Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers available for mobile devices and desktop PCs, but what you see is certainly not all you get. If you want a simple browsing experience, Chrome provides that, but you can extend and customize Chrome to suit your own needs. One way to do this is to enable Chrome flags.
These are hidden settings and features that you can enable to change how Chrome works. You don’t need to install anything extra for this, as these flags are accessible from a secret menu using the address bar.
Here are some of the best Chrome flags you can use to improve your browsing experience, as well as an overview of how to enable them.
What are Chrome flags and why should I enable them?
As we mentioned, Chrome has a hidden menu with hundreds of different settings and features that you can enable, disable, or change to change the way Chrome works. These are called Chrome flags – some of these flags are features or settings that are new and experimental, while others are hidden settings.
Instead of hiding these settings completely, Chrome users who know where to look can open them by typing chrome://flags in the address bar. This works on the PC and Mac versions of Chrome, as well as Chrome for mobile.
In most cases, enabling Chrome flags will only customize your Chrome browsing experience, rather than change it completely. Some of the best Chrome flags on offer are designed to enhance this, for example the grouped tabs and smooth page scrolling flags, which we’ll cover later in this article.
You don’t need to use Chrome flags, but if you do, you can take full advantage of some of Chrome’s hidden secrets in the process. You can also use Chrome flags to reduce memory usage as a possible way to prevent Chrome from crashing, for example.
Turn Chrome flags on or off
It’s a simple process to enable or disable Chrome flags, and the process is the same regardless of your version of Chrome or the device you’re using. However, some of the flags you can access may vary.
- To access the Chrome flags menu, type chrome://flags in the address bar. You can also access this menu by typing chrome://chrome-urls and click on the chrome://flags link listed.
- You can also link directly to a flag. This will load the Chrome flags menu and highlight the flag in question. Links for each flag are displayed below each item – to use them, type chrome://flags/#sample-flag in your address bar, replacing #sample flag with your flag.
Your Chrome flags will be applied automatically, but in many cases you’ll need to restart your browser to see them applied.
The Best Chrome Flags to Try
There are hundreds of experimental flags available to try and use on the Chrome flags page, but the best are features that will likely make their way to Chrome’s main browser as main features at some point or another.
However, to get you started, here are ten of the best Chrome flags to try right now. You can find it by searching the #flag tag in the Chrome flags menu.
Smoother pages with the smooth scrolling flag
This flag will help you if you find the page scrolling jerky or unnatural on your device. Enabling this enables smoother page scrolling animation. To enable it, search for #smooth scrolling†
Enable HTTP/3 QUIC support for faster browsing
HTTP/3 is a protocol designed by Google to speed up web browsing. Also called QUIC, the #enable-quic flag will enable this setting, but it only works with sites designed with QUIC in mind.
Hide Chrome extension icons with the extension toolbar flag
If too many Chrome extension icons appear next to your address bar, making the Chrome UI look a bit cluttered, then Google has you covered with the #extensions-toolbar-menu flag. This puts all the icons in one drop-down menu to keep things tidy.
Faster downloads with the parallel download flag
Chrome downloads aren’t always the fastest, but enabling the #enable parallel download flag can help. This forces Chrome to split all pending downloads into smaller chunks that download at the same time, maximizing your connection speed and speeding up downloads.
Check your password security with the password leak detection flag
From one month to the next, sites are hacked and passwords are leaked. The #password-leak-detection flag will warn you if Google-saved passwords end up in a publicly leaked database like HaveIBeenPwned, making it easier to know if your passwords are still safe use or if you need to change it.
Group tabs together with the tab group flag
The more open tabs you have, the harder it is to distinguish one site from another. The habits #tab groups flag allows you to group tabs into different sections so you can keep relevant sites organized and together.
Search your open tabs with the Omnibox Tab Switch Suggestions Flag
You can use the #omnibox-tab-switch-suggestions flag to search through your open tabs using the address bar. This enables a button you can press next to a detected tab name to switch to that tab – perfect if you can’t find the open tab you’re looking for.
Better Network Security with WebRTC IP Anonymization Flag
Giving Chrome pages access to your device’s capabilities (such as your webcam or microphone) may unintentionally reveal more data than you think, including the IP addresses of devices on your local network. The #enable-webrtc-hide-local-ips-with-mdns flag hides all local IP addresses that would otherwise be leaked.
Go before dark with the Force Dark Mode flag
Most operating systems now offer a dark mode that inverts colors to reduce eye strain. Chrome has this feature too, but not every page is willing to work with it. Fortunately, you can force more websites to switch to dark mode using the #enable-force-dark flag.
Browsing better with Google Chrome
The best Chrome flags to enable are designed to customize the Chrome browsing experience, rather than change it completely. However, these flags can be changed: most are experimental and may be removed from Chrome or integrated into Chrome’s main browser at a later date.
However, there are other ways you can improve Chrome. For example, you can install Chrome extensions to extend the functionality even further. What tricks do you use to make Chrome better for you? Let us know in the comments below.