What is Chrome Helper on Mac and why is it causing high CPU usage?

What is Chrome Helper on Mac and why is it causing high CPU usage?

As good as it is, Google Chrome is still a big memory problem. All of its positives aside, Chrome’s continued bloat with new features and extensions over the years often puts unnecessary strain on your system resources. Chrome Helper, in particular, often seems to be the centerpiece of browser’s memory usage. What is Chrome Helper and why is it using so much CPU? Let’s take a look at why and what you can do about it.

What is Chrome Helper?

Remember the last time you used Chrome, and it looked like an airplane about to take off. This moment in time is probably due to Chrome Helper. Think of Chrome Helper as something that Google has added to the browser to grab content from a variety of browser plugins and help it run more smoothly.

For example, when you open a website that has embedded video, Chrome first loads all the HTML content. Then it will use Chrome Helper to fetch the video from the server it is stored on and upload it to the page.

What is Chrome Helper Explainer

How Chrome Helper Uses Too Much Memory The answer isn’t limited to just one instance, but chances are you’ll see multiple instances of Chrome Helper running at the same time. Ultimately, these instances can increase the amount of available RAM you have on your computer, causing high CPU spikes.

The result is that Chrome will freeze, your computer will run slowly, or all of the above can happen. Chrome Helper isn’t limited to embedded video either. This can also be attributed to other Chrome operations, such as poorly coded browser extensions. The result of all of this is that you can end up with every Chrome plugin having its own Chrome Helper process as well as every installed extension that has its own.

How to disable Chrome Helper in the short term

Now that you know what Chrome Helper is and why it takes up so much memory, it’s time to turn it off. There are two ways to do this to get your processor back on your Mac. Let’s start with the short path.

1. Open Chrome, copy and paste the following items into the omnibox: chrome: // settings / content / unsandboxedPlugins. Press Enter and the Chrome plugin will appear immediately.

What are Chrome helper plugins?What are Chrome helper plugins?

2. By default, the option “Ask when a site wants to use a plug-in to access your computer” will be enabled.

What is Chrome Helper Plugins ArrowWhat is Chrome Helper Plugins Arrow

3. Turn off the switch so that the browser now says: “Do not allow any site to use a plug-in to access your computer.”

What Chrome Helper does not allowWhat Chrome Helper does not allow

How to disable Chrome Helper for the long term

1. If using the omnibox does not work for you or if you prefer a longer but more user-friendly path, open Chrome and go to “Settings -> Advanced -> Privacy and security -> Site settings”.

What are Chrome Helper site settingsWhat are Chrome Helper site settings

2. Scroll down until you see “Plugin access without sandbox” at the bottom of the page and open it.

What is Chrome Helper Sandbox Free PageWhat is Chrome Helper Sandbox Free Page

3. You have now located the correct settings. Tap “Sandboxless plugin access” and turn off “Prompt when a site wants to use a plugin to access your computer settings.”

What is Chrome Helper Plugins ArrowWhat is Chrome Helper Plugins Arrow

This is the “longer” method. Fortunately, whichever method you choose, they both work.

Remove unwanted extensions

Part of the popularity of Chrome is the sheer number of extensions available that can help you customize your browser in almost endless ways. The downside is that many of these extensions can consume your CPU and cause Mac slowdowns. This occasionally helps to purge Chrome of any unwanted or unused Chrome extensions that can lead to unnecessary CPU usage.

What are Chrome Helper unwanted extensionsWhat are Chrome Helper unwanted extensions

To find the currently installed extensions, look at the Mac menu bar when Chrome is open and click “Window -> Extensions”. You will now see everything installed as well as what is running or disabled.

Besides the fixes above, you can also enable some of the experimental Chrome flags to improve your browsing experience or learn how to fix the issue when Chrome goes black. Still, knowing how to turn off Chrome Helper can be extremely valuable in ensuring that newer and older Macs can continue to function in the future.


David Beren
David Beren

David Beren is a freelance technical writer with over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He loves dogs, his kids and everything Nintendo.

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