7 Useful Chrome About Pages You Didn’t Know Exist

Back in 2008, Damien wrote an article going through various Firefox about page tricks. Well, Chrome has similar functions behind the scenes, whereby accessing various about pages lets you turn on and off features that you might not otherwise have access to. They can also provide a window into information that might be useful in debugging a problem you might be having, or useful for some other purpose.

Backtracking for a second, you might be wondering what exactly these “about pages” are that I keep speaking of. You may notice that when you open a new tab in chrome, the address bar contains the text “about:blank”. That code simply tells Google Chrome to display a blank page. Varying the text after “about:” allows you to access special pages. I outline some of the most interesting and useful of these below.

1. about:about

This page lists most (but not all) available about pages that you can access. In my testing, however, the links on this page are not functional despite being clickable, and you need to manually type them into the address bar.


2. about:flags

One of the most interesting about pages, this allows you to turn on what Google terms “experiments”, modifying various functions of the Chrome browser. Some examples are an FPS counter that displays when hardware acceleration is in use, the option to disable VSync, and the ability to enable an in-tab preview of print. I tested a couple of the experiments and found some working, while others didn’t seem to do anything. Please report your findings here.


3. about:plugins

This gives you direct access to the options page where you can enable and disable any plugins that you may have installed for Google Chrome.


4. about:net-internals

A very useful backend tool that gives you access to a list of currently open connections, the ability to check what current proxy settings are in effect, and even a test tool that will try and identify why a certain page is not loading properly. Be careful with what you do here, as I could not find any documentation for it.


5. about:memory

This shows you the memory in use by Chrome as well as any other browsers you may have open. Furthermore, it shows you the memory in use by specific tabs and other processes running under Chrome. This allows you to get a better idea of the resource load of the browser, and to perhaps compare it to other browsers you may use. The memory use summary is currently buggy on OSX.


6. about:cache

This allows you to view everything currently in the browser’s cache. The only catch here is that if you click on a link, it does not actually load the image or the file in a normal way. It will display a hexadecimal & ascii form of the file. You could likely copy and paste this into a hex editor if you wanted to retrieve the contents in a usable format.


7. about:version

This displays the current version of Google Chrome that you have installed, along with the version of JavaScript, Flash and the User Agent that it will be giving to pages that it accesses. It also shows you the currently installed directory as well as the location of your profile. The latter might be useful if you want to back it up.


What other about pages did I miss out?


JJ runs a company that specialises in IT Support and cloud IT Solutions in Australia. He also moonlights as a tech blogger.

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