interruption. It'll work with a link on a Web page as well as with an item in the drop-down list that appears when you type into the Omnibox.
Chrome tip No. 4
If you don't like to middle-click, don't worry: Holding down the Ctrl (or Cmd) key while left-clicking will accomplish the same feat described in tip No. 3. Holding down Shift while left-clicking, meanwhile, will open the link in a new background window instead of a tab.
Chrome tip No. 5
Another useful Omnibox key combo: Try pressing Alt-Enter after you type a search term or URL into the box. That'll cause your results to open in a new tab instead of in your current tab.
Chrome tip No. 6
Not a fan of Chrome's revamped New Tab page? You're not alone. Google recently phased out a workaround that let you switch back to the old New Tab style, but a third-party extension called New Tab Redirect can help fill the void. Once you've installed the extension, head into its settings and click the option to use the Apps page as your New Tab page. It's not identical to the original New Tab setup, but it's darn close.
Chrome tip No. 7
When you want to move or close multiple tabs at once, hold down the Shift key and click each of their titles at the top of the browser. Thus, they'll all be selected; you can then drag them out to a new window together, or close them all simultaneously by pressing Ctrl-W (Cmd-W on a Mac).
Chrome tip No. 8
Close a tab by mistake? Press Ctrl-Shift-T (Cmd-Shift-T on a Mac) to reopen it. You can press it again and again to keep reopening old tabs in the order they were closed.
Chrome tip No. 9
You can always access your browsing history by pressing Ctrl-H, but you can also see the most recently viewed pages within any individual tab by clicking and holding the Back button at the top-left of the browser. The middle-click and Ctrl- or Shift-click commands described in tips 3 and 4 will work there, too, if you want to open an old link in a new background tab or window.
Chrome tip No. 10
If you ever highlight text on a Web page, try right-clicking afterward. You'll find a single-step option to search for the text -- or, if the text involves a valid (but not hyperlinked) URL, to navigate to it without having to copy and paste.
Chrome tip No. 11
You can also highlight text, then drag it to the Omnibox to initiate a search or navigation in the same manner described in tip No. 10.
Chrome tip No. 12
Highlighting text and dragging it to the top-most area of the browser -- next to your right-most tab -- will launch a search or navigation in a new tab rather than the current one.
Chrome tip No. 13
Typing into Chrome's Omnibox searches Google by default, but you can also use it to search most any site on the Web: All you have to do is start typing a site's name into the box -- Amazon or YouTube, for instance -- then press Tab and begin typing your search term.
If a site doesn't automatically support native Omnibox searching, you can manually add it into Chrome's search engine list by right-clicking the Omnibox and selecting "Edit search engines." You can also set up a custom keyword to use in place of the site's URL, if you want.
Chrome tip No. 14
You can search your Google Drive files directly from Chrome's Omnibox: Go into the aforementioned "Edit search engines" menu and add a new search engine with the name "Google Drive" and the keyword
gd (or whatever keyword you prefer). For the URL, enter
http://drive.google.com/?hl=en&tab=bo#search/%s, then click the Done button.
gd into the Omnibox, hit Tab, and search away within your own Drive files.
Chrome tip No. 15
The same setup described in tip No. 14 can also be configured with Gmail: Simply perform the same process but make the name "Gmail," the keyword
gm, and the URL
Chrome tip No. 16
Want a shortcut for adding new Google Calendar events from Chrome's Omnibox? Add a new search engine called "Calendar" with keyword
cal and URL
Next time you want to add a new event, type
cal into the Omnibox, hit Tab, then type in your event details in plain English -- like "Meeting with Jim in Conference Room 2 Tuesday at 1 p.m." Chrome will take you directly into Google Calendar with all the appropriate fields prepopulated; all you'll have to do is hit Save to confirm.
Chrome tip No. 17
Search your bookmarks from the Omnibox with the help of a free Chrome extension called Holmes. Once it's installed, you can type an asterisk into the Omnibox, hit Tab, then type in any keywords to get instant results from your saved sites.
Chrome tip No. 18
If you want access to your full set of Chrome bookmarks, Ctrl-Shift-B (Cmd-Shift-B on a Mac) will toggle the browser's Bookmarks Bar in and out of view. Any site you've saved into the Bookmarks Bar folder will appear along the top of the screen; a drop-down menu with all of your other bookmarks will be available at the far right.
For a more streamlined look, right-click each site in the Bookmarks Bar, select Edit, and remove its name. That'll leave you with a text-free list of icons pointing to your favorite pages.
Chrome tip No. 19
A handy command to remember: Ctrl-Shift-D (Cmd-Shift-D on a Mac). That'll save all your open tabs as bookmarks within a single folder. When you're ready to reopen them, simply right-click on the folder and select "Open all bookmarks in new window."
Chrome tip No. 20
Chrome supports hands-free searching via the Android-esque "OK, Google" hotword -- at least, when you're on the Google home page. All you have to do is download Google's official Voice Search Hotword extension to enable the functionality.
