Chrome Flags come and go at a rapid rate. These features have been aptly renamed to “Experiments” by Google because they let you enable, disable and customize various features that are yet to make it into the mainline Chrome release. Quite often, these features never end up making it into the full version of Chrome.
But there are some real gems in Chrome flags which can really enhance your browsing, so we’ve put together a list of the best of them for you here.
Before you use any of these Chrome flags, you first need to know how to access them. Type chrome://flags in the Chrome address bar and hit Enter. You will see a big list of Chrome Flags with a warning that these features are not stable.
You can use Chrome’s “Find” (Ctrl + F) feature to quickly find the features we have listed below.
Intrusive adverts are both the bane of the Internet but also, unfortunately, its life force. By default, Chrome does a so-so job of blocking ads for you (unless they’re Google ads, in which case it’s open season!), but you can enable this flag to bolster Chrome’s ad-blocking defences.
Search for “heavy ad intervention” in Chrome flags and enable it when you find it. This flag will hone in on ads that use too many system resources, automatic ad videos, and more, blocking them from your browser.
Dark mode is the thing that everyone’s after right now, making your screen much less strenuous on the eyes when you use it in the evenings or in a dark environment. You can make window borders darker using your OS settings, but to actually make entire web pages dark, you’ll need to enable this flag.
Find “force dark mode” in Chrome flags, then click the drop-down menu next to it.
You’ll see that you have many different variants of dark mode that you can choose. You can experiment with these different Dark Mode variants to see which works best or just select “Enabled” for the default option.
While Microsoft’s twist on a Chromium-based browser now includes a reader mode clickable from the URL bar, Google Chrome is yet to have it as a default feature. However, a quick tweak in Chrome Flags, and you can add an “Immersive Reader” mode to your omnibox.
Find “reader mode” in Flags, enable it, and an icon will appear in your address bar. Click it to turn that page into immersive reader mode. You can then click the “A” icon at the top of the page to change your reader settings.
Chrome doesn’t rely too much on your GPU to process images and data, but if you have a dedicated GPU, then there are a few things you can do to offload some of the processing onto it, speeding up the browser.
Rasterization is the process Chrome uses to organize website data into the pixels and tangible information you end up seeing on the screen in front of you. It does this by organizing each page into “Tiles,” at which point it effectively paints in the information in each one to add up to the whole you see in front of you.
Enabling “GPU rasterization” gets your GPU to always do the above process instead of your CPU (or processor). This can make browsing faster if your CPU isn’t particularly powerful or, conversely, if your GPU is very powerful.
There are a few things you can do with rasterization through Chrome flags, but one of the best is zero-copy rasterization, where writers raster streams straight to your GPU memory (or VRAM), which can work faster than using your regular RAM (particularly if you have 4GB or less RAM on your PC).
This can be particularly helpful on mobile devices, with the potential to reduce battery usage when you browse the Web.
Slowly being rolled out to the latest Chrome builds, the long-awaited Tab Groups feature isn’t with everyone yet, but if you don’t have it, you can grab it from Chrome Flags.
Once you have it enabled, just right-click the tab you want to add to a group and choose to add it to a new group (at which point you create the group) or an existing one. It makes tab management a whole lot neater, removing that dreaded pile-up of tabs that we’ve all been struggling with for years now.
It’s not yet as robust as certain third-party tab grouping extensions (Toby springs to mind), but it’s a start.
On Android, Google has been experimenting with a “Duet” interface for a few years now, which places most of the options like tabs, search, home, and the options menu at the bottom of the screen instead of the top.
This feature’s not for everyone, but if you want to try it, search for “Chrome Duet” in Chrome flags.
Here’s the strange thing: setting Chrome Duet to “Disabled” actually seems to enable it for us, while setting it to “Enabled” disables it. So if it doesn’t work, try doing the reverse of what you think you should do!
There are several features of Chrome Flags that can speed up your browsing, many of which are enabled by default. One such feature, which specifically speeds up your downloads, is “Parallel downloading,” which splits each file you download into three separate jobs, speeding up the whole process.
To enable it in Chrome flags, type
parallel downloading, click “Default” when it appears in the list, then click “Enable.”
As the name suggests, this lets you smoothly scroll through the content. When you scroll in Chrome using your mouse or the arrow keys, there is a little stuttering in the animation. This makes it hard to quickly go through content and easily read what is important at the same time (bad for content skimmers). With this option enabled, smooth scrolling just feels right and professional.
Just search for “Smooth Scrolling” or type chrome://flags/#smooth-scrolling into the address bar to access it directly. Enable it using the drop-down menu below it.
QUIC protocol is a new connection protocol created by Google that is still under development. QUIC is supposed to be a mixture of TCP and UDP protocols that is much faster and more secure at the same time. Usually, when we are on a TCP or UDP connection, it takes multiple trips to the server before a connection is stable (which takes time) and ready to exchange data. QUIC protocol’s main goal is to only make a single trip to create a connection and start the data exchange process, thus increasing the overall browsing and data exchange speed.
