I’m a big fan of Google Chrome, and have been since independent developers started making plugins for the browser. In the past, I relied heavily on Mozilla Firefox for business and personal use as it was the only browser that allowed me to do things like back up photos and videos on the fly. Google Chrome has remained a fast, efficient, and remarkably robust solution.
That disclosure aside, there are some things you can do to make your Google Chrome experience even better. Some of these tips require very little technical know-how and can be implemented in a matter of seconds.
Above all, you should never feel as though your software or hardware is a limitation to your productivity. The best software out there gives you the ability to customize the experience to meet your needs rather than the confined vision of its creator. Google is great at this, but it isn’t the only name in the browser game. While Firefox may not have been the solution of choice for me, it could be the perfect fit for you.
Remember, technology is there to work for you, not against you.
Create a Favicon-Only Bookmarks Bar
I really hate it when my bookmarks bar becomes cluttered with links and/or folders. In some cases, this creates an overflow that throws some of the content into a drop-down menu on the right side of the bar. Where proper folder organization can certainly cut a lot of this out, getting rid of written bookmark titles entirely greatly reduces the amount of space each site takes up in that space. It also makes the bar look a lot neater and more uniform with every icon taking up an even amount of space.
To remove the written title on a bookmark in Google Chrome, you need to:
- Right-click the bookmark on your Bookmarks bar.
- Select Edit…
- Remove all text in the Name field.
- Select Save.
- Repeat until all of your bookmarks are reduced to just favicons.
One cool feature of doing this is that you can still see what it is you’re clicking on by moving your mouse over the favicon and seeing the URL it leads to. This might not be an aesthetic solution if you bookmark a lot of pages that don’t have favicons set, but it does a great job of maximizing the amount of space you have on the screen.
You can also show and hide the bookmarks bar quickly by hitting Ctrl+Shift+B on Windows and Command+Shift+B in OS X.
Permanently Pin Tabs
Pinning tabs is another great space saver. It allows you to reduce the size of a tab down to just the favicon, making it easier to manage important or frequently used tabs on the regular. Here’s the funny thing about these tabs though; they go away when you close the browser. While right-clicking and selecting Pin Tab will get the tab pinned, the process for making that change more permanent is a little trickier.
Don’t worry; you can, indeed, make these tabs last forever by altering the executable command line in the shortcut’s properties. Here’s what you need to do.
- Determine what URLs you want to open in pinned tabs when you start your browser.
- Open shortcut properties by right-clicking on the Google Chrome icon in your desktop or Start Menu.
- Select Properties.
- In the target field, add the following after .exe.
- - -pinned-tab-count=x where X = the number of tabs you want saved.
- Add the URLs (separated by spaces) you wish to have opened in pinned tabs.
- Hit OK.
Here is an example of what my target field would look like with five saved tabs.
C:\Users\Matt\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe – -pinned-tab-count=5 http://google.com http://lockergnome.com http://gnomies.com http://hackerne.ws http://news.google.com
Set Multiple Startup Pages
Setting multiple startup pages is a great way to make Google Chrome open your most commonly-browsed pages as soon as you start the browser. For me, I have five or six sites that I browse on the constant. Having the ability to bring them up without having to manually open bookmarks either individually or by folder is a big plus.
To do this, you need but to head over to your preferences menu by clicking on the wrench in the upper-right area of the Google Chrome window and selecting Settings.
Once you’re in the settings menu, you’ll need to look for a section in the main area called On Startup which gives you the option to Open a specific page or set of pages as well as a link to the side that allows you to set pages. Click that blue link and you’ll find a menu (pictured) that gives you the ability to set as many startup pages as you want. These pages will appear as soon as you open your browser, saving you time and hassle.
Add Multiple Users to the Same Browser
Adding multiple users to Google Chrome makes it easier to have a household computer without everyone’s personal data being intermixed and confused. In an age where our social networks see and report just about anything we do online, it can be easy to hit the like button, not remembering that the computer itself isn’t yours. In addition, you can borrow your friend’s system and sync your settings over from your primary account without disturbing their browsing experience.
- Click the wrench in the upper-right area of the Chrome window.
- Select Settings.
- Choose Add a User in the Users area of the main Settings menu.
- Sign in to your Google account.
When you’re done with the computer and don’t plan on coming back to use it, take a moment to delete your account using the same area of the Settings menu. This will make sure your data is safe and sound and your buddy’s system has a little extra breathing room. Be a good neighbor.
Sync Your Browser on Multiple Computers
Firefox and Google Chrome both do this, but I’ve found the process to be exceptionally easy on Google Chrome. Syncing your browser gives you the benefit of having your bookmark and settings changes appear on all computers without the need to reset each time while also allowing you to check out sites you’re browsing on them in almost real-time.
For example, I have browsers open on both my MacBook Pro and my PC. While on my PC, I want to read or reference something I found on the MacBook Pro. From the new tab page, I can see and select the pages being accessed by my MacBook from my PC without having to enter a URL or search for the link separately. It’s magic, and one of my favorite features of the browser.
Be careful, though. With great power comes great responsibility, and you may want to put Incognito mode to good use when you don’t want your spouse knowing that you’re shopping for her birthday present on Amazon in the next room.