We recently ran a full comparison of four major browsers and found that Chrome came out on top in most areas. If you aren’t using it right now, maybe it’s time to give it another shot? It’s pretty darn good.
The beauty of Chrome is that anyone can pick it up in minutes, yet it has a lot of neat and useful features hidden beneath that simple exterior. These features aren’t too impressive on their own, but put them all together and suddenly they can make your life much easier.
If you consider yourself to be a power user — someone who uses Chrome every day and needs optimal workflow — then you’d do well to start using these features. Any increase in productivity can really add up over time, after all.
1. Bookmarks Bar
The Bookmarks Bar is one of the best browser features of all time. Like the Windows Taskbar or the OS X Dock, it lets you access any site with a single mouse click. The problem is that it can quickly get cluttered and out of control, which is why I use two tips to keep it organized.
First, don’t title your bookmarks. Every website has a unique favicon that you can use as an identifier, so titles are just unnecessary wastes of space. In fact, erasing titles could free up enough space to fit 3x or 4x more bookmarks on the bar.
Second, use folders! Folders are an essential component for keeping your bookmarks library organized, yet users somehow forget that folders can also be used on the bookmarks bar. Create folders for News, Games, Work, Music, etc. and marvel at how much extra space you now have.
2. Pinned Tabs
With the prevalence of modern Web apps, browsers like Chrome are turning into full-blown workstations. For example, I have a lot of tabs that I keep open 24/7, including Slack, Trello, and Google Docs. If you also have tabs that are always open, consider pinning them.
Pinned tabs have two benefits: first, they collapse in size so they take up less space in your tab bar, and second, they stay there even after you close and reopen the browser. The latter benefit is great if you don’t like the setting where Chrome saves tabs from session to session.
To pin a tab, just right-click on it and select Pin Tab.
Improve your Chrome tab organization even more by using these awesome tab management extensions.
3. Custom Search Queries
One of the defining features of Chrome is its Omnibox, which is the combination of the address bar and the search bar into one. On top of showing the current website’s URL, the omnibox can do a whole lot of other things that you really should learn if you really care about productivity.
First things first, use Ctrl + L to instantly select the Omnibox at any time. This is a fundamental keyboard shortcut to know to really take advantage of its features.
Once you know that, you’ll need to set up advanced search queries that let you easily perform all kinds of specialized actions like doing quick math as well as searching specific domains, websites, your Gmail or Google Drive accounts, your Google Calendar, your bookmarks, and more.
4. Save All Open Tabs
As a power user, you probably juggle dozens of tabs every single day. In fact, if you’re like me, you probably use your tabs as a “I’ll check this out later” bar, letting the tabs pile up until they start affecting browser performance. It’s a bad habit and one worth breaking.
Here’s one workaround that I like: Go to the Bookmarks menu and select the Bookmark All Tabs… option. This will take all open tabs and save them inside a new folder in your bookmarks library, allowing you to close all of those resource-sucking tabs and revisit them later.
When you’re ready to check them out again, just open the Bookmarks Manager, right-click on the folder you made, and select Open All Bookmarks.
5. Advanced Sync Settings
Another way to know if you’re a power user? You use Chrome across many different devices, especially if you use it across several different computers. For a flawless user experience, it’s important to keep your settings consistent from machine to machine, which is where synchronization comes into play.
Open the Settings page for Chrome, click on Sign in to Chrome at the very top, and enter your account credentials. You can now pick between Sync everything (which is convenient but most likely unnecessary) and Choose what to sync (which is what we recommend).
By syncing certain settings and details across multiple machines, you can ensure a consistent experience no matter which machine you use. Plus, if you ever reformat or get a new computer, you can sync up and be ready to go in no time.
6. The Task Manager
As awesome as Chrome is, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll run into performance issues at some point. The most common problem is high RAM usage but CPU spikes are also frequent, so you’ll want to be familiar with the Task Manager.
You can access it by pressing Shift + Escape. If that doesn’t work, go to the options menu, navigate to the More Tools submenu, then select Task Manager.
The Task Manager shows you all processes that belong to Chrome and how many resources each one is taking up, including RAM, CPU, and network bandwidth. It’s a great way to diagnose — and kill — tabs that are frozen, hogging memory, or slowing down your system.
7. Recent History List
Unlike the History page in Chrome, which is one big pile of all the webpages you’ve visited, each individual tab in Chrome keeps track of its own history of visited webpages. Navigating this per-tab history can be a pain though because you have to keep clicking the Back and Forward arrows.
Except you don’t have to do that all. Just right-click on the Back arrow to see the list of previous pages visited from within the current tab. The same works for the Forward arrow too if you navigated into one of those in-the-past pages.
8. Incognito Mode
One of the first things that any Chrome power user should learn is that Incognito Mode isn’t just for porn. There are many mundane yet practical reasons why Incognito windows should be part of your daily browsing experience. Here are two in particular:
Log into other accounts. What if you want to sign into two different Google accounts at once? The easiest way is to be logged into your main account regularly, and then open an Incognito window that you can use to log into the second account. No logging out necessary.
Better prices online. Sometimes online retailers will save cookies on your computer and then jack up prices the next time you visit their site. (Airlines are notorious for doing this.) Incognito mode prevents those cookies, allowing you to keep prices at a minimum.
9. Extensions for Productivity
What would Chrome be without its extensions? While Chrome itself is a power user’s haven, you can ramp it up several levels by choosing a few extensions that complement your personal workflow. Here are a few that we recommend.
StayFocusd, Blocksite, and Productivity Owl can help you curb your procrastination habits by blocking certain websites. Each one works in a unique way, so you should pick the one that best suits the way you procrastinate, but regardless don’t underestimate how helpful they can be.
Autocopy automatically copies text to your clipboard when you highlight anything. If you do a lot of copy-pasting off the Web, this can really save you a lot more time that you think it would.
Imagus enlarges image thumbnails as you hover your mouse over them. It’s easy to set up and works with thousands of sites across the Web.
Vimium (inspired by the Vim text editor) adds a whole host of keyboard shortcuts that makes it possible for you to browse the Web without using a mouse at all. Absolutely perfect for advanced power users who want to wring out every last bit of productivity possible.
And while we’re on the subject, make sure you familiarize yourself with these awesome Shift key shortcuts and these mouse scrollwheel shortcuts that can boost your productivity without any extensions involved.
Do you consider yourself a power user? What other Chrome tricks do you think everyone should be aware of? Is Chrome really the best browser? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
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