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Chrome Tips & Tricks

Long ago I wrote up a variety of "Chrome Tips" posts that got posted on the official Chrome blog.  Some of these were pretty basic (experienced users would find them obvious), others more advanced.  Since it's been a few years, I thought I'd link/summarize them, plus list a few more tips of things you can do with Chrome.

http://chrome.blogspot.com/2009/07/tip-quick-site-searches-with-omnibox.html - Start typing a site in the omnibox, then hit tab to use that site's search engine directly from the omnibox.  I use this for YouTube, Amazon, etc.
http://chrome.blogspot.com/2009/08/tip-opening-links-in-new-tabs.html - Middle-click or ctrl-click (cmd on Mac) links to open in a new background tab.
http://chrome.blogspot.com/2009/09/tip-even-more-control-over-opening.html - Shift-click links to open in a new window; shift-middle-click (or shift-ctrl/cmd-click) for a new foreground tab; alt-click to download.
http://chrome.blogspot.com/2009/10/tip-dragging-to-tabstrip.html - Drag text (URLs, searches, anything) to the tabstrip to open in a new or existing tab.  For me this is easier than copy+pasting.
http://chrome.blogspot.com/2009/10/tip-of-day-dragging-to-omnibox.html - Dragging text to the omnibox works too.
http://chrome.blogspot.com/2009/11/tip-new-tab-from-omnibox.html [Images broken] - Alt-enter in the omnibox opens your text in a new foreground tab and leaves the existing tab untouched.  I literally do this every time I type in the omnibox.
http://chrome.blogspot.com/2010/01/tip-more-omnibox-power-tools.html - Drag omnibox text or star to the desktop to create a shortcut; copy text (even with embedded newlines) and use Paste And Go/Search in the omnibox context menu to act on it.
http://chrome.blogspot.com/2010/01/tip-managing-tabs.html - Drag tabs around in the tabstrip to reorder, or in and out of the window to create or destroy windows; middle-click tabs to close them.  I always close tabs by middle-clicking since that way I don't have to target the close box.
http://chrome.blogspot.com/2010/02/tip-recovering-closed-tabs.html - Use ctrl/cmd-shift-t to reopen closed tabs/windows, or access them from the tabstrip context menu or the New Tab Page.
http://chrome.blogspot.com/2010/03/tip-always-restoring-tabs.html - Flip a setting to always start the browser with your tabs/windows from last time.
http://chrome.blogspot.com/2010/04/tip-going-undercover.html - Use ctrl/cmd-shift-n to open a new Incognito window, or the context menu on a link to open the link in an incognito window.
http://chrome.blogspot.com/2010/09/tip-just-text-please.html - Ctrl/cmd-shift-v pastes text without formatting.  Helpful when composing in gmail.

Other tips:
* You can use ctrl-clicking or shift-clicking in the tabstrip to select multiple tabs, and then close them all at once or drag them out to different windows.  This works well on Windows, not so well on Mac, don't know about elsewhere.
* On Windows, even pre-Windows 7, you can drag tabs to the edges of the screen or other Chrome windows to get a little drop target that's useful for things like auto-screen-splitting.  Hard to describe.
* You can force text to be treated as a search in the omnibox by prefixing it with '?'.  Useful in rare circumstances.
* Middle-clicking items in the omnibox dropdown will open them in new background tabs without closing the dropdown.
* You can also middle-click things like the back/forward/reload buttons or items in the back/forward button dropdown history.  I sometimes middle-click reload as a cheap "duplicate tab" feature (though if you want, the tab context menu has a "duplicate tab" option too).
* Visit chrome://settings/content and scroll down to the plugins section to get an option for click-to-play plugins.  No more annoying Flash ads with sound!  You can whitelist particular sites by using the icon that appears in the right side of the omnibox every time Chrome blocks a plugin this way (so e.g. I whitelist YouTube).  Note, though, that there are downsides of this -- Vimeo videos have to be clicked multiple times before they'll play, and some sites cryptically break unless whitelisted.  Therefore, I don't suggest doing this to a novice's machine.
* You can quickly zoom in or out with ctrl/cmd-+/- and reset to 100% with ctrl/cmd-0.
* Use ctrl/cmd-1 through 8 to jump to tabs 1-8.  Ctrl/cmd-9 will jump to the last tab no matter how many tabs you have.

