If you don’t already have the latest version of Google Chrome installed and running properly on your system, take those preliminary steps now. Afterward, open the Chrome Web Store, and you’ll see an overwhelming array of Chrome apps for augmenting your browser with games, music players, and social networks. The extensions we’ll focus on here are designed to make Chrome leaner, meaner and more efficient.
FastestChrome: As its name would lead you to expect, FastestChrome adds a few useful time-saving tools to your Chrome browser. Its features consist mainly of surface-level stuff, such as displaying a pop-up bubble with an explanation of a word whenever you highlight one, and providing the option to look up that word on any of four different search engines (Wikipedia, DuckDuckGo, Surf Canyon, and of course Google.)
The extension also lets you choose to automatically transform written URL text into clickable links (which makes reading email messages from less tech-savvy friends a lot easier), and its Endless Pages feature automatically loads the next page of a website (think Google search results or an eight-page Vanity Fair article) so you won’t waste precious seconds clicking Next and waiting for the page to load.
Google Quick Scroll: This extension whisks you straight to the search terms you’re looking for on any given website. With Google Quick Scroll installed in Google Chrome, every time you click through a search link, a tiny box containing a preview of the text highlighted in your search result will pop up in the bottom-right corner of your browser. Click that box, and Chrome will take you there without further ado.
Chrome Toolbox: Install the Chrome Toolbox to open multiple bookmarks in a single click, to cache unsubmitted form data so you can avoid retyping it each time you create a new profile, to magnify images and video right from within your browser, and in general to make Chrome twice as useful as it already is.
Experiment at your own risk
To reach Google Chrome’s hidden experimental options, first launch Chrome; then typechrome://flags/ in the address field, and press Enter. You’ll jump to a page containing an array of experimental options, a few of which directly affect browser performance. To see other hidden Chrome menus that you can access via the address field, typechrome://chrome-urls/ in the address bar and then press Enter. The ‘flags’ page is where Chrome parks all of the hidden and experimental options, so that’s where we’re headed.
At this is the point, we’d normally offer a disclaimer about messing around with experimental features in an application—but Google has handled that task quite well on its own. The first thing you’ll see when you reach Chrome’s flags options is a huge warning that reads as follows:
“Careful, these experiments may bite! WARNING These experimental features may change, break, or disappear at any time. We make absolutely no guarantees about what may happen if you turn one of these experiments on, and your browser may even spontaneously combust. Jokes aside, your browser may delete all your data, or your security and privacy could be compromised in unexpected ways. Any experiments you enable will be enabled for all users of this browser. Please proceed with caution.”
Though the stuff we’ll discuss doing in this article is more likely to cause simple rendering errors or to adversely affect performance than to wreak any major havoc, caution is appropriate.