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How to get the most out of Google’s Chrome browser

Google’s Chrome browser is a useful tool for searching and browsing online. It can be even more so if you know how to use some of its most helpful features. 

google chrome logo on purple background for google search
Image: KnowTechie

You already know that Google’s Chrome browser is handy for surfing the web given its many features and extensions But did you know you can manage it easily with keyboard commands? Did you know you can change the color or theme of Chrome? And did you know you can get around Google’s data collection?

These tricks don’t take advanced technical knowledge or special custom software development to make them work. Anyone can use them, it’s just a matter of learning how. 

Protect Your Privacy

Google is known for collecting a lot of information based on your browsing but there are things you can do to minimize the impact. First, you can delete your browsing history. To do so, in the upper-right corner of the browser, click the Customize and control (three stacked dots) icon. Select More tools > Clear browsing data. A dialog box appears. On the Basic and Advanced tabs, choose the items you want to clear, then click Clear data

Another way to maintain your privacy when using Chrome is to browse in incognito mode. Again, click the Customize and control icon. This time select New incognito window. When the window appears, perform your search as you normally would. When you use this window, Google doesn’t save your browsing history, cookies and site data, or information entered in forms. 

Use Google Tools

Google offers numerous productivity tools that you can access right from the search bar. For example, you can type in a math problem and Chrome sends you to Google Calculator for the answer. Try it yourself. In the search bar, type 34 + 72, then press Enter. On the results page, you’ll see a calculator with your answer in it. Here are some more search terms that take you to other Google tools:

  • How many yen to the dollar 
  • How to say “where is the grocery store” in Spanish
  • What does “pallid” mean
  • Where is Istanbul
  • Image of Leonardo DiCaprio

Some other search tricks are to put the @ symbol in front of a term to get social media results. For example, @beyonce. When you’re shopping, enter a $ in front of an item name and price, such as shoes $100. If you want to leave something out of a search, use the symbol after your search term. For example, animals -cats

Work With Tabs

Using tabs can make your Chrome experience more efficient. It’s like having two, five, ten, or more Chrome browsers open at one time. To open a new tab, click the + sign above the Omnibox (the box where you enter a URL or search term). A new tab opens where you can start a new search. You can also right-click any link to open the destination URL in a new tab.

You can move tabs around by clicking and dragging them to the left or right of other tabs. If you want a tab to appear on its own, click and drag it down until it forms its own window. To reopen a tab you’ve closed accidentally, type Ctrl-Shift-T on a Windows keyboard or Command-Shift-T on Macs. 

Add Extensions

webcheck ai chrome extension

Image: KnowTechie

Extensions are kind of like apps that integrate with Chrome. One of the most popular is Panic Button, which allows you to hide all your open tabs. It’s perfect for when you want a quick exit if you’re doing something not quite work-related in the office. Another is Grammarly, which helps you fix spelling and grammar errors as you type. Adblock Plus blocks most of the annoying ads you would normally see as you browse.

To choose and activate extensions, go to the Chrome web store extensions page. When you find an extension you like, click the icon. On the extension page, click Reviews and read a few comments from others to make sure you’re getting what you expect. When you’re ready to add it, click Add to Chrome and follow the instructions from there. 

Change the Appearance 

You can change the background, shortcuts, color, and theme in Chrome. To do it, open a new tab. At the bottom of the screen, click Customize. To change the background, in the Customize this page dialog box, select Background. Choose one of the standard backgrounds or upload your own. When finished, click Done

To change the way shortcuts appear in new tabs, click Shortcuts in the dialog box. If you want to curate your own shortcuts, select My shortcuts. If you want Chrome to suggest shortcuts based on the sites you visit most often, choose Most visited sites. If you don’t want shortcuts displayed on new tabs, select Hide shortcuts

If you want to customize the color or theme, click Color and theme in the dialog box. Choose the colors you want Chrome to display, then click Done

In Summary

Google’s Chrome browser is a useful tool for searching and browsing online. It can be even more so if you know how to use some of its most helpful features. 

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