chromeTouch: Free Extension for Touch Tablets

chromeTouch

I have been testing the HP EliteBook 2740p convertible notebook this week, a process that has invoked a wave of nostalgia. I used the predecessor, the 2710p, in my work as a consultant and this current model has been just as good a tool as the earlier one. The 2740p is a full Tablet PC with pen input, and it also has a touchscreen for hand operation. The 12-inch screen works wonderfully in slate mode, as the touchscreen allows scrolling and panning by fingertip. This is especially easy to do with the addition of the free Google Chrome extension, chromeTouch.

The chromeTouch extension turns Chrome into a fully touch-optimized browser, and it’s configurable to fit the way I work. Once installed it puts an icon in the URL bar that shows green when a web page can be operated by touch (most can), and the extension can be toggled off by tapping this icon. I haven’t found a reason to turn it off yet, so I’m not sure why you would need to do that.

One of the abilities you often lose when you use a browser by touch is the ability to highlight text for copy operations. This is not a problem with chromeTouch, as it has an “auto” mode that knows if you are dragging over text on a web page then you must want to highlight it. This works surprisingly well, although it means you have to be careful where you touch a page on the screen when you want to scroll or pan. This highlight mode can be disabled, if all you want to do is move the page around.

An unexpected (and very cool) feature that is enabled in the chromeTouch settings is the “no scrollbar” mode. This option is built on the premise that if you are moving the web page around by touch, then the scrollbars are extra fluff that just take up space on the screen. Selecting the “no scrollbar” mode makes them disappear and frees up that extra bit of screen real estate.

There is a surprising amount of breadth in the chromeTouch extension, and I find it one of the best I have tried with Chrome. It turns the browser into a whole new class of browser that is wonderful to use by touch.

 
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