Chrome Flags come and go at a rapid rate. These features have been aptly renamed to “Experiments” by Google because they let you enable, disable and customize various features that are yet to make it into the mainline Chrome release. Quite often, these features never end up making it into the full version of Chrome.
But there are some real gems in Chrome flags which can really enhance your browsing, so we’ve put together a list of the best of them for you here.
How to Access Chrome Flags
Before you use any of these Chrome flags, you first need to know how to access them. Type chrome://flags in the Chrome address bar and hit Enter. You will see a big list of Chrome Flags with a warning that these features are not stable.
You can use Chrome’s “Find” (Ctrl + F) feature to quickly find the features we have listed below.
1. Heavy Ad Intervention
Intrusive adverts are both the bane of the Internet but also, unfortunately, its life force. By default, Chrome does a so-so job of blocking ads for you (unless they’re Google ads, in which case it’s open season!), but you can enable this flag to bolster Chrome’s ad-blocking defences.
Search for “heavy ad intervention” in Chrome flags and enable it when you find it. This flag will hone in on ads that use too many system resources, automatic ad videos, and more, blocking them from your browser.
2. Force Dark Mode
Dark mode is the thing that everyone’s after right now, making your screen much less strenuous on the eyes when you use it in the evenings or in a dark environment. You can make window borders darker using your OS settings, but to actually make entire web pages dark, you’ll need to enable this flag.
Find “force dark mode” in Chrome flags, then click the drop-down menu next to it.
You’ll see that you have many different variants of dark mode that you can choose. You can experiment with these different Dark Mode variants to see which works best or just select “Enabled” for the default option.
3. Reader Mode
While Microsoft’s twist on a Chromium-based browser now includes a reader mode clickable from the URL bar, Google Chrome is yet to have it as a default feature. However, a quick tweak in Chrome Flags, and you can add an “Immersive Reader” mode to your omnibox.
Find “reader mode” in Flags, enable it, and an icon will appear in your address bar. Click it to turn that page into immersive reader mode. You can then click the “A” icon at the top of the page to change your reader settings.
4. GPU Rasterization
Chrome doesn’t rely too much on your GPU to process images and data, but if you have a dedicated GPU, then there are a few things you can do to offload some of the processing onto it, speeding up the browser.
Rasterization is the process Chrome uses to organize website data into the pixels and tangible information you end up seeing on the screen in front of you. It does this by organizing each page into “Tiles,” at which point it effectively paints in the information in each one to add up to the whole you see in front of you.
Enabling “GPU rasterization” gets your GPU to always do the above process instead of your CPU (or processor). This can make browsing faster if your CPU isn’t particularly powerful or, conversely, if your GPU is very powerful.
5. Zero-Copy Rasterization (Desktop/Android)
There are a few things you can do with rasterization through Chrome flags, but one of the best is zero-copy rasterization, where writers raster streams straight to your GPU memory (or VRAM), which can work faster than using your regular RAM (particularly if you have 4GB or less RAM on your PC).
This can be particularly helpful on mobile devices, with the potential to reduce battery usage when you browse the Web.
6. Tab Groups
Slowly being rolled out to the latest Chrome builds, the long-awaited Tab Groups feature isn’t with everyone yet, but if you don’t have it, you can grab it from Chrome Flags.
Once you have it enabled, just right-click the tab you want to add to a group and choose to add it to a new group (at which point you create the group) or an existing one. It makes tab management a whole lot neater, removing that dreaded pile-up of tabs that we’ve all been struggling with for years now.
It’s not yet as robust as certain third-party tab grouping extensions (Toby springs to mind), but it’s a start.
7. Chrome Duet (Android)
On Android, Google has been experimenting with a “Duet” interface for a few years now, which places most of the options like tabs, search, home, and the options menu at the bottom of the screen instead of the top.
This feature’s not for everyone, but if you want to try it, search for “Chrome Duet” in Chrome flags.
Here’s the strange thing: setting Chrome Duet to “Disabled” actually seems to enable it for us, while setting it to “Enabled” disables it. So if it doesn’t work, try doing the reverse of what you think you should do!
8. Enable Parallel Downloading
There are several features of Chrome Flags that can speed up your browsing, many of which are enabled by default. One such feature, which specifically speeds up your downloads, is “Parallel downloading,” which splits each file you download into three separate jobs, speeding up the whole process.
To enable it in Chrome flags, type
parallel downloading, click “Default” when it appears in the list, then click “Enable.”
9. Enable Smooth Scrolling
As the name suggests, this lets you smoothly scroll through the content. When you scroll in Chrome using your mouse or the arrow keys, there is a little stuttering in the animation. This makes it hard to quickly go through content and easily read what is important at the same time (bad for content skimmers). With this option enabled, smooth scrolling just feels right and professional.
Just search for “Smooth Scrolling” or type chrome://flags/#smooth-scrolling into the address bar to access it directly. Enable it using the drop-down menu below it.
10. Enable Experimental QUIC Protocol
QUIC protocol is a new connection protocol created by Google that is still under development. QUIC is supposed to be a mixture of TCP and UDP protocols that is much faster and more secure at the same time. Usually, when we are on a TCP or UDP connection, it takes multiple trips to the server before a connection is stable (which takes time) and ready to exchange data. QUIC protocol’s main goal is to only make a single trip to create a connection and start the data exchange process, thus increasing the overall browsing and data exchange speed.
In Chrome, you can enable QUIC protocol to start taking advantage of this protocol right now and speed up browsing. Look for the flag “Experimental QUIC protocol” or type chrome://flags/#enable-quic to access it directly. Use the drop-down menu below it to enable it.
From the same Chrome Flags, you can also enable Chrome Offline mode, which allows you to access already-visited websites without the need of an Internet connection. Check out this step-by-step guide on how to enable and use offline mode in Chrome if you are interested.
These are just some of the Chrome flags that will enhance your browsing experience. Although there are dozens of other flags to try, we do not recommend you mess with them unless you know exactly what you are doing.
For more help in the online realm, see our guide on watching videos online with friends in real time. And for something super-fun, see our list of the best hidden Google games you can find on Chrome, Android and elsewhere.