07 Apr, 2011
Getting Started with Google Chrome
Google Chrome is a web browser from Google, designed for speed, simplicity, and security. Chrome is quickly becoming a popular web browser to rival Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer.
Why use Google Chrome?
Google likes to tout speed, simplicity, and security as the main reasons to switch to Chrome from your current web browser. Let’s see if they’re right:
Many different independent speed tests have been done, and Chrome routinely comes out at or near the top of the list. Here’s a test from March 30, 2011 that includes the newly released Firefox 4. Overall, the current version of Google Chrome tied with the current version of Opera as the fastest web browser.
Simplicity is largely subjective, but there are some nice things in Google Chrome that help make it simpler than other browsers. For example: you search and navigate from the same box (no more separate URL and search boxes), you can re-arrange tabs by drag and drop, the settings page is well laid out and easy to understand, and more.
Chrome has built-in malware and phishing protection (as do some of the other browsers), easy auto-updating so that you’re always up-to-date with the latest security updates, and more.
Downloading Google Chrome
You can download an appropriate version of Google Chrome for whatever operating system you’re using (Windows, Mac OS, Linux) here: http://www.google.com/chrome
The page will automatically detect what operating system you’re using, so you’ll always download the appropriate version.
Tips, Tricks and Help
Here are some resources to help you get the most out of Google Chrome.
General Help and Getting Started
- When you first launch Google Chrome, there’s a tab with helpful links and videos for getting started. If you’ve closed this tab and want to get back to that page, here it is: Getting started with Google Chrome.
- For additional help, try the Google Chrome Help Center.
- Here’s a great list of keyboard and mouse shortcuts. (Choose your operating system from the tabs on the left for specific shortcuts for Mac, Windows, or Linux.)
Extensions and Themes
Google Chrome has a ton of extensions (add-ons) and themes that allow you to customize your browser. There are many different types of extensions, but the most useful (in my opinion) are those that integrate with other services you may be using, such as: Evernote, Diigo, Delicious, Amazon, etc.
You can browse or search for extensions here.
Here are some of my favorite extensions:
- RSS Subscription Extension – This extension auto-detects RSS feeds on a page and displays an RSS icon in the OmniBar at the top for easy access to subscribing.
- Diigo Bookmark, Archive, Highlight & Sticky-Note Extension – I used to use Delicious for all my bookmarking, but I’ve since switched to Diigo. This extension is a must if you’re using Diigo. (There’s also a Delicious extension, so if you prefer Delicious just search for it in the extension store.)
- Clip to Evernote Extension – There are several Evernote extensions available, but this is the official one. If you’re using Evernote, you won’t want to be without this extension. (And if you’re not using Evernote, you should definitely check it out!)
- LastPass Extension (or 1Password) – Password managers are a good way to keep yourself safe online, by creating and managing very strong passwords that would otherwise be impossible to remember. LastPass is a free password manager and form filler. (You’ll need to create an account, so visit http://lastpass.com). I use (and prefer) 1Password, which isn’t free, because I find it to be much easier to use. The extension for 1Password is enabled from withing the app itself, just open 1Password–>Preferences then click the “Install Google Chrome Extension” button at the bottom.
- AdBlock Extension – Ads are annoying. This extension will block most ads automatically. You can easily unblock ads on a particular page by clicking the stop sign icon.
- Add to Amazon Wish List Extension – This is a great extension that allows you to add anything to your Amazon Wish List, including items from other websites. It allows you to keep track of your wish list all in one place even though the items come from a variety of websites.
You can also customize Google Chrome by installing themes. Here’s the Themes Gallery.
Tips and Tricks
- Enlarge comment boxes – If you’re on a website that has a comment box (or similar box) that is too small, just grab the bottom right corner of the box and drag to enlarge it.
- Change how Chrome starts up – By default, Chrome opens the home page when it starts, and by default the home page is the “New Tab” page. You can change that it Preferences (Chrome–>Preferences, or click the wrench icon then choose Preferences). You can have Chrome automatically re-open the pages that were open the last time you used Chrome (my personal favorite), or have it open a particular set of pages. You can also specify the home page and activate the Home button on the toolbar.
- Show the list of recently visited pages for a particular tab – Google Chrome shows your overall browsing history in the History menu, but you can see recently visited pages for a particular tab by clicking and holding on the back (or forward) button.
- Re-open a recently closed tab – To quickly re-open a closed tab, press Command+Shift+T (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+T (Windows/Linux), then look towards the bottom of the New Tab window for a list of “Recently closed tabs”.
- Perform calculations in the OmniBox – You can perform simple calculations (math, conversions, etc.) just by typing them in the OmniBox (the combined address bar/search bar just under the tabs).
That should get you started. Do you have any additional tips, tricks, or favorite extensions? Let’s hear about them in the comments section.
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