How To Become A Chrome Power User, Part 2: Bookmarks, Settings & Extensions
Google Chrome has built a huge user base that other competing browsers could only dream about. And although there are still some good alternatives , Chrome still has won many of us over. If you’ve coming here from part one of this series , welcome! If this is the first article you’re reading, you don’t have to read part one first as this one can stand alone by itself. That said, you still should read it as using keyboard shortcuts is a huge asset to Chrome.
Moving on, let’s cover some of the other Chrome power user tips and tricks.
Spice Up Your Interface
Chrome already has an awesome minimalistic design, so it’s taken care of the hard work for you. However there are a few things that I recommend.
Toggle Your Bookmarks Bar
If you are someone who is not always accessing your bookmarks, but still uses them frequently and want them easily accessible, consider hiding the bar using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+B , which was covered in Part 1 . This gives you a tad bit more screen space for webpages and makes it look cleaner as well.
Pin Tabs You Access Frequently
If you routinely visit the same websites upon opening your Chrome browser, consider pinning them and they will open automatically next time you launch your browser. Pinned tabs also add to a minimalistic design. I also use them to differentiate between the ones I want to remain open and the ones that can be closed during a session of using Chrome. To do this, right click on the tab and choose Pin Tab.
Personalize Your Browser With A Theme
Perhaps you already do this one – it’s not difficult at all. If you haven’t already done so, take a look at the themes in the Chrome Web Store. There are a lot of different styles, so choose the one that fits you best. Personally, I wanted one that was modern, but not too busy so I went with a theme with varying colors of grey.
Customize Your Start Page
Sure you could have a boring Google Search start page, and maybe that’s what you like, but why not make it a bit more useful? There are plenty of web-based options that don’t require installing an extension. Such examples are MyFav.es, Keyboardr.com and Symbaloo.com. I personally use MyFav.es (pictured above), but I recently discovered Keyboardr and really like its simplicity.
Alternatively, you can just have a blank page, which there is nothing wrong with as it provides the ultimate minimalistic approach to Chrome. To do this, use about:blank. And don’t worry if you don’t know how to set the start page, we’ll cover that in a bit.
- Great Personalized Start Pages- 6 Alternatives To iGoogle
- Backstitch- A Viable Personalized Start Page Alternative For iGoogle Refugees
Organize & Manage Your Bookmarks
Having organized bookmarks just makes using your browser way more efficient, so why not? If you currently have unorganized bookmarks, don’t worry – I do too. In general, I recommend using a folder system like you might for your computer files.
This might take some time to organize it all, but there are three excellent MakeUseOf articles which you can use as resources to really help you:
- 3 Steps To An Organized & Simplistic Chrome Bookmarks Bar
- Everything You Need to Know About Managing Chrome Bookmarks
- How To Manage 17 Years Of Bookmarks
Understand & Customize The Settings (AKA Under The Hood)
If you’re using Chrome without customizing these settings, you aren’t getting the most out of Chrome. And it’s not complicated, so don’t worry. I’m going to cover many of the major ones, but if you haven’t poked around in the Chrome Settings before, you will find some other features and settings that will be useful to you too.
Sync Your Data
If you’re not signing into Chrome, you definitely should. By doing so, you can sync any or all of your data to your Google profile. This allows you to literally access your personal settings from any Chrome browser. A huge benefit of this is when you get a new computer, as you can make the transition very easily . No need to back up and save your bookmarks or move over your existing browser files to have the same settings. Just download Chrome and sign in and you’ve got the browser you’ve always known on your brand new computer.
Under Advanced Sync Settings you have the option to sync everything or choose what you sync. Depending on if you use extensions for saving your bookmarks and passwords, you may want to uncheck those to prevent duplicates, especially with the bookmarks.
You’re also able to choose what you want to encrypt and what the passphrase is.
Change/Set Up Chrome’s Startup Behavior
Remember when we were talking about what you set as your homepage? This is where you set that. You have three choices as to what Chrome will do when it starts up – Open a New Tab page, continue where I left off, or open a specific page or set of pages.
To add pages just click Set Pages, which is after the third option.
Manage & Customize Search Engines
Did you know Google Chrome lets you set other search engines, other than Google Search, as the default search in the Omnibox? Under the Search headline in the settings you can choose others from the dropdown menu, or if the one you want isn’t present, you can add (and delete others) by clicking Manage search engines.
Create Multiple Google Profiles
Next you can create multiple users in Chrome. Guy wrote an awesome article on setting these up and their benefits for greater productivity and organization.
