10 Awesome Tips to Use Chrome Browser on Android

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Chrome for Android is fast and easy to use. Even though you can’t run extensions in Chrome’s mobile app, you can tweak a lot of settings to make it work just the way you want.

Today we’ll cover some more advanced, lesser-known tips for using Chrome on Android.

1. Access Experimental Features in Chrome

Access flags in Chrome on Android

Just like on Windows, Mac, and Linux, there are experimental features available in Chrome on Android that are not enabled by default.

These features, known as flags, may not work perfectly and Google might remove them at any time. They could cause problems in Chrome and maybe even in other apps. If that happens, disable any flags you enabled. That should put everything back to normal.

Several of the points in this article involve changing flags, so our first tip shows you how to access them.

  1. Type chrome://flags in the address bar and press Enter.
  2. Use the Search flags box to find the flag you want to change.
  3. Tap the dropdown list and select an option to enable the flag or change the setting. Each flag has a tag you can use to quickly access that flag. For example, you can directly access the Reader Mode triggering flag by typing chrome://flags/#reader-mode-heuristics into the address bar.
  4. Once you change the setting on a flag, tap the Relaunch Now button that displays at the bottom of the screen to finish applying the change. Some flags may require you to restart Chrome more than once to take effect.

2. Compact Tab Switcher

If you’re using an Android tablet, you’ll see tabs at the top of the screen in Chrome. But if you’re using an Android phone, you don’t see the tabs, so you can’t just tap a tab to switch to it.

Normally, on a phone, when you tap the square with a number, you’ll see all your tabs as cards. You must scroll through all the cards to find the tab you want.

If you have a lot of tabs open, it’s hard to find the tab you want using the cards. The Accessibility Tab Switcher flag presents the open tabs as a compact list, rather than cards, making it easier to see your open tabs.

  1. Type chrome://flags/#enable-accessibility-tab-switcher into the address bar and press Enter.
  2. Tap the dropdown list under Accessibility Tab Switcher.
  3. Set it to Enabled.

Now, when you click the tabs button, you’ll see a list of the tab names without a preview of each tab. This makes it much easier to switch tabs and to close them.

Open the Accessibility Tab Switcher in Chrome on Android

3. Move the Address Bar to the Bottom

Android Chrome Home Flag

If you use a large phone, it can be difficult to reach the top of the screen when using your phone one-handed. So wouldn’t it be easier if you could move the address bar to the bottom of the screen?

The Chrome Home flag allows you to do just that. This flag only seems to work on Android phones. We tested it on two tablets and it had no effect.

  1. Type chrome://flags/#enable-chrome-home into the address bar and press Enter.
  2. Tap the dropdown list under Chrome Home.
  3. Select Enabled.
  4. Tap Relaunch Now. You won’t see the change yet because you need to restart Chrome twice for this flag to take effect.
  5. Use the app switcher button on your phone to close Chrome. When you open Chrome again, the address bar will be at the bottom of the screen.
  6. Swipe up on the address bar to access downloads, bookmarks, and history in addition to the address bar.

4. Copy the Current URL

There are a few different ways to copy the URL of the page you’re visiting.

  1. Tap Share on the Chrome menu (three vertical dots), then tap Copy to clipboard on the Share via screen.
  2. Tap on the URL in the address bar to highlight it and long-press on the highlighted URL. Then tap Copy on the popup box.
    Copy URL via Share screen or from Address bar in Chrome on Android
  3. Open the Chrome menu and tap the “i” icon. If you’re viewing a page with HTTPS, tap the lock icon in the address bar. Both methods open the Secure connection dialog box. Long-press on the URL at the top of the dialog box to copy it. You’ll see a message at the bottom of the screen telling you the URL was copied.

5. Add a Website to the Home Screen

We all have certain websites, like MakeUseOf, that we access often. Instead of opening a browser and navigating to the site in the address bar every time you want to visit the site, wouldn’t it be easier to open the site directly from your Home screen?

You can turn any website into an Android app that you can put on your Home screen. But if you want to open a site quickly in your browser, you can pin that site to your Home screen.