Chrome tip No. 21
You can navigate through your open tabs right from your keyboard: Press Ctrl (Cmd) and the numbers 1 through 9 to jump around on demand.
Chrome tip No. 22
You may know that pressing the space bar will scroll down one page's length on any Web page -- but did you know that pressing Shift and the space bar will scroll up in the same manner?
Chrome tip No. 23
Chrome allows you to create custom keyboard shortcuts for extensions. Go to
chrome://extensions, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the link labeled "Keyboard shortcuts" to set up some of your own.
Chrome tip No. 24
Some extensions are useful to have running only in the background -- so why have them taking up space on your browser's toolbar? You can hide any Chrome extension from view by right-clicking on its icon and selecting "Hide button" from the drop-down menu that appears.
Chrome tip No. 25
For a distraction-free browsing experience, hit F11. It'll shift Chrome into full-screen mode, hiding all the regular browser elements and everything else on your screen.
Chrome tip No. 26
If you tend to keep a lot of tabs open, Chrome's hidden Stacked Tabs feature might be the thing for you. Type
chrome://flags into your browser's Omnibox, search for Stacked Tabs, and enable it. That'll cause your tabs to stack up against each other instead of shrinking down when you've exceeded the amount of horizontal space available.
Chrome tip No. 27
Zoom, zoom: Press Ctrl (Cmd) and the "+" or "-" key to quickly zoom in or out of any Web page and change the size of text or other on-screen elements.
Chrome tip No. 28
Ctrl-0 (that's zero) will snap you back to the default 100 percent zoom view (Cmd-0 on the Mac).
Chrome tip No. 29
You can always get back to Chrome's home page -- the New Tab page, by default -- by pressing Alt-Home, but if you'd rather have a physical button you can click, go to
chrome://settings and check the box labeled "Show Home button."
Chrome tip No. 30
Turn any Web page into a standard shortcut on your Windows desktop by clicking in the Omnibox and dragging the URL onto your desktop. You can also create a more app-like shortcut by going into the main Chrome menu, selecting Tools, then "Create application shortcuts"; the page will open in a full-screen window without all the typical browser elements.
Chrome tip No. 31
Chrome can automatically pick up where you last left off. Go to
chrome://settings and change the option under "On startup" to "Continue where I left off." The next time you open your browser, it'll launch with whatever tabs and windows you had open when you last used it.
Chrome tip No. 32
Put that Casio down: You can perform calculations right in Chrome's Omnibox. Type any mathematical command into the box --
50/7, or whatever your heart desires -- and your answer will appear before you even hit Enter.
Chrome tip No. 33
You can quickly check out the cache of any Web page by typing
cache:website.com into Chrome's Omnibox.
Chrome tip No. 34
Need to restart Chrome in a jiff? Type
chrome://restart into the browser's Omnibox. But use caution with that command; if you've set your browser to automatically restore open tabs when it restarts, you could find yourself in an endless loop of relaunching.
Chrome tip No. 35
Save yourself some time and stop typing
.com into Web addresses. Just type the main part of the site's name --
infoworld, for instance -- then hit Ctrl and Enter. Chrome will fill in the rest for you.
Chrome tip No. 36
Put some extra language knowledge into your browser by adding in the official Google Dictionary extension. With it in place, you can double-click any word on the Web to see a pop-up bubble with its definition.
Chrome tip No. 37
Chrome lets you paste text into the browser without any formatting, which can be useful when you want words without any links, colors, or fonts attached for an email, online document, or other Web-based text field. Ctrl-Shift-V is the command to remember.
Chrome tip No. 38
Ever want to copy a file to your desktop after you've downloaded it? Easy: Click the file's tile in the download bar at the bottom of your browser and drag it directly onto your desktop.
Chrome tip No. 39
You can drag a file from the download bar directly into an online service, too -- like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Gmail. The file will be uploaded without any extra effort on your behalf.
Chrome tip No. 40
Try right-clicking on a tab's title at the top of your browser. You'll find a pop-up list of advanced options -- everything from duplicating the tab to closing all other tabs to its right.
Chrome tip No. 41
When there's a tab you want to keep open, use Chrome's Pin command -- located in the right-click menu mentioned in the previous tip. Pinning a tab will cause it to stay in place in a sized-down notch at the left side of the window.
Chrome tip No. 42
Chrome can act as a basic file explorer for your computer. On a Windows machine, try typing
C:\ into the Omnibox to start navigating around.
Chrome tip No. 43
You can save files directly from the Web to Google Drive. Grab Google's official Save to Google Drive extension and you'll gain an option to save both full pages and individual files by right-clicking as you surf.
Chrome tip No. 44
Chrome can print wirelessly to compatible printers using Google's Cloud Print service. Open up
chrome://settings, click "Show advanced settings," and look for the section labeled "Google Cloud Print" to get started.