Hidden Chrome Settings You Should Adjust
Chrome is the most popular desktop and mobile internet browser. Since its launch in 2008, Google has cornered the market, with 70% of desktop users opting for Chrome. While Google didn’t initially want to get involved in the browser wars, the company has clearly won it by now.
The latest features allow you to customize your landing page with either custom images or one of Chrome’s own backgrounds. Simply click on the Customize button at the bottom-right of the page.
You can now upload one of your own images by choosing “Upload an image”, or just select one of Chrome’s collection of background images.
While this setting will improve your user experience in Chrome, there is much more that you should set to enhance both the safety and security when browsing the internet.
Hidden Chrome Settings You Should Adjust
Chrome prides itself on providing a fast (and safe) browsing experience. Since the early days of the search engine wars, Google delivered search results that were relevant and faster than anyone else could. Chrome uses the V8 Java Engine and Blink as a browser engine, both developed by Google.
To access Chrome’s settings page, click on the ellipses and select ‘Settings’ from the menu.
Chrome hosts many internal pages that come with the browser when you install it. The settings page is only one of these internal pages. To access internal pages, you can type the page name into the Omnibox (address bar) instead of going via the user interface.
For instance, typing Chrome://Settings into the Omnibox will also open the settings page.
To see all the internal pages available in Chrome, type Chrome://About into the Omnibox and hit Enter.
When you open the settings page, you’ll first see the set of basic settings for chrome.
Scroll down to find the advanced settings section.
Here you can change permissions, manage how Chrome accesses other Google services (such as Gmail), manage certificates and passwords, as well as control how Chrome caches data.
The highest priority settings are the ones that give certain sites permissions to access your PC’s hardware and devices. As the technologies behind the internet improve, web applications require access to all types of your internal hardware. Chrome implemented a sandbox process allocation model, meaning each tab remains secure, without having access to any system critical resources. However, your permission settings creates exceptions to that rule.
To open permission settings, scroll down and select the “Site settings”.
This will open the site permissions page.
Some of the most important settings on this page that are recommended include:
- All Sites: Shows an overview of your current settings with specific site permissions.
- Cookies: Cookies are specific bits of personal information that sites use to optimize your browsing experience. The recommended setting is “Allow Sites to save and read cookie data”.
- Location: Let’s websites to access your geographical location information in order to deliver more specific content to your browser. The recommended setting is “Ask before accessing”.
- Camera: Some sites will access your webcam for either video chat or capturing profile images. The recommended setting is “Ask before accessing”.
- Microphone: Similar to the camera settings, allows access to your PC’s microphone. The recommended setting is “Ask before accessing.
- Motion Sensors: Allows sites to use motion sensors (such as light or proximity sensors). The recommended setting is “Block sites from using motion sensors”.
- Notifications: Sites can create notifications in your browser, even when you aren’t visiting that specific site. The recommended setting is “Ask before sending”.
- Flash: While Flash was a great technology in the past, it carries many inherent security risks. For this reason, most companies are phasing out its use. The recommended setting is “Ask first”.
- Images: Determines how Chrome handles images. If you want to speed up the browsing time and reduce the amount of data you use, you can turn off all images.
- Popups and Redirects: Sites that use popups and automatic redirects are usually up to no good. Chrome blocks these requests by default. The recommended setting is “Blocked”.
- Ads: Online advertising consumes as much as 40% of your data. While you can’t completely block all ads in Chrome, you can block the ones known for showing misleading ones. The recommended setting is “Blocked on sites that show intrusive or misleading ads”.
- Background Sync: Sites like Facebook and Twitter use this to ensure your mobile apps and browser sessions remain synchronized even after you close the tab.
- Sound: Allows sites to play sound. The recommended setting is “Allow sites to play sound”.
- Automatic Downloads: Prevents sites from automatically downloading files to your PC. The recommended setting is “Do not allow any site to download multiple files automatically”.
- Unsandboxed Plugin Access: Prevents plugins from accessing your PC’s system. The recommended setting is “Ask when a site wants to use a plugin to access your computer”.
- Handlers: Allows sites to prompt you before becoming the default handler for protocols.
- MIDI Devices: Let’s websites access any MIDI devices on your computer. The recommended setting is “Ask when a site wants to use system exclusive messages to access MIDI devices”.
- USB Devices: Prevents access to any USB devices or drives connected to your PC. The recommended setting is “Ask when a site wants to access USB devices”.
- Payment Handlers: Allows sites to install payment management protocols. The recommended setting is “Allow sites to install payment handlers”.
Chrome Flags are experimental features that you can change to enhance your browsing experience. To access Chrome Flags, type Chrome://flags into the Omnibox.
To find related flags, simply type in the search box and the list will filter the results.
Some of the best Chrome Flags to enable include:
- Autoplay Policy: Prevents websites from automatically playing video and sound. Set it to “Document user activity is required” which will prompt you before any audio or video can play from any specific site.
- Parallel Downloading: This improves the download speed by splitting files into sections and downloading it concurrently.
- Hyperlink Auditing: Stops Chrome from sharing information about clicks with a third party (and even Google) by default. Enable this for enhanced privacy.
- Single-click Autofill: Let’s Chrome recommend values for fields, so you can quickly complete certain forms.
- Automatic Tab Discarding: If you use multiple tabs during your browsing activities, the sandboxed resource allocation model can consume a lot of background memory. Enabling this Flag will kill the processes without destroying the tabs. Once you click on the tab, Chrome will reload it for you.
- Automatic Password Generation: It is always good practice to have different passwords for every site. However keeping track of every password may make you less safe if you have to write them down or worse, save them in a text file. This Flag will generate and save passwords in Chrome for you.
If you’ve granted permissions for Chrome to access devices such as your webcam or integrated microphone, but the device isn’t working, you should check that you are using the correct hardware drivers. In cases like this, Driver Support can help. The software will catalog your PC’s hardware, find the exact required driver, and even optimize the device settings for you.
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