Chrome Settings 101: How to Customize Google Chrome

Google Chrome Browser Customization Feat

A browser is our gateway to the World Wide Web. We use it almost daily to access web pages, making it important to personalize the browser to our needs. Google Chrome, one of the most popular browsers, offers a variety of customization settings. Let’s explore how to customize Google Chrome to suit our needs.

How to Access Chrome Settings

All the customization features are present in the Chrome Settings. To access the settings on the desktop, click on the three-dot icon at the top and select “Settings.”

Google Chrome Open Settings

Similarly, on Android and iPhone, tap on the three-dot icon in Chrome and go to Settings.

Now let’s explore various customization settings.

How to Set Chrome as the Default Browser

On desktop, open Chrome Settings and scroll down until you see the Default browser option. Click on the “Make default” button next to it.

Google Chrome Make Default Browser

To make Chrome the default browser on Android, go to the phone’s settings, then “Apps → Default apps → Browser app.” Choose Chrome from the list. Similarly, on iPhone, navigate to the phone settings, then” Chrome → Default browser app” and select Chrome. Please note that you can set Chrome as the default browser only on iPhones running iOS 14 and above.

How to Customize the Google Chrome Homepage

When you launch Chrome or open a new tab, you will see the Chrome homepage and be greeted by the automatically-generated most visited website shortcuts. You can customize this homepage in several ways. For instance, you can change the background of the page and add your own shortcuts.

To do so on a computer, open a new tab and click on the “Customize this page” icon at the bottom.

Google Chrome Open Home Page Customization

A pop-up window will appear. Under the Background tab, choose a background of your choice from the available list or upload your own. You can even set your own picture as the Chrome background.

Google Chrome Homepage Background

Click on the Shortcuts tab to switch between the automatically generated shortcuts or to add your own. You can even hide the shortcuts completely by enabling the “Hide shortcuts” toggle if you want a clean homepage. If you don’t like the default homepage, you can replace it with new tab page extensions.

Google Chrome Homepage Shortcuts

On Android and iPhone, you cannot change the background on Chrome’s homepage. However, you can edit the shortcuts and hide the Discover feed. To edit a shortcut, touch and hold it and select Remove from the menu. To hide the Discover feed, click on the Hide button (if available) or the Settings toggle present above the feed and select “Turn off.”

Customize the Google Chrome background with a GIF

Yes, you can set a GIF as the homepage background in Google Chrome. For that, select the GIF file instead of the image file when selecting a background image for the homepage.

How to Customize the Chrome Search Engine

It’s not necessary to use Google as the default search engine in Chrome. You can use DuckDuckGo, Bing (Is it better than Google?), etc. Interestingly, you can even use multiple search engines in Chrome.

To change the default search engine on the desktop, open Chrome Settings and scroll down to the Search engine section. Select the search engine of your choice from the drop-down next to the “Search engine used in the address bar” label.

Google Chrome Change Search Engine

Click on “Manage search engines” to find the keywords for multiple search engines. Enter the keyword in the address bar followed by the Tab or Space key to activate the search engine. You can even add your own search engine by clicking on the “Add” button present next to the Other search engines section.

Google Chrome Search Engine Use Multiple

On mobile, go to the Chrome Settings, tap on “Search engine,” and select the new default search engine.

How to Show or Hide the Home Button and Bookmarks Bar

If you like to keep Chrome clean, you can hide extra buttons like the Home button and Bookmarks bar. To do so, open Chrome Settings and go to the Appearance section. Turn off the toggles next to “Show home button” and “Show bookmarks bar” to disable them.

Google Chrome Show Bookmarks Bar And Home Button

If you decide to keep the Home button active, you can either open a new tab page from it or add a custom page of your choice. Just select the required option under the “Show home button” setting.

How to Customize What Happens When Chrome Starts Up

When Chrome opens after it starts up, you can choose which tabs should show up. You can have the new tab page open, open all the previous tabs, or open a specific set of pages. To select the option of your choice, open Chrome Settings and go to the On startup section. Choose the desired option from the available list.