What are some tips I missed?  List one I particularly like and I'll add it below here :)

* From devi| dog on the Shack: Form submissions can respect keyboard modifiers, so e.g. shift-enter when submitting a form will submit the form into a new window.  I forget whether we support all the modifiers on both keyboard- and mouse-based submission but I think we do.
* One I forgot to list: ctrl/cmd-shift-d to bookmark all open tabs as a single folder, then later middle/ctrl/cmd-click the folder to reopen all tabs inside as a group.
* From dodob on the Shack: ctrl-shift-m (presumably cmd-shift-m on Mac, but didn't test) opens the profile switcher assuming you have multiple Chrome profiles.
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36 comments
 
Ctrl-click (or middle click) on the back/forward button to open the previous or next page in a new tab. Works farther back in the history if you hold, too. I do this multiple times a day.
 
Yep, that one was in the middle of the bulleted list.

IIRC, we allowed that to be implemented partly because Firefox did it.  It's pretty obscure though.
 
So it is. For something that's not, go to chrome://extensions and scroll to the bottom. Click 'Configure commands' and enter a keyboard shortcut to activate one of your extensions, much as though you'd clicked on its badge by the omnibox.

I use this to get no-mouse access to the Chat for Google roster on ChromeOS, though it does require having a Chrome window open to receive the keyboard event.
 
Ctrl+T for a new tab
Ctrl+W to close one
F6 to go to the omnibox
Alt+cursor keys to go back and forward through history
Space bar to scroll down the page (in blocks equal to screen height)
Cursor keys to scroll up and down the page

Give the mouse a rest.
 
+James Healy Since you mentioned the space bar: Shift+space bar to scroll up by one page.
 
One key combo I'm badly missing is quickly switching focus between the last two tabs. I think a saw a short cut for Windows users once but nothing for Mac people. Extensions I looked for to mitigate the issue never seem to work in all case.
 
Select an url that is not a link and right click it - there's option to "go" there without copy-pasting or dragging to omnibox.
Select any text and right click it - there's option to search for it.
 
Ctrl-L to go to omnibox with URL selected, like F6.  But it doesn't work if a flash object has focus - is there a keystroke to do so even then?

Alt-F6 to switch between system header and compressed header (on Linux, not sure about others).
Amir Ex
 
Nice. Thanks.. 
 
+Timo Reimann you can set up shortcuts to select next tab/previous tab in OSX in preferences/keyboard/keyboard shortcuts/application shortcuts by adding "Select Next Tab" and "Select Previous Tab" entries
 
Ctrl+L takes you straight to the search box.
Long pressing the back button shows history. 
 
+Alex Seeholzer Thanks but next/previous tab is not what I am looking for. Say you have focus on the first tab and then click on the 12th tab. Now, I'd like to quickly switch back and forth between the first and the 12th tab with a single key combo. (The use case could be that I want to compare the two tabs' contents.) Iterating over as many as 11 tabs via the next/previous tab shortcut is not an option here.
 
+Timo Reimann You can drag and drop the tabs within the window to put them next to each other, you can also highlight whole groups of tabs with Ctrl+Click or Shift+Click just as you would files in your file browser and move them to a new window or around other tabs. Then Ctrl+PgUp/Ctrl+PgDn lets you move left and right between tabs, as do a number of other key combos.
 
+Ethan S. While this is a viable option, I think it's far from what a last tab short cut would give.

Moving tabs next to each other inside the same window is tedious when the number of tabs is large (which is actually the case were switching tabs becomes useful). Also, I often layout my tabs logically within a window and wouldn't want to destroy that layout by popping the tabs out into a new window for the sole purpose of being able to switch quickly. (And pay the extra work of getting them back into place of the original window to restore my tab layout once I'm done.)

To me, a last tab shortcut (something that Firefox has, by the way) would be the most convenient thing.
 
Anyone know where to find up to date command line options for latest Chrome version? 
 
+Robert Duić Try if Chrome comes with a help screen on the command line interface; i.e., do "<path to Chrome> --help".
 
+Robert Duić In general command-line options are meant for Chrome developers doing testing and are usually not recommended for end users.

