Useful Chrome Command-Line Switches and What to Do with Them

Like with all pieces of software, the default settings in Chrome won’t please everybody. Most people will only need to change settings normally accessible through the menu. Others know about a hidden page, accessible by typing chrome://flags/ in the address bar.

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But you have a third option to change Chrome’s behavior.

These are simply parameters passed to an executable file. You can test them now. Open a command line prompt: press the Windows logo key, type “cmd” and open Command Prompt.

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Change the active directory to Chrome’s installation path.

Now launch the browser in incognito mode.

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In this case, --incognito is the command-line switch. You can test the rest of the commands in the command prompt. When you decide on the set of switches you want to use, you can add these to the Chrome shortcut. One of the next sections will explain this step.

Important: for some switches to take effect you need to close all Chrome windows before launching the executable with the parameters passed to it. Also, some of these command-line switches will work in Mac and Linux too.

--show-fps-counter

This shows a frames-per-second counter, just like those you can see in 3D video games. It only counts frames when the screen is updated (movement, graphical changes).

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--incognito

This launches Chrome in incognito mode which leaves no traces of your browsing history. You can also launch in this mode by right-clicking on the Chrome shortcut from the taskbar.

--no-referrers

Click on this link: https://www.google.ro/search?q=test+refferrer+url. From that page, click on the result that leads to https://www.whatismyreferer.com/. You will see that the website knows where you came from, the referring link. With the switch here, you can stop this behavior.

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You can also chain switches. This means that you can use more than one parameter to pass to the executable. For example, you can use chrome --incognito --no-referrers.

--restore-last-session

This will restore all the tabs you had in Chrome when you last closed it. It’s true that you can set an option in Chrome’s settings as well to get this behavior. But remember, you can create two shortcuts on your desktop, with different purposes. For example, one where you open a single new tab and another where you restore the previous session.

--disable-extensions

As the name suggests, this disables all extensions and is useful for people that don’t use them. It may also be useful for less tech-savvy people as well. Some sites take advantage of people and trick them into installing unwanted and maybe malicious extensions. Imagine adding this to the Chrome shortcut of your grandmother’s PC. Now, no site will be able to add those extensions again and redirect her search traffic to some obscure site.

--disable-notifications

If you’re fed up with the notifications that appear in the top-left side of your browser, you can disable them entirely.

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Note that you shouldn’t use this if you actually activated in-browser notifications for things such as Facebook or Gmail.

--start-maximized

This forces the browser to open its window in maximized mode. It’s useful on versions of Windows where, for some reason, Chrome won’t remember its window settings.

--disable-sync

Disables, in the current session, synchronization of passwords, bookmarks, history and everything else that’s normally synced to your Google account.

--no-experiments

Useful if you messed with the wrong flag in “chrome://flags” and now your browser won’t start anymore. Launch Chrome with this switch, go to the flags page, reset settings to default and then start normally (without the switch).

--mute-audio

Completely disables sound in Chrome.

Right-click on your desktop, and go to “New” and then “Shortcut.”

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This assumes Windows is installed to the C drive. Browse to “This PC -> C -> Program Files (x86) -> Google -> Chrome -> Application.” Select the Chrome executable, click “OK,” and then on “Next.”

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Go to the shortcut created on your desktop. Right-click and select “Properties.” In the “Target” field enter your desired command-line switches. It’s important to add them after the quotes! If you add within the quotes, you will get an error.

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You can consult this website for a comprehensive list of Chrome command-line switches. Note, however, that not all of them are compatible with the Windows version. Some are for mobile, others for Linux, others Chromium specific. Also, software is developed rapidly, and some switches are simply discarded in newer versions. But you can test in command prompt and see if the are what you need.

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