Google Chrome Startup Page

How to Turn Off Auto Fill

Chrome saves the addresses entered on any site so that it will auto-fill the next time. However, the same setting gets annoying when Chrome auto-fills the addresses if you accidentally tap on them. If you don’t like this behavior, you can disable the save and auto-fill address feature. For that, open Chrome Settings and go to “Addresses and more” under the Autofill section.

Google Chrome Disable Autofill

Turn off the toggle next to Save and fill addresses. You can also add or remove the addresses manually on this screen. Similarly, you can disable Chrome asking you to save the password.

Google Chrome Disable Autofill Address

On Android and iPhone, go to “Chrome Settings → Addresses and more.” Turn off the toggle for “Save and fill addresses.”

How to Stop Certain Sites from Tracking You

If you don’t like targeted ads and want to stop sites from tracking you, Chrome lets you disable cookies. However, Chrome recommends that you not disable all the cookies. You can either block third-party cookies or, an even better idea, is to to clear cookies when you close Chrome.

On desktop, inside the Chrome Settings, click on “Cookies and other site data.” Enable the required option.

Google Chrome Cookies

How to Customize Individual Site Settings in Chrome

Chrome puts all the power in your hands by letting you customize the permission and content settings for each site individually. You can grant or revoke access to the microphone, camera, location, notifications, etc. for each site apart from the global settings.

For that, open Chrome Settings and click on “Site settings” under the Privacy and security section. Scroll down and click on the required setting to customize it.

Google Chrome Site Settings

For instance, if you click on Location, first, you will get the global setting to turn it off or on. If you scroll down, you will see the sites that you have allowed or blocked from accessing your location. Similarly, you can check and customize other settings.

Google Chrome Site Settings Customize

Tip: click on the lock icon in the address bar to customize the individual site settings quickly.

How to Enable Caret Browsing in Chrome

Caret browsing is an accessibility feature that lets you navigate and select text using keyboard keys instead of your mouse. So if your mouse is throwing tantrums, you can enable Caret browsing.

To do so, simply press the F7 key on your keyboard, and that should activate Caret browsing. Use the same key to disable it. Alternatively, open Chrome Settings and enable the toggle next to “Navigate pages with a text cursor” under the Accessibility section.

Google Chrome Caret Browsing

How to Customize Live Captions

Google Chrome offers a really useful feature in the form of live captions. When enabled, you will see live captions for English audio and video. What’s interesting is that you can customize how the live captions look. In Chrome Settings, go to the Accessibility section and enable the toggle for “Live caption, then click on “Caption preferences” to customize the caption size and style.

Google Chrome Customize Live Caption

How to Customize Chrome Appearance

What’s the sense of customization if you cannot change the appearance of your browser? You can change the Chrome avatar, colors, and theme. Open Chrome Settings on the desktop and click on “Customize profile.” Here, you can rename your profile, pick a color, and change the profile icon.

Google Chrome Customize Profile

Scroll down in the Chrome Settings to install Chrome themes. Read on to find out the best Chrome themes and how to create your own Chrome theme.

You can even use Chrome in dark mode. To do so on PC and iPhone, simply enable the system-wide dark mode of your device. On Android, go to “Chrome Settings → Theme” and choose “Dark.”

How to change the language in Google Chrome

Open Chrome Settings and click on Language. Here you can add or remove languages. You can even change the order of languages as needed.

How to reset the customization settings in Chrome

You can either manually revert each setting or simply reset Chrome Settings. That will reset all of the Chrome customization settings to their default values.

Go to Chrome Settings and click on “Restore settings to their original defaults.”

Make Chrome Your Own

If multiple people use the same Chrome browser on your computer, each user can customize it per their needs by creating a new user profile. Apart from the above-mentioned customization settings, you can also use Chrome flags and extensions to enhance the capabilities of your browser. For instance, you can install productivity extensions, helpful tools for students, extensions to annotate text on the Web, and much more. You can even pin the most used extensions to the toolbar.

Mehvish Mushtaq
Mehvish Mushtaq

Mehvish is a tech lover from Kashmir. With a degree in computer engineering, she's always been happy to help anyone who finds technology challenging. She's been writing about technology for over six years, and her favorite topics include how-to guides, explainers, tips and tricks for Android, iOS/iPadOS, Windows, social media, and web apps.

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