Another look under Chrome’s bonnet

Chrome logoIn a recent blog post we looked at what web pages are loaded and displayed when you open the Chrome browser. There are some other useful settings that can be changed quite simply, a few of which are