7 easy Google Chrome tricks you haven’t tried yet
Manage multiple logins and keep tabs on your tabs with these simple shortcuts that minimize confusion and regret.
If you’re like about 1 billion other netizens, you use Google’s Chrome browser pretty much every day to get on the web, but you’re probably not taking advantage of its full potential. Sure, you know how to open a private window when sneaking a peak at something, but have you ever wondered what else incognito mode is good for? Or maybe you’re one of those people like my office neighbor who’s always got a million tabs open. Ever wish there was a better way to manage all that clutter?
Google is constantly adding new bells and whistles to Chrome, like dark mode, toolbar playback controls and a “privacy sandbox” coming later this year. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with all the browser changes, but you definitely don’t want to miss any. After all, you can’t very well store your login credentials in Chrome’s password manager if you don’t even know it exists. And if you haven’t heard about Chrome’s new real-time phishing scam protections, you might wonder why your browser is suddenly warning you not to trust a site that, to you, looks perfectly legit.
Whether these shortcuts, productivity hacks and other nifty features are new or just new to you, here are seven outside-the-box ways to use (and misuse) Google Chrome that you probably don’t know about yet.
Incognito mode: Not just for NSFW content
Although incognito mode is practically synonymous with lewd photos and raunchy videos, hiding the evidence is just one of the many judicious reasons to consider opening a private browser window. Remember, incognito mode not only covers your online tracks but also disables cookies — those useful (and all too abusable) little data files that tell websites stuff like who you are, where you are and when you last visited.
Use Google Chrome’s incognito mode to check your email or social media accounts on public computers without leaving your credentials behind when you close the browser.
That means if you open an incognito window to check your Gmail (or use any web service that requires a username and password), anyone logged in before you will be, in effect, logged out. You can then log in with your own username and password. After you’re finished with Gmail, Facebook, Amazon or whatever, rather than manually logging out just close the window you’re working in and the entire session will be scrubbed from browser history like it never happened.
To open a Chrome window in Incognito Mode, either select File from the Menu Bar, then New Incognito Window or press Command-shift-N on a Mac or Control-Shift-N on a Windows computer.
Friends can be your guest
One of the downsides to letting your friends check their Gmail or Facebook account using Chrome’s incognito mode on your computer is that they may also be able access your browser history, your email, your Facebook account and so on. If privacy and security are of supreme importance to you (or you just don’t trust your friends), Chrome’s Guest Mode adds another layer of protection.
Basically, Guest Mode is Incognito Mode on steroids. Chrome load up like it’s never been on the internet before, without browsing history and cookies, and will block access to other Chrome profiles,like the one where you keep all your usernames and passwords. And the only browser setting guest mode users can change is the default search engine, so you’ll get your browser back more or less the way you had it.
To open a Chrome window in Guest Mode, tap the profile icon in the upper right corner of the Chrome browser and then select Guest.
Keep tabs on your tabs
Tabbed browsing was meant to help organize the clutter of multiple open browser windows, but it doesn’t take long to make a mess of tabs, either. Thankfully, Chrome has a few built-in features that’ll help you keep your tabs organized, find the tab you’re looking for and save the day when you accidentally close a tab you needed to stay open. Here’s how:
How many tabs do you keep open at at time? Whether it’s one or one hundred, Google Chrome can help keep them organized.
Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET
Reorganize tabs: Think of tabs like sticky windows — when they get close to one another they attach, but when you pull them apart, they stay that way. You can rearrange the tabs in your active browser window by clicking and dragging them around. You can pull a tab out from your active window to create its own window. You can also drag tabs from one window to another. Thanks to an update from Microsoft, you can also move multiple tabs around at once — just hold the Shift key down while selecting multiple tabs and then drag to a new location.
Search the omnibox for open tabs: What used to be called simply the address bar Chrome now refers to as the “omnibox.” That’s because you can type the URL for a website you want to visit and also start a Google search from the same multipurpose ibox. However, another lesser-known trick is to use the omnibox to search your open tabs. Just type whatever keywords you remember from the tab you want and look for results labelled Switch to this tab among the results.
Right click to the right of the last open tab to reopen the last tab you closed.
Use shortcut keys to change tabs: Command-tab will switch between open windows on a Mac, and Control-tab does the same on a Windows PC, but replace the tab button with a number, say, Command-3 (or Control-3 on Windows) and Chrome will switch to the third tab from the left.
Reopen a closed tab: This one can be a lifesaver. If you ever accidentally close a tab you needed to stay open, go to the History menu and under Recently Closed, reopen the tap or right-click to the right of the last tab at the top of your browser window and tap Reopen Closed Tab.
Use Chrome’s password manager
Finally, if you’re not using a password manager, you should be. Chrome makes it easy to use the one that comes baked into the browser to store your login credentials. Not only does it fill in your username and password for you online, you can manage your passwords and see if any of your login credentials have been compromised at Chrome’s companion Password Manager website.
For more tips like these, check out our clever Gmail tricks to minimize regret, frustration and spam, as well as our five Google Maps tips to see more than just what’s on the map.