The Chrome flags come and go at a rapid pace. These features have been aptly renamed “Experiences” by Google because they allow you to enable, disable, and customize various features that are not yet built into the main version of Chrome. Very often these features never end up becoming the full version of Chrome.
But there are real gems in the Chrome flags that can really improve your navigation, so we’ve put together a list of the best of them for you here.
How to access Chrome indicators
Before using any of these Chrome flags, you must first know how to access them. Type chrome: // flags in the address bar of Chrome and press Enter. You will see a large list of Chrome flags with a warning that these features are not stable.
You can use the “Search” function in Chrome (Ctrl + F) to quickly find the features we have listed below.
1. Focus mode
Maybe not quite what you think it is, Focus mode really lets you zoom in on a specific tab that you opened by opening it isolated from the address bar, from the extensions bar and other user interface features that can distract you from focusing. Essentially, it creates a dedicated window for the tab you have chosen.
You can activate it by searching for “focus mode” in the Chrome flags. Once it is activated, relaunch your Chrome browser, then right click on an open tab at the top of the window and click on “Focus on this tab”.
This will open this tab in a new window without a user interface, actually like its own application.
2. Tab groups
Slowly deployed on the latest versions of Chrome, the long-awaited functionality of tab groups is not yet available to everyone, but if you don’t have it, you can get it via the Chrome flags.
Once you’ve activated it, just right-click on the tab you want to add to a group, and you can choose to add it to a new group (at which point you create the group) or to an existing one. This makes tab management a lot sharper, removing that dreaded stack of tabs we’ve been struggling with for years.
It’s not yet as robust as some third-party tab grouping extensions (Toby comes to mind), but it’s a start.
3. Pull to refresh on PC
Android Chrome users will now be very familiar with the pull to refresh gesture, which lets you swipe down from the screen when you’re at the top of a web page to refresh that page.
This Chrome flag lets you do the same on PC using your scroll wheel or touchpad to scroll up when you’re at the top of a web page. If you have a touch screen PC, you can activate this flag only for touch screens.
4. Rasterization without copy (desktop / Android)
Pixelation is the process used by Chrome to organize website data into pixels and tangible information that you see on the screen in front of you. To do this, he organizes each page into “mosaics”, in which case he effectively paints each person’s information to add to the set you see in front of you.
There are a few things you can do with pixelation via the Chrome flags, but one of the best is copyless pixelation, which can lighten the load on a low-end GPU by not downloading every tile change, instead downloading it to your device memory.
This can be particularly useful on mobile devices, with the potential to reduce battery usage when browsing the web.
5. Chrome Duet (Android)
On Android, Google has been experimenting for a few years with a “Duet” interface, which places most of the options such as tabs, search, home and options menu at the bottom of the screen instead of the top.
This feature is not for everyone, but if you want to try it out, look for “Chrome Duet” in the Chrome flags.
Here’s the strange thing: setting Chrome Duet to “Disabled” actually seems to enable it for us, while setting it to “Enabled” disables it. So if that doesn’t work, try doing the opposite of what you think you should be doing!
6. Activate parallel download
There are several features on Chrome Flags that can speed up your browsing, many of which are turned on by default. One of these features, which specifically speeds up your downloads, is “parallel download”, which divides each file you download into three separate tasks, thereby speeding up the whole process.
To activate it in the Chrome indicators, enter
parallel downloading, click “Default” when it appears in the list, then click “Activate”.
7. Activate smooth scrolling
As the name suggests, this allows you to scroll through the content smoothly. When you scroll through Chrome using your mouse or arrow keys, there is a little stutter in the animation. It is therefore difficult to quickly browse the content and easily read what is important at the same time (bad for content skimmers). With this option enabled, smooth scrolling feels good and professional.
Just search for “Smooth Scrolling” or type chrome: // flags / # smooth scrolling in the address bar to access it directly. Activate it using the drop-down menu below.
8. Activate the QUIC experimental protocol
QUIC is a new connection protocol created by Google that is still under development. QUIC is supposed to be a mixture of TCP and UDP protocols which is much faster and more secure at the same time. Usually, when we are on a TCP or UDP connection, it takes several trips to the server before a connection is stable (which takes time) and ready to exchange data. The main objective of the QUIC protocol is to make only one trip to create a connection and start the data exchange process, thereby increasing the overall speed of navigation and data exchange.
In Chrome, you can enable the QUIC protocol to start taking advantage of this protocol now and speed up browsing. Look for the “Experimental QUIC protocol” indicator or type chrome: // flags / # enable-quic to access it directly. Use the drop-down menu below to activate it.
From the same Chrome flags, you can also activate Chrome offline, which lets you access previously visited websites without the need for an Internet connection. Check out this step-by-step guide on how to enable and use offline mode in Chrome if you are interested.
These are just a few of the Chrome metrics that will improve your browsing experience. While there are dozens of other indicators to try, we don’t recommend playing around with them unless you know exactly what you’re doing.
For more help in the online area, check out our guide to viewing online videos with friends in real time. And for something super fun, check out our list of the best hidden Google games you can find on Chrome, Android and elsewhere.
This message was first published in August 2016 and was updated in July 2020.
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