  1. Open Chrome and navigate to the web page you want to pin to your Home screen.
  2. Tap the Chrome menu button (three vertical dots).
  3. Choose Add to Home screen.
  4. Change the name of the shortcut, if you want, on the Add to Home screen dialog box
  5. Tap Add.
  6. The icon for the web page displays on your Home screen with the name you gave it. Tap that icon to open Chrome directly to that web page.

6. Add Another Search Engine as the Default

Add a Recently visited search engine in Chrome on Android

In previous versions, Chrome on Android only allowed you to use Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, or AOL as the default search engine. But as of Chrome 57, you can add other search engines just by visiting them. We like using DuckDuckGo rather than Google, so we’re going to add that to our search engine list in Chrome.

DuckDuckGo also adds loads of cool tricks, like Bangs, that Google doesn’t have.

To add DuckDuckGo as your default search engine, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the DuckDuckGo web page in Chrome and perform a search.
  2. Tap the Chrome menu (three vertical dots).
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. Select Search engine.
  5. Tap DuckDuckGo under Recently visited on the Search engine screen.

If you don’t see the new search engine come up in the list, try performing a few more searches first.

7. Save Webpage as PDFs for Offline Reading

You can save webpages for reading offline using Chrome’s Download feature. This saves web pages with full formatting on your phone, so you can access them later even when you’re offline.

If you want to save a web page for reading offline anywhere, you can save the web page as a PDF file. Then you can read it on your phone later or transfer it to another device.

To save a webpage as PDF, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Chrome menu (three vertical dots).
  2. Select Share.
  3. Tap Print on the Share via dialog box.
  4. Tap the Select a printer dropdown list.
  5. Select Save as PDF.
  6. Tap the blue PDF button.
  7. If you don’t have an SD card in your phone, tap the Save button at the bottom of the screen. If you do have an SD card in your phone, the Save button is not available until you select a location. So tap the menu button in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  8. Select the location where you want to save the PDF file.
  9. Tap Save.
    Go to the folder and tap Save in Chrome on Android

The file then saves to the selected location. You can open the PDF file on your phone using the default Google Drive viewer, or one of the many other PDF readers available for Android. And you can transfer the PDF file to another device or to a cloud account.

8. Request the Desktop Version of a Website

Most websites you visit on your phone show you a mobile version of the site. The format and layout are adjusted to look good on a smaller screen.

If you want to view the full desktop version of a web site on yor phone, you can easily switch.

  1. Tap the Chrome menu button (three vertical dots).
  2. Tap the Desktop site check box on the menu.

The full desktop version of the web site displays.

9. Enable the “Do Not Track” Feature

If you’re concerned about your privacy while using Chrome, enable the Do Not Track feature. This feature is off by default, and turning it on asks sites to refrain from tracking your online activities.

  1. Tap the Chrome menu (three vertical dots).
  2. Choose Settings on the menu.
  3. Tap Privacy under Advanced.
  4. On the Privacy screen, tap Do Not Track.
  5. Tap the slider button on the Do Not Track screen so it turns blue and reads On to the left.
    Enable Do Not Track in Chrome on Android

10. Clear Browsing Data Older Than 30 Days

When clearing your browsing history in Chrome on Android, you can choose to clear it for the last hour, 24 hours, 7 days, 4 weeks, or for all time.

But there’s a flag that allows you to add an option to clear browsing data older than 30 days.

  1. Type chrome://flags/#clear-old-browsing-data in the address bar and press Enter.
  2. Tap the dropdown list under Clear older browsing data.
  3. Choose Enabled.
  4. Hit Relaunch Now.
    Enable the Clear older browsing data flag in Chrome on Android
  5. Tap the Chrome menu (three vertical dots).
  6. Pick Settings from the menu.
  7. Tap Privacy under Advanced.
  8. Scroll to the bottom and tap Clear browsing data.
  9. Tap the Time range dropdown list. The Older than 30 days option is now available.
    Option added to clear browsing data older than 30 days in Chrome on Android

Happy Chrome Tweaking!

There are all kinds of ways to tweak Chrome on Android to make your browsing experience more efficient and enjoyable. Try out some of the other flags in Chrome, including some that can make Chrome faster.

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