Google Chrome tips & tricks for better browsing on Android7 min read

Hi everyone and welcome to our new weekly series! In Apps Optimized, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular apps on mobile and share our knowledge with you. Whether you’re a casual user or a smartphone adept, we’re confident that the information provided here will help you use your device in a more efficient manner. 

We’re kicking things off with the most universally used internet browser of today – Google Chrome. According to data from February of 2018, a whopping 62% of users across both Android and iOS are relying on Google Chrome. The browser has a bevy of features that aim to make your experience better, but some of them are hidden behind a secret menu or are simply not that well-known. Let’s see what we can do to help you browse better!

Please note! Some of the tips and tricks shown here are features that are a part of Chrome’s experimental chrome://flags menu. They are functional at the time of writing, but might glitch and could be removed or altered by Google in the future. If you’re experiencing a malfunction, just go back to this article, disable the features mentioned here, and restart your browser. If a feature doesn’t show up after a restart, go to Settings > Apps > Chrome and force stop the app, then try again.

Enable the nifty Chrome Duet menu

It’s no news that phones have been growing in size for a few years now, making one-hand usage quite difficult. If you’d like to have the most vital Chrome actions within the reach of your thumb, you should definitely give the Chrome Duet menu a try. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Google Chrome, tap your address bar and type in “chrome://flags” without the inverted commas. This will open up Chrome’s super-secret hidden menu that can potentially break a lot of things. Just don’t change any setting you’re not familiar with.
  2. Now, you should see a “search flags” tool at the top of your screen. Search for the term “Chrome Duet” and enable it. 
  3. Restart your browser. You should now have a new bar at the bottom with a Home button, search function, and a button that allows you to scroll through your tabs. The three-dot menu at the right end of Chrome Duet can help you open a new tab, your bookmarks, browsing history, and so on. Neat!

Swipe on the address bar to change tabs

Did you know that pressing the tabs button isn’t the only way to browse the different web pages you’ve opened? 

If you have multiple tabs open, you can swipe left or right on your address bar to scroll through them. Alternatively, you can also swipe down on the bar to access the full list of opened tabs.

A better way to select photos

If you’re frequently posting photos to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter through Google Chrome, you should be familiar with the popup that appears when you’re browsing for pics to upload on your phone. The default layout isn’t anything special, but thankfully, there’s a better photo selector available. Again, we’re going to enable it through the flags menu:
  1. Open Google Chrome, tap your address bar and type in “chrome://flags” without the inverted commas.
  2. Tap the “search flags” tool at the top of your screen. Search for the term “Photopicker” and enable it.
  3. Voilà! In our opinion, the new square thumbnail layout is much more convenient than the standard list interpretation.

Tap on words for more info

This is a simple, yet lesser-known feature on Chrome. A simple tap on a piece of text in the browser will prompt an information panel to appear at the bottom of your screen. If you swipe up on the panel, you will see search results appear for the word or term you’ve selected.

Copy URLs like a pro

This should be a no-brainer for a lot of you, but you’d be surprised by the number of people we’ve seen who take a lot of time to do a simple task like copying the current URL in their browser. Nobody is born with a Ph.D. in Chrome navigation, so we feel obliged to share this tip with anyone that needs it. 

Instead of tapping on the address bar, pressing ‘Select All’ in the text menu (or selecting the entire thing by moving the little blue arrows left and right), just hold down on the address bar. This will select the entire link automatically, and all you have to do from there on is press Copy. Alternatively, if you see a lock icon to the left of the address, you can also tap on it and hold on the address. This will automatically copy the URL to your clipboard.

Increase your download speeds

At number 6, we have a feature that will enable you to download files through Chrome faster. This is done through parallel downloading, a functionality that allows the creation of multiple connections for downloading the same file. Here’s how to enable it:

  1. Open Google Chrome, tap your address bar and type in “chrome://flags” without the inverted commas.
  2. Tap the “search flags” tool at the top of your screen. Search for the term “parallel downloading” and enable it.
  3. You’re all set. The effects of this boost will be noticeable when you’re downloading a larger file. It won’t make much of a difference for a 2MB photo, for example.

Changing your download location

While we’re still on the downloading topic, let’s take some time and mention how to route your downloads to a folder of your choosing. This is useful if you are frequently downloading different types of files like pictures, documents, etc. and want to bring some order to the process. Again, we’re using the flags menu here:

  1. Open Google Chrome, tap your address bar and type in “chrome://flags” without the inverted commas.
  2. Tap the “search flags” tool at the top of your screen. Search for the term “enable downloads location change” and enable it.
  3. After enabling this flag, you will also see a new option in your Chrome settings. You can force Chrome to ask you where to save the file every time by toggling the switch on.

Make use of reader mode

Night mode is a feature that’s present on a lot of other browsers, but Chrome is still lacking. However, we can do something about it, thanks to the ever-useful flags menu:

  1. Open Google Chrome, tap your address bar and type in “chrome://flags” without the inverted commas.
  2. Tap the “search flags” tool at the top of your screen. Search for the term “reader-mode-heuristics” and enable it.

This will cause a small notification window to appear at the bottom of your screen when browsing through different websites. If you click on the simplified view, you should see a minimalistic version of the webpage that should load faster with formatting and other things removed. You can select a font of your desire, and switching to dark mode will actually save you some battery if you’re browsing for a prolonged period of time on a phone with an OLED screen. Not to mention that dark mode won’t burn your retinas if you’re looking at your screen in low-light conditions. 

Manage sound your options

If you’re not explicitly tapping on a video or auido file, your phone shouldn’t be emitting any sounds while you’re browsing. Sadly, this lovely notion is often violated by websites that find a way to circumvent this and auto-play ads in a very annoying fashion (looking at you, CNN). 

If you’d like to block certain sites from doing so, simply tap the three-dot menu, head over to Settings > Site settings > Sound. Here you can mute specific sites by pressing “add site exception”, or mute sounds on Chrome altogether. 

There you go, everyone, nine essential tips and tricks for Google Chrome on Android! Do you like the new series? Do you have a super useful tip that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments below!