Google Chrome is the world’s most popular browser, but just because it gets a lot right doesn’t mean you can’t improve it. If you know how to use Chrome, you likely understand that some of its best options are hidden.
Many of these secret options live in the Flags menu. Let’s discuss some of these Chrome flags that you can tweak for a faster, more useful, or more enjoyable experience.
What Is the Flags Menu?
Chrome has a list of experimental features that you can toggle by entering this address in your search bar:
Doing so will grant you access to the backdoor list of new options. Chrome keeps these options hidden so that novice users don’t play with them and accidentally create issues. Not all of them are applicable for normal use, but you’ll find several that are worth tweaking.
Please note Chrome’s warning that these flags can cause security issues and potential data loss.
Note that since the flags aren’t in any sort of order, you should use the search bar at the top of the screen to jump to them. Google may change or remove these flags at any time, so you shouldn’t get too attached to them. Sometimes they end up in the stable releases as full features and other times they disappear.
Before you start, click the three-bar Menu icon and browser to Help > About Google Chrome to check for browser updates. We used Chrome version 63 when creating this list.
Once you’ve enabled the Chrome flags you want to try, just click the big Relaunch Now button at the bottom of the screen. Chrome will restart and you can use the flags you’ve turned on. If you find something isn’t working right, just open the flags page and click Reset all to default.
1. Show Page Titles With Suggestions
When you type a few characters into the Chrome search bar, it shows you suggestions pages from your history. By default, these only include the URLs, which makes them a bit difficult to distinguish. If you don’t mind sacrificing some space, enabling this flag will show the page titles in the suggestions, too.
2. Tab Discarding
Chrome is infamous for sucking up a ton of memory. If you have a lower-end computer, you can use this flag to help conserve some RAM. Enabling it will make Chrome “disable” tabs that you haven’t used in a while. They stay at the top of your browser and will reload when you click them.
Visit chrome://discards to see some information about tab discarding. Chrome will show your tabs in order of how “interesting” they are. The lowest tabs on the list will get discarded first if you run low on memory.
3. Quickly Mute Tabs
Trying to find which tab is blasting an auto-playing video is annoying. Thankfully, Chrome displays a speaker icon on tabs playing sound, but you have to right-click and select Mute tab to shut them up. Enabling this flag lets you mute a tab just by clicking its speaker icon.
To help avoid other types of distractions while using Chrome, take a look at this list of useful extensions:
4. Generate Passwords Automatically
You hopefully know that using a strong password is paramount to online security. We recommend using a password manager to create and save strong passwords. But if you don’t want to or can’t do that, Chrome can make passwords for you.
Enable the flag above, make sure you’re signed into your Google account in Chrome, and your browser will generate passwords on account creation pages. It syncs these to your Google account automatically. If you’d rather have it only generate one when you say so, use the #enable-manual-password-generation flag instead. This adds a Generate password link to the right-click menu.
5. Stop Websites From Hijacking Navigation
Have you ever been on a website, clicked the Back button, and found that you stayed right on the same page? This is due to websites abusing the History feature in your browser and writing dummy entries that keep you on their page when you click Back. Thus, you have to click the button several times quickly to escape.
Chrome’s developers noticed this and added a flag to battle it. Enable it, and websites won’t be allowed to write extra entries into your history unless you interact with the page.
6. Prevent Pages From Jumping Around
Most webpages don’t load everything at once. Because of this, you’ll often have a page jump when it loads an ad or another element. This is jarring if you’re reading and suddenly the browser loses your place.
Enabling this flag will force Chrome to keep your position when new content loads. The result is a less disruptive experience — it’s vital on mobile but handy on your desktop too.
7. Get Extra Warning About Insecure Sites
You’ve probably noticed that Chrome displays secure sites (using HTTPS) with a green padlock icon. Whenever a site uses an insecure connection (HTTP), however, Chrome doesn’t use any colors. It displays a Not Secure message, but that’s easy to miss.
Set this flag to its most sensitive setting, Always mark HTTP as actively dangerous, and Chrome will feature that Not Secure text in red instead. It’s a minor touch, but a good reminder not to enter any private information on insecure sites. Note that Chrome will always display a red warning icon on unsafe sites, like those with invalid security certificates.
8. Enable HDR
HDR, or high dynamic range, is one of the latest advancements in display technology. It essentially makes colors richer by increasing the contrast and providing more colors to display. This has been in TVs for a while, but computer monitors are just starting to support HDR. Thus, you can expect them to carry a hefty price tag.
Nonetheless, if you own an HDR monitor, you should take a moment to enable this flag so Chrome supports HDR content. It might not do much now, but we’ll surely see more support for HDR in the near future.
9. Easily Show Cached Websites
Whenever you visit a website, your browser stores a copy of it in its cache. This allows it to quickly display the webpage again when you next visit it without downloading everything twice.
Normally, when you try to access a website that won’t load, your only options are refreshing and waiting. But if you set this flag to Enable: Primary, you’ll see a new Show saved copy button. This lets you see the website as your browser last saved it, as long as you haven’t cleared it.
Of course, if the website isn’t responding you can’t do much with it. But this will at least let you finish an article you were reading.
10. Show When Your Credit Card Was Used Last
We don’t recommend that you save credit cards in your browser, as it’s too easy for someone else to use them. If you insist on doing so, however, you can enable a flag to see when your card was last used.
Once you enable this, you’ll see the last date you card was used in the autofill function. This can help you decipher if someone used your card without your permission. It’s a neat feature, but you’re better off just removing your card from Chrome instead.
In our testing, we found two additional flags that aren’t immediately useful to most people, but are worth a quick mention.
Doing one task on our devices isn’t enough, so the latest trend is picture-in-picture mode. This allows you to pop out a window on your Android device or iPad to watch a YouTube video or similar on top of another app.
Using this flag, you can try the same on your desktop. The description claims that it adds a pop-out function when you right-click a full-screen video. However, it doesn’t do anything as of this writing. Google may implement this feature soon or drop it. Regardless, you can add picture-in-picture support now with a Chrome extension.
When you scroll a webpage using your mouse wheel, arrow keys, or touchpad shortcut, you might have noticed a jerky animation. This flag will smooth out that stutter and make your scrolling nice and crisp.
The Default setting on this flag seems to enable smooth scrolling. However, some claim that when you have many Chrome tabs open, the browser reverts to the clunky scroll format. So while you might not notice a difference with this one if you have a powerful PC, you can still give it a try if you like.
What Are Your Favorite Chrome Flags?
Now you have 10 new Chrome options to play around with. Google could easily remove any of these flags or add new ones, so keep an eye out if you’re interested in trying more experimental features. You can also try the Chrome Beta for access to the latest features before they go mainstream.
If you’ve got an Android phone, try enabling some of the best mobile Chrome flags too.
Did you know about any of these Chrome flags? What other flags have you enabled for a better browsing experience? Share them with us down in the comments!