+Timo Reimann We don't have an MRU tab cycle shortcut.  I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss being able to rearrange tabs and move them into their own windows, however.  Especially with tab multiselect, we try to make it easy to use windows as "task groups" for small numbers of tabs that change dynamically.  Working this way takes adjustment but might pay off.
 
And if you install something like Tabs Outliner you can easily jump back and forth with a single or double click depending how you configure it. Also makes grouping tabs into windows by idea WAY easier, plus supports saving those windows for future recall.
 
+Peter Kasting I realize that moving tabs into separate windows by means of tab multi-selection (which, admittedly, I tend to forget about at times) is probably the best I can get, though it'd still involve a bit of manual effort compared to shortcutting and seems somewhat intrusive to my workflow. (I tend to organize tabs into logical groups per window for easier visual recognition and would rather not want to detach tabs from those groups to kind of emulate MRU tab cycling.)

+Ethan S. I do already group tabs into windows and use a tab manager extension to boost productivity, so I recognize the benefit. Tabs Outliner looks pretty powerful but presumably suffers from the same problem as most other extensions that shortcut support is limited. Not having to leave the keyboard really is the key advantage (no pun intended) to me.
 
+Timo Reimann Do they have a Vim-ifying extension for Chrome? That would be the ultimate hands on (pun intended) keyboard extension.
 
+Timo Reimann Yeah, in the end if MRU selection is really useful we don't have something that does that unfortunately.  I did file a bug at one point about Markov model-based tab switching based on some Mozilla folks' musings about the topic but no one has ever investigated.
 
+Peter Kasting Sounds like a pretty interesting concept. The request apparently hasn't received a lot of attention yet, any idea why this is so? (Paraphrasing: How does the Chromium project decide what features/bugs to work on?) A similar request to implement MRU on Ctrl+Tab with a preview strip was WONTFIXed a long while ago though (with no reason mentioned, unfortunately): https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=5569 .

I'd welcome a post on correct bug tracker usage. If it helps replacing a number of "me too/+1" comments by stars it'll be worthwhile alone.
 
It hasn't received a lot of attention because it's vague, possibly a lot of work, and it doesn't seem like it will pay enormous benefits.  Things like crashes and web platform development are always going to be higher priority.

Without looking at the MRU ctrl-tab bug I can tell you it's WONTFIX at least partly because other browsers don't do MRU on ctrl-tab, and partly because we haven't done it for years.  Up and changing the function of a shortcut that lots of users use constantly is pretty much impossible.
 
+Peter Kasting Re: MRU/Ctrl-Tab, you seem about right: There's a ready patch that was apparently cancelled. See https://codereview.chromium.org/10117016/#msg41 if you're interested. Quote: "[...] we're not interested
in replacing the Ctrl+Tab behavior or adding a pref; if we can't find
an alternate shortcut for this, we may have to cancel."

By the way, Opera does MRU on Ctrl-Tab by default; IE comes with a way to toggle a preference setting; and Firefox supports an about:config switch. So IMHO making this a preference (or CLI switch) doesn't seem too far fetched for me.
 
We don't add prefs for this sort of thing, as a rule.  I believe I've discussed Chrome's options philosophy in another post.

I'm actually willing to believe it's unfortunate that ctrl-tab wasn't made MRU when it was first introduced, seeing as alt-tab is MRU.
 
I avoid middle clicking - I find it difficult to press straight down on something that's designed to roll
 
For me, missing MRU tab switching in Chrome is a deal breaker, which  is the only reason I still use Firefox and use Chrome for only developing purposes. There is a ton of users that would love it and I think Google is crazy not to make it possible. Make it config://flags, make it possible to make extension to replace the behavior or whatever, I don't care. Just make it possible somehow. It doesn't need to be the default. One size does not fit all! Thank you Peter for at least addressing this.
 
+Timo Reimann I close the last few tabs (Ctrl+9, Ctrl +W multiple times) until last tab is "target" tab. Then use Ctrl + 4 (5, 3 whatever your "source tab" is) to jump to "source" and Ctrl +9 for "target". Not exactly what you need, but perhaps a viable workaround.
 
+Edwin Metselaar Right, that should work. However, it's another "destructive" approach which I'm trying to avoid. Quite often, I like my tabs to stay in place for future usage. :-)
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