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Ten cool Google Chrome tips and tweaks

Get more from Google's Web browser.
  • Tom Spring (PC World (US online))
  • 09 September, 2008 15:20
Ten top tips and tweaks for Google's new Chrome Web browser.

Ten top tips and tweaks for Google's new Chrome Web browser.

My guess is most people don't use Google's new Chrome Web browser as their primary browser yet. Google still has a long way to go with the browser adding features and fixing problems. Nevertheless, I've collected what I think are some of the most useful tips and the most interesting tweaks for the Chrome browser.

ONE: Surprisingly Handy Keyboard Shortcuts

Google Chrome offers some unique shortcuts that go beyond the typical CTRL + T for opening new browser tabs. Here is a link to all of Google Chrome keyboard shortcuts. And here three that I find unique, when compared to those offered by Firefox and IE.

CTRL + SHIFT + N automatically opens up a Chrome 'incognito' window which allows you to surf on a PC without leaving behind any digital footprints.

SHIFT + Escape allows for fast access to Chrome?s Task Manager utility that allows you to nix browser processes that have gone awry.

CTRL + SHIFT + T will open recently closed browser tabs.

TWO: Custom Searches

When you want to run a search directly from Google's address bar (a.k.a. Omnibox) just type a question mark (?) followed by a keyword. The default search engine is Google. To change the default search engine to anything you want go right-click inside the address bar and select "Edit search engines." You can choose from a predefined list, or create your own.

Here is how to create your own shortcut to search the site of your choice directly from Google Chrome's Omnibox.

1) Right-click inside address bar and select "Edit search engines."

2) With that dialogue box remaining open, now go to a website you would like to create a custom search for. For the sake of example try Dictionary.com

3) Once you visit the site now look at your "Search Engines" configuration window and you'll notice under the "Other search engines" field Dictionary.com has been added.

4) Next you'll want to change the "Keyword" to something short and easy to remember such as DIC.

Now when you want to look up a word at Dictionary.com all you have to do is type in Chrome's Omnibox "DIC" proceeded by the word you want to look up.

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THREE: Everyone Loves an Easter Egg

Type about:internets into the address bar and you'll see a tribute to United States Senator Ted Stevens' take on the Internet. (This only works in Windows XP)

FOUR: Larger Comment Boxes

Comment boxes on Web sites soliciting feedback can sometimes be way too small. With Chrome you simply click on the corner of any Web-based comment field and stretch it out as large as you like.

FIVE: Help Direct Me Home, Please

I appreciate Google Chrome's minimalist approach to design that leaves the interface clutter-free. But without a Home button Chrome feels a bit like a house with no front door. To regain the Home button on your browser simply go to the wrench icon, select the Google Chrome Options, click on the Basics tab, and check the "Show Home button on the Toolbar" box.

SIX: Fun With Tabs

Browser tabs are an incredibly useful feature in browsers today. Google has spent some time and made them even more useful by allowing more tab flexibility than is currently possible with IE or Firefox. Chrome allows you to peel browser tabs off a browser so they can become their own browser window. Chrome also allows you to take two separate Chrome browsers and drag them together creating one window with two tabs.

SEVEN: More Privacy Please

As privacy issues continue to swirl around Google new concerns have been raised regarding Google's Chrome browser. According to reports Google's auto-suggest (featured in the Chrome browser Omnibar) allows Google to know everything you type into it ? even if you don't hit enter. CNET's Ina Fried suggests you disable the feature.

To disable the auto-suggest feature right-click inside the Omnibar and un-check the "Use a suggestion service to help complete searches."

EIGHT: Go Incognito on the Fly

Not sure what awaits you when you contemplate clicking on that link? If you want to make sure your Web tracks are covered just right-click the link and select "Open link in incognito window."

NINE: No Google Toolbar for Google Chrome, No Problem

Former PC World Editor in Chief, Harry McCracken, has been bemoaning the ironic fact Google Chrome doesn't support the handy Google Toolbar at his Technologizer Web site. The Google Toolbar, available for IE and Firefox, bring much versatility to the browser including a shortcut to Gmail, access to online Google Bookmarks, a spell checker, and the ability to send URL links via e-mail in just a few clicks.

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McCracken explains he has found a way to create an approximation to the Google Toolbar by tweaking Google Chrome with a technique he calls "Project Fakebar." For those with idle time, head on over to the Technologizer site and find out how to put a Fakebar on your Chrome Browser.

TEN: Enable Firefox to Run More Like Chrome

My last tip and tweak isn't absolutely Chrome-centric, rather Chrome related. For those who like the innovative new features Chrome offers, but aren't happy with some of the bugs, security, and privacy issues you can have your cake and eat it too.

LifeHacker offers a list of ways to configure Firefox to embody some of Chromes coolest new features. For example LifeHacker offers ways to surf with Firefox incognito-style, highlight domains in your address bar, and convert Websites into applications.