Modern Software Experience

2008-09-15

Chrome Tips & Tricks

Offline Installer

The Google Chrome setup program, but one of those annoying vendor-specific download programs. It downloads the real setup program into a directory under %APPDATA%\Google. You can use that as your offline installer, but you can also download the real installer directly from Google. This link is version-specific.

Symantec Endpoint Protection

Google Chrome fails to start when Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) is installed with Application and Device Control. The log shows that SEP blocked chrome.exe.

Removing SEP solves the problem, but you should never run without anti-virus protection. Symantec has a page with several workarounds.

Checking for Updates

You can check for updates from with Chrome. Just bring up the About box. If there is an update, it will say so.

At least, that is what Google claims. I had killed GoogleUpdate, and it this did not work for me, so it probably relies on GoogleUpdate. I changed firewall settings to check, and Google Chrome does not contact the Internet when you bring up the about box. Google Chrome itself does not include update code.

keyboard shortcuts

Google Chrome supports the same shortcuts as other browsers, including Ctrl+N to open a new tab, Ctrl+T to reopen an accidentally closed tab, but there are a few Chrome-specific shortcuts:

Shift+Esc   Chrome Task Manager

Ctrl+E   Enter search query in Omnibox (auto-inserts the question mark)

Ctrl+Shift+N   New Private Window

Fast Backward and Forward

Hold your right mouse button down over the backward or forward button to get a browse history to choose from.

Open Favourite Sites on Start-up

Google Chrome can open a bunch of sites on start-up. Just go to the Basic Options tab, change the start-up option to Open the following pages and then specify the pages you want to open. You do not need to type the URL; you can just surf to the site and then come to the Basic Option tab and click Use Current.

Easter Egg

Type about:internets (without the quotes but including the s) into the Omnibox. You’ll get to see a lot of tubes. This is a joke on U.S.A. Senator Ted Stevens, who called the Internet a Series of tubes. This is not the first time Google referred to this remark. It also describes Google Gears as the gears that power the tubes.

Now, Chrome is actually displaying a very old Windows NT screensaver, which resides in the sspipes.scr. This screensaver is not installed with Windows Vista. When Google Chrome cannot find the screen saver, it will say that The Tubes are Clogged.

You can replace it with any screen saver you like - just rename its file to sspipes.scr.

Change the number of Omnibox suggestions

Chrome’s Omnibox defaults to showing five suggestions. The initial Chrome release lacks a dialog to change that number, but you can change that number with a command-line switch.

To increase the number of suggestions to twelve, include -omnibox-popup-count=12 on the command line.

undocumented command-line switches

There are many undocumented command-line switches. Undocumented, but not secret. Google Chrome is an open source project. They are not documented in the user-level documentation, but they are documented in the sources.
All the command-line switches are documented in the file chrome_switches.cc. A comment near the start of the file even directs you to base_switches.cc for yet more switches.

record and playback mode

Did you know that Chrome has record and playback modes? That’s one of the things you discover by browsing through the chrome_switches.cc file. The command lines arguments are -record-mode and -playback-mode. Sounds like something you could have some fun with.

turn off autosuggest

There is no hidden option to disable auto-suggest. The option to take back your address bar privacy is on on Chrome’s search engine dialog box. Selection Options from the Wrench menu and choose to Manage your search engines. Near the bottom of the Search Engines dialog box is a checkbox titled Use a suggestion service to help complete searches and URLs typed in the address bar. Uncheck it.

turn of JavaScript

There is no NoScript for Chrome. Turning of JavaScript is a just matter of adding -disable-javascript to the command line. You will not be able to enable for the few sites you trust though.

Chrome View add-on for Firefox

Chrome View is a Chrome add-on for Firefox that works like IE View. It does not work like the popular IE Tab add-on. The IE Tab add-on relies on Internet Explorer’s Trident engine, and presents the results within a Firefox tab. The IE View add-on open the current page in Internet Explorer. The Chrome View add-on is like that, it opens the current page in a Chrome window.