This is also where you’re able to import bookmarks and settings from other browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or the Google Toolbar.
Manage Privacy Settings
One you’ve scrolled all the way down, you’ll see the link Show advanced settings. By clicking this you are given even more, many of which I don’t really feel are that “advanced” and shouldn’t be hidden, but that’s just my take. One of these important settings is the privacy portion, which contains settings that protect you from malware and phishing to URL prediction in the address bar.
But there are a lot more settings there and under the Content settings button.
Also, you can clear your browsing data by clicking the Clear browsing data button.
Set Up Google Cloud Print
If you find yourself wanting to print from your computer while away from your printer or needing to share your printer with others, Google Cloud Print is about to make your life a whole lot easier and it already has been for lots of Chrome users. Chris wrote an excellent article explaining how to set it up and use it.
Use Extensions And/Or Bookmarklets
Manager Your Bookmarks With Xmarks
Chrome does have bookmark sync, yes, but I prefer Xmarks, as it allows you to sync bookmarks between different browsers as well. Also, it allows you to be portable , should you need to access your bookmarks from a public computer.
Manage Your Passwords
Having secure passwords is crucial. And password managers make it incredible easy to have secure passwords and remember them efficiently . Such extensions like Dashlane , Roboform and LastPass are the top contenders in this area. Again, Chrome can sync your passwords as well, and if you prefer that method, that’s fine, but I feel a password manager is much more secure.
Clip Webpages And Save Them To Read Later
There are a lot of tools that can do this, but I think it’s important to have at least one go-to extension that you use to save content from around the Internet. This is great for all areas of web use, from researching to just every day usage. We covered 9 tools you can use to save stuff from around the web . Such tools include Evernote , Readability, Instapaper, Springpad and so on.
Read Webpages Easier
If you want to read the web page right away, it’s important to have the right tools for the job. Many websites are cluttered with various fonts, busy formats, ads, etc. To pull all that away and leave only the text might some complicated, but there are a couple excellent Chrome extensions that do very well at this. Ones I recommend looking into are iReader and Clearly.
Manage Your Tabs
If you’re like me, you might have an embarrassing amount of tabs open. Let’s just say it’s common for me to have around 20 or so, so tab management is crucial. There are a lot of extensions available that help you do this, but some raise above the others and those are OneTab , Session Buddy, The Great Suspender, Tab Wrangler, TooManyTabs and so on.
The two I personally use and recommend are OneTab and Session Buddy – both have their strong points. While OneTab is great for quickly combining all tabs down into links into one tab, Session Buddy has quite a few more features and really give you a solid amount of options.
For more information, check out the articles The 10 Best Extensions For Chrome Tab Management and Is Chrome Hogging All Your RAM? Make It Behave With These 2 Extensions .
Easily Share Links To Social Networks
I could recommend a lot of extensions for this category, but instead I’m going to recommend just one – Buffer. I’ve mentioned Buffer before in articles like Distributing Your Blog Content: The Best Auto-Posting Services and 5 Ways To Easily Access Social Networks From A Single App . It truly is the best way to share to social networks right from your browser.
Customize Your Start & New Tab Pages
Besides using websites like we talked about previously, extensions can also play a role in improving your Chrome experience. Ones like Currently, Awesome New Tabs Page and Speed Dial 2 are all excellent extensions that you should consider trying.
Below is an image of Currently.
Quick Access To Chrome Settings
Accessing Chrome’s hidden settings , many of which you might not even know about, is a huge benefit. But how? Do you just know what to type in? What if you forget? A Google Search? That’s a hassle every time you want to access these kinds of settings.
Plus there are others that it would be nice to access quicker as well like the History, Downloads, etc. Look no further than the Mega Button, which we’ve reviewed already.
Browse The Web Safely
Lastly, it’s important to be browsing the web safely. There’s no better tool to help you with this than Web Of Trust (WOT), which we really like here at MakeUseOf. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the idea behind it is a community-based rating system for websites that are color coded – green, yellow and red – green being the best, red the worst in privacy and security.
As you can tell, there’s a lot that Chrome can do – a lot – from keyboard shortcuts to minor interface changes to in-depth customizable settings. But now you have these tips and tools. So go on, become the power user you’ve always dreamed of becoming. All kidding aside, these will allow you to be more efficient and perhaps impress a few people in the process.
Do you have a favorite Chrome power user tip or trick that I left out or perhaps an interesting experience or even a question? Share them in the comments.