Are you the type of person that needs unfettered mobility of their browsing data? If you are such an individual, a typical day may involve moving from a desktop in the office, to a laptop at a client’s office and back to a desktop at home. In between, you likely also use your mobile device to continue browsing. Switching between devices interrupts the browsing experience.
With these Chrome hacks, you never have to worry about leaving your webpages, tabs and even clipboard data behind.
Chrome’s Built-in Sync
If you aren’t already using Chrome’s built-in sync, then you are missing out on one of Chrome’s most useful features. It allows you to sync your bookmarks, open tabs, browsing history, apps, autofill data, saved passwords, settings and themes on any computer running Chrome.
It’s really easy to set it up. Simply click on the menu icon (seen as the three lines menu button) and click “Sign in to Chrome”. In the dialog that appears, sign in using your Google account. A “Confirm Sync Settings” dialog will appear. To sync everything, click “OK”, otherwise, click “Advanced” and select “Choose what to sync” from the drop down menu. You can also choose to encrypt your data with your own passphrase for added security, though by default Google encrypts all synced passwords with your credentials.
Click “OK” to confirm and the setup is complete. The next time you swap computers, simply fire up Chrome and sign in. Within a few minutes your data syncs.
Clipboard Data Sync
Chrome’s built-in sync is good but it isn’t quite good enough. One of the areas it fails to address is clipboard data. Imagine you are in the middle of a task such as composing a blog post, email or entering text in an online form and you are forced to abruptly drop what you are doing. You won’t be able to sync text and images on your clipboard for later use on another computer with Chrome’s built-in sync feature. But, the ever so useful Chrome Web Store has a solution.
Sync Clipboard syncs clipboard text and images across all your Chrome Desktop browsers via Google Drive. Add the extension and restart your browser. To sync your clipboard, quickly press the Ctrl+Shift+X keyboard shortcut. The contents of your keyboard are immediately captured and synced, and you get a small pop-up notification in your system tray. When you open Chrome on another computer and log in, your clipboard is immediately available and you can pick up your work where you left off.
The extension makes use of your Google Drive account. The first time you use the extension you will notice a new folder named Chrome Syncable FileSystem that’s created automatically Google Drive account. This folder contains files that “port” the contents of your clipboard to your new browsing session on a different desktop.
The only drawback I see with this extension, and which I hope the developer is working on, is that it doesn’t keep and sync a clipboard history which in my opinion is an important missing feature.
LastPass Password Sync
The average person has several passwords for various online accounts. It isn’t wise to use the same password for all your online accounts, but on the other hand, remembering numerous passwords is a daunting task even for those with excellent memory.
The LastPass Chrome extension remembers and syncs all your passwords so that you can log into your online accounts from any Chrome browser. Install it from the Chrome Web Store .
Create a LastPass account by entering your e-mail, a master password and password hint. Select a time zone, tick the appropriate boxes and click “Create Account”. You will then be prompted to re-enter your password. Make sure this is something that is both secure and memorable. Never share your Master Password with anyone, including LastPass employees.
Next, configure form fill. This is an important feature that can potentially save you lots time. If you choose to set it up, LastPass will automatically fill out form data for you, for example, when shopping online and this syncs with any browser you log into with the LastPass extension installed.
On the home page of your account, you will see several video tutorials under the Tutorials section. I recommend watching them all to fully familiarize yourself with the application.
Cross-Browser Bookmark Sync
In some instances, you may find yourself using different browsers at different locations. For example, you may be in a field office where the computer assigned to you has Firefox installed (and you have no administrative rights) yet you use Chrome on your more regular desktop. To deal with such an awkward situation, you need a cross browser sync application. X-Marks, which is owned by the same team behind LastPass, is a highly capable cross-browser sync application. It is available for Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer and Firefox.
The application syncs bookmarks and open tabs so that you can pick up your browser session where you left of. We urge you to read our LastPass and X-Marks guide to learn more about how to use these applications to securely sync your browsing sessions.
Note that X-Marks can create confusion if you have Chrome Sync enabled as well. You may need to play around with settings a little or choose between them. Remember, you can always use social bookmarking services like Delicious to supplement your browser syncing services.
How Do You Sync?
In closing, it is important to mention that these hacks assume that the you own the desktops or have exclusive access to them. Never use these tools on a public computer. On a shared computer such as one used by several family members in a household, create separate user accounts. For more great Chrome tools, please see our Best Chrome Extensions page.
What do you think of these Chrome hacks to swap between desktops? What do you use to sync? Please share with us in the comments below.