The add-on is still experimental, and the Firefox add-on site requires registration and login for experimental add-ons.

about:

There are many interesting about: menus in Google Chrome. Here is a list. Just one warning: do not type about:%. As soon as you type the percent sign, Chrome crashes. You do not even need to hit return, but you can check out about:crash after starting Chrome again.

Here is the list in alphabetical order.

about:cache
about:crash
about:dns
about:hang
about:histograms
about:memory
about:network
about:plugins
about:shorthang
about:stats
about:version

Change your theme

Google Chrome supports themes. This is not obvious from any menu option, but it is possible to change theme.

Google themes reside in the default.dll file. Replacing one theme with another is a matter of replacing this file. Making a new theme is matter of copying the file and then replacing the images inside with your own. All images are PNG images, so any part of the interface can be transparent.

There already is an unofficial theme creation kit and a web site where you can download Chrome themes. Chrome does not work without that file, so it is easy to mess things up. Unless you are really eager to change your Chrome theme, it is probably best to wait for the version that has official theme-support built-in.

multiple profiles

Chrome lacks a profile manager. Firefox has one, but it aimed at developers, not users; you will not even see it if you start Firefox normally. If you want different profiles for different users, give them different user logons. They should have separate logons anyway.
On a shared account, the right thing to do is to set the browser to delete all history at the end of each session.

Chromium installer

Chrome is the Google-branded release of the open source Chromium project. The project has conspicuous instructions for building Chromium from source and directs you to Chrome for a binary download, but every open source has binary releases. You just need to root around a bit to find until you find the directory with build snapshots (link below).

The Chromium team makes multiple builds each day. As a general rule, you want the latest build, but you do not want a build that failed a test. You want the latest build that passed all the unit tests.

Dirhael wrote a little utility called CNU, for Chromium Nightly Update. It checks first gets the latest revision number, then tells you whether it passed all tests, and lets you download it. This early version of CNU is still a bit confusing, because it refers to builds, but should refer to revision.

Java

The early release of Chrome support JavaScript, but it does not support Java applets. If you try to run a Java game, you get too see a yellow box that says No plug-in available to display this content.

To get Java support in Chrome, you must install an early Beta of the latest Java Runtime Environment (JRE) for Java Standard Edition 6. You need a version That’s more recent than the currently recommended version. Java.com offers and recommends Version 6 Update 7, the beta version you need is Version 6 Update 10. Once you’ve installed it, the official Java Virtual Machine test page will tell you that You are using a newer version of JRE than the current version available on Java.com.

Version 6 Update 10 is a Release Candidate. You should not be running beta versions, but if you are running Chrome already, you are probably past that consideration. If you are, getting Java to work in Chrome is very easy. Just download and install the runtime, then restart Chrome. Visit the test page or play some Java games to verify that it works.

updates

2008-09-16 Chromise Firefox

How to Chromise Firefox: Get Google Chrome Features in Firefox.

2008-09-26 Private Chrome

Want Chrome but worry about privacy? SRWare Iron is Chrome without the privacy issues.

2011-04-23 broken links

The Chromium project broke the links to the Chromium XP build number and status. The links have been updated.

The ChromeSpot forum post about the XChrome Theme Manager seem to have been deleted, the broken link has been removed. Google Chrome 3.0 and later have built-in theme support.

The Google Chrome Help Centre: Developers and Web Masters: Java link has been broken by Google. The broken link has been removed.

The Chromium Nightly Updater has its own page now. The link has been updated.

2011-04-23 Java links

Early in 2010, Sun was acquired by Oracle. Java is on the oracle.com domain now. All Java links have been updated.

2012-07-01 snapshot links

Google keeps changing snapshot directories without redirecting. The links have been removed.

links

offline installer

Symantec Endpoint Protection

themes

Firefox add-ons

Chromium

Java

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