15 Chrome Flags To Enable For Better Browsing Experience

Google Chrome has a 64% worldwide browser market share across all platforms. It is known for its speed, stability, and UI, but what most people don’t know is it has a list of experimental features that allows users to make various kinds of tweaks.

These experimental features are called “Chrome Flags”, and they are not part of the default Chrome experience. The feature list on Chrome flags is quite extensive. It is packed with advanced options, ranging from UI layout and debugging to GPU acceleration and developer tool experiments.

You can access these hidden features by typing “chrome://flags” in the address bar. Since the list is long, you can find a specific flag or a flag related to a feature using Command+F or Control+F. Once you have enabled a flag, you will need to re-launch the browser to activate it.

What we’ve mentioned above is just the tip of the iceberg. Below you will find some of the best Google Chrome flags that can completely change your browsing experience.  If you’re a developer or a regular user who likes to experiment with new things, this is going to be an exciting list for you.

Caution: These features are still under development. By enabling them, you could compromise your security or lose browser data. If you encounter any problem, just restore settings to their original defaults.

15. Parallel downloading

parallel downloader

#enable-parallel-downloading

If you have ever used Internet Download Manager on Windows, there is a great chance that you already know what parallel downloading is. It establishes multiple connections to download a single file in multiple parts.

Enabling this flag will increase your overall download speed. Although it works for all downloads that exceed two seconds, you will notice a huge difference when downloading large files.

14. Quieter Notification

Quieter NotificationQuieter UI (Desktop and Mobile)

#quiet-notification-prompts

You may have noticed many websites have started requesting the notification permission on the very first visit. These unwanted requests interrupt the user’s workflow and result in bad user experience.

To makes such requests less annoying, you can enable quieter permission prompts. It replaces the usual modal dialog with a quieter version.

Read: 19 Best Smart Notification Apps for Android Users

13. Share Page Via QR Code

#sharing-qr-code-generator

Suppose you’ve stumbled upon an interesting page while surfing the web on your desktop. And now you want to open this page on your smartphone. There is no easy way to do this unless you are logged into both devices with the same Google ID.

This feature generates a QR code for the page you are currently browsing. You can scan this code with your smartphone’s camera and share the URL between devices quickly.

12. Native File System API

Native File System API

The native file system API allows developers to create powerful web applications that interact with files on the user’s local devices, such as text editors, image and video editors, IDEs, and more.

Once the user grants access to an application, the API allows this application to read or save changes directly to files/folders on the user’s device. It also provides the ability to open directories and enumerate their content.

11. Force Dark Mode

#enable-force-dark

Google Chrome can forcibly enable dark mode on every webpage you visit, putting an end to those shiny bright backgrounds on your nice dark desktop.

Chrome already comes with an inbuilt dark mode. But there are still millions of websites that do not support dark mode. Rather than waiting for them to jump on the dark mode bandwagon, Google found a simple solution – use ‘color inversion’ on web content. This involves turning bright colors into dark and vice versa (without manipulating images).

10. QUIC protocol

#enable-quic

Quick UDP Internet Connection (QUIC) is an experimental protocol that supports multiplexed connection over UDP. It was designed by Google to provide security protection equivalent to TLS/SSL, in addition to reduced connection and transport latency.

In other words, QUIC combines the faster and more secure elements of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the User Datagram Protocol (UDP). It works by minimizing the connection requests to establish a secure connection with the server.

9. Heavy Ad Intervention

#enable-heavy-ad-intervention

There are some ads on the web that use an excessive amount of system resources. These poorly performant ads degrade browsing experience by making pages slow (or unresponsive), consuming high bandwidth, and draining device battery.

Chrome’s new feature called Heavy Ad Intervention, when enabled, blocks ads that heavily abuse CPU/GPU resources. Since it is hard to say which or how many ads will actually be blocked, this feature is quite tricky to test.

8. Share Clipboard

Clipboard share

#shared-clipboard-ui
#shared-clipboard-receiver

Google is working on a shared clipboard feature that will allow users to copy text from one device and paste it on another. To do this, they will need to enable flags (written above in bold) on both receiver and sender device.

After enabling the flag, you will see a new “copy to your device” option when you right-click highlighted text on a webpage. It will list all devices on which you have signed into with your Google account and enabled the flag — Chrome OS, macOS, Windows, Linux, and Android. Select a device to send the text to its clipboard.

Since the feature is still a work-in-progress (like all other flags in Chrome), it may not function all the time correctly.

7. Override Software Rendering List

#ignore-gpu-blacklist

Even after turning on ‘hardware acceleration’ in settings, the Chrome browser disables some version of GPU-acceleration device drivers. In some cases, this might cause slowness in your browser.

You can notice it when launching Google Earth and or when watching 4k YouTube videos. Enabling this flag will fix such problems to some extent.

6. Reader Mode

#enable-reader-mode

The reader mode makes an article easier to read by stripping out unnecessary background clutter on the webpage. Once you enable this flag, you will be able to change the background color and adjust the font type/size to whatever is most comfortable to read.

Although it is not as good as Safari’s reader mode, it does simplify the webpage and remove obstructive ads.

5. Tab Grid Layout

#enable-tab-grid-layout

Google has added a new tab switcher that is packed with extra options and icons, eschewing the old minimalist design.

Instead of simply showing a group of large cards, which users can swipe through to select the tab, the new design presents you with a set of links to recently visited websites, a button for creating new tabs, an incognito mode toggle, and an options menu.

4. Chrome Duet

#enable-chrome-duet

Chrome Duet is designed to provide a more convenient browsing experience on smartphones. When enabled, it moves the most of the browser’s button to the bottom of the screen, where they can more easily be reached via one-handed use.

You can choose different combinations of buttons as per your convenience.

  • Home, Search, Share
  • Home, Search, Tab Switcher
  • New Tab, Search, Share

3. Tab Group

#tab-groups

Tab group is designed for tab hoarders. It allows you to organize tabs into visually distinct groups. You can assign unique names and colors to individual groups. Every tab inside the group can be moved or closed at once.

Although this feature is missing a few minor things (such as the ability to merge groups), it’s a great way to organize and label all open tabs.

Read: 30 Cool Alternative Web Browsers You Didn’t Know of

2. Tab Hover Cards

#tab-hover-cards

Tab hover cards allow you to easily discern tabs from one another. This is helpful when you have dozens of tabs open in a single window. The hovercard appears when you rest the mouse cursor over a tab. It’s a larger preview box that displays the title and URL of the website.

If you also want an image preview in tab hover cards, you need to enable an additional flag named #tab-hover-card-images.

1. Google Lens

Google Lens

Google lens is an incredibly useful app that helps you identify items found in an image. This feature is now available on the Chrome browser (on mobile devices).

This is a major improvement over the existing ‘search by image’ option because now you can identify what’s in the picture, in addition to getting results for similar photos.

Read: 8 Free Proxy Servers To Surf Web Anonymously

For example, you can reverse search an image of a car with Google Lens while browsing, and it will tell you about the car model, specification, and related news. It can also translate text and identify the surroundings in the image.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional science and technology journalist and a big fan of AI, machines, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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