I don’t think I’m jumping the gun in saying that Google Chrome is the single app that you spend the most time with on your Android device. Even if you have an app for all your favorite sites, and a news aggregator that conveniently organizes all the stuff you really want to know about, Chrome is pretty much unavoidable.
But how well do you really know Chrome? And are you aware that it offers much of the same versatility as the desktop version? Here are five tips and tricks that will make your time with Chrome a whole lot more enjoyable and efficient.
1. Prevent Text from Moving Around as a Page Loads
It’s happened to all of us. A page is still loading but the text you want has already appeared so you start reading, or try to tap a link. But just before you tap, the text or link has been replaced with something else on the screen, and you end up tapping the wrong thing.
This is because the page is still loading. To prevent it from jumping around like that, you should enable scroll anchoring in Chrome flags.
In the Chrome omnibox/search bar, type
chrome://flags/#enable-scroll-anchoring, then click the dropdown beneath it and click “Enabled”.
2. Cut Down on Data Usage
Chrome on Android has had features that cut down on data usage for some time, but they’ve recently received an update that makes them even more effective. You can enable the Data Saver feature by clicking the three-dotted menu icon at the top right of Chrome -> Settings -> Data Saver.
Once it’s on, Data Saver will do a number of things, such as compressing web pages, converting images to the WebP format, and compressing videos. Pages will look a bit different when you load them too, and I for one find the more minimal look of sites more easy on the eyes.
To top it all off, you can monitor how much data you save by going to Data Saver in your Chrome settings.
3. Open Recent Tabs from Other Devices
A quickie but a goodie. It’s easy to forget that Chrome syncs all your browsing data, bookmarks and tabs between different devices (so long as you’re signed into your Google account in Chrome on those devices).
If you’re reading something on your PC, but then have to leave the house and want to continue reading on your phone, then all you need to do is go to your Chrome menu, then tap “Recent tabs” to see all your most recently visited pages across all your devices. Happy reading!
4. Save Content for Offline Reading
There are plenty of third-party apps that let you pluck articles from the internet then read them even when you don’t have a connection, but I like to keep things in-house wherever possible, and there’s a perfectly good Chrome flag that does the job.
chrome://flags/#offline-bookmarks, then enable the “offline bookmarks” flag.
Now every page you bookmark in Chrome on your device from now on will be saved for offline reading as well.
5. Enter Information from Chrome into Other Apps
if you’ve found a product that you want to check the price of on eBay, or want to read up about some subject that’s been making the headlines through your favourite news app, then you’re just a couple of tap-and-hold gestures away.
Say you’re reading up about – I don’t know – Tom Jones, and you want to see whether he’s been in the headlines recently or want to listen to him on YouTube. Tap-and-hold over his name on the site that you’re on, then drag the blue bar so his name is fully highlighted.
Next, tap the menu icon next to the Copy, Share etc. options that show up, then tap “Assist”.
This will let you immediately look him up on a number of recommended apps, such as YouTube, Wikipedia, Twitter, or any news apps that you have. So if I tap “Guardian”, it will take me to The Guardian app and show all the articles written about the great Welshman.
We don’t normally think of Android apps as being as versatile as their counterparts on the PC, but Chrome is one of the exceptions. There are hundreds of little secrets, flags and tricks you can do in the Android browser. These are my personal favourites. What are yours?