Hints & Tips: Google Chrome for Mac


Historically I have always been a loyal Safari (s aapl) user. Sure, I’ve flirted with Firefox occasionally, but I always came back to Safari eventually. I’m afraid, however, that I’ve finally found a browser that has led me to leave Safari for good: Google Chrome.

I started using Chromium, the open-sourced branch of the browser, a few months ago and switched to the developer branch of Chrome (s goog) when it got support for extensions. Even though the Beta version of Chrome for the Mac now has extensions support I’m sticking with the developer branch just because I like getting new goodies before other people.

Whatever version of Chrome you’re using on the Mac, you now have access to most of the features that people will want from a browser, so if you’re ready to take the plunge and make Chrome your default browser here, are a few hints and tips from you from someone who’s been using it for a while now.

Set up custom search engines

A feature that’s been available on other browsers for a long time but was always missing from Safari is the ability to set up custom search engines. This allows you to directly search websites, Google Images, Yahoo etc., by using keywords in your search. In Google Chrome you can set this up by right clicking on the address bar and select Edit Search Engines… from the list. If you’ve been using Chrome for a while you’ll notice that several websites have already been populated, this is because Chrome automatically adds any search engines you use to the list.

To make any search engine easily accessible double-click on it and change its keyword to something easy to remember, such as fb for Facebook. From now on you can use that specific search engine by entering the keyword first in the address bar and then entering your search query.

Sync your bookmarks with Safari and the iPhone

If you’re an iPhone user, one of the problems with switching away from Safari is that your new browser doesn’t synchronize bookmarks with your phone. Thankfully the Xmarks extension offers a handy workaround since it will synchronize both your Chrome and Safari bookmarks with the cloud. Thus when you make a change to your bookmarks in Chrome it will automatically synchronize with Safari and by extension the iPhone.

Get 1Password into Chrome

1Password is my go to password manager and not having it in Chrome was a pain. Thankfully the helpful folks over at Agile are working on an alpha as we speak, and even though it’s not perfect yet, it’s good enough for me to use it on a daily basis. To use the extension you’ll need to download the latest beta build of 1Password, which you can do from your update settings in the program. You can get the 1Password alpha extension here. If you’d prefer to avoid alpha software, which is certainly something to consider, there’s also this workaround available until we get a final shipping version.

Keep track of your tabs

If you’re anything like my wife, your browser windows quickly become crowded with tabs. Finding the exact page you’re looking for is difficult when those tabs shrink down to the size of a thimble. Thankfully there are a variety of tab management extensions available for Chrome. I’ve gone through almost all of them, and have found some unstable and some just plain ugly, but I can heartily endorse VerticaTabs, which is both simple and stable.

Get rid of unresponsive tabs

One of Google Chrome’s most interesting features is that each tab is an independent process. With Safari when a tab became completely unresponsive I was often forced to relaunch the entire browser. With Chrome, however, you can use the built-in Task Manager to get rid of a tab, even if clicking on it does nothing.

Simply go to View > Developer > Task Manager to see a list of all processes, including your extensions. Pick the offending tab from the list and press the End Process button. Please note that you may need to be on the developer branch of Google Chrome to use this feature, as I’m not sure it’s been added to the Beta version.

Get on the developer channel of Chrome

Speaking of the developer channel, if you’re willing to put up with some risk and want Google Chrome goodies before the more stable Beta channel gets them, then you can switch to the developer channel. The developer channel is a bit more stable than the Chromium nightly builds, which include all the latest updates to the open-source version of Chrome, but I can’t promise it won’t crash on you.

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