In Chrome, you can enable QUIC protocol to start taking advantage of this protocol right now and speed up browsing. Look for the flag “Experimental QUIC protocol” or type chrome://flags/#enable-quic to access it directly. Use the drop-down menu below it to enable it.
Chrome already blocks intrusive ads that can negatively impact your browsing experience. If you want to improve ad blocking further, you can enable this flag to stop heavy ads from loading. Ads such as video or gif that use too much browser resource will not load when this flag is enabled.
Search term: heavy ad
Like Firefox Reader View, Chrome also has a reader mode, which makes reading online articles easier. When you use this feature on a page, it will only show the main content and images and strip away everything else, including side panel content and ads.
After enabling the flag, you will see a new Page icon in the address bar to click to turn on reader mode.
Search term: reader mode
This flag can speed up your download speed up to 4x. If you have used download manager software before, you must already know how they download faster by creating multiple connections. This flag does the same thing and allows Chrome to create multiple connections to the download source to speed up the download.
Search term: parallel downloading
This flag adds a feature to view more information about a tab just by hovering over it. The information includes the page’s main title and URL. This feature is handy for people who open up dozens of tabs simultaneously, so it becomes difficult to see the tab website name without opening it.
With hover cards, you’ll just have to hover the mouse cursor over a tab to learn which website or page is open.
Search term: hover cards
If you enable the above card, you can also enable this flag to show an image of the tab along with page information. This can only be enabled once the above-mentioned flag is enabled. The image will be of the exact area of the page where you left the tab. This means you can also compare the content of two pages by opening them in two tabs side-by-side.
Search term: hover card images.
This flag forces all the web content to load with a dark theme. This can be a handy feature if you use your PC in a dark room and don’t want to strain your eyes. The text and buttons are turned white or lighter color, and the whole background is made black.
Search term: dark mode
Rasterization is basically the process of creating images or web content pixel-by-pixel to display on your PC. Chrome usually uses your CPU power to complete this process. However, if you have a dedicated GPU in your PC, you can enable this flag to force rasterization to be always completed by GPU instead.
GPU can drop frame generation speed to as low as 5ms/frame from 100ms/frame, so it can significantly boost Chrome speed if you enable this flag.
Search term: GPU rasterization
This flag makes a tiny change that can heavily improve your readability. Usually, when you scroll a webpage, it does small stutters with each scroll tick. After enabling this flag, the page will scroll smoothly, and you’ll be easily able to see the content while fast scrolling. This is perfect when you need to skim through content quickly.
Search term: smooth scrolling
QUIC (Quick UDP Internet connection) is a new connection protocol similar to TCP and UDP protocol, but it is much faster and secure at the same time. It decreases connection time by creating a single connection rather than multiple. Although it’s already being used in Chrome for connection with Google services, you can enable this flag to use it for other sites too.
It’s still experimental; you should disable it if you notice any connection issues.
Search for: quic
#10. Prevent risky downloads
This flag adds an extra layer of security by preventing executable files from being downloaded from insecure sources. Viruses are usually spread as direct executable files, and an insecure source can be compromised to share these files. This flag will prevent such downloads, but of course, it can have many false positives too.
Search term: risky downloads
Another great feature for those who stack dozens of tabs at the same time. Tab search will add a small button at the top, which you can use to search for a specific tab opened. You just need to enter the page title or website name, and the opened tab will show up.
Search term: tab search
#12. Enable lazy image loading
This feature stops all the images on a web page from loading at once. Once you enable, images will only load when you scroll down and reach near them. This helps in loading pages faster and also saves bandwidth as only required images are loaded.
Make sure you choose the enable option that lets you lazy load images without the lazy loading attribute.
Search term: lazy image
If you use the forward and backward buttons in Chrome, this option is excellent for saving data and navigating faster. Enabling this flag will cache full web pages to let you navigate to them again without using an internet connection. The forward/backward navigation will be instant too.
There is an option only to enable caching of the same site pages or every webpage you open.
Search term: back forward cache
If you are looking to save internet data and don’t mind watching videos at standard quality, then enable this flag. This flag will tell media requests that your internet is slow, so videos will only load in SD quality.
Search term: litevideos
From the same Chrome Flags, you can also enable Chrome Offline mode, which allows you to access already-visited websites without the need of an Internet connection.
These are just some of the Chrome flags that will enhance your browsing experience. Although there are dozens of other flags to try, we do not recommend you mess with them unless you know exactly what you are doing.
Thankfully, the flags page shows all the activated flags at the very top. If you notice your Chrome browser acting up, just go to the flags page and undo the changes to fix the issue.
(Source: multiple resources collection, collected from multiple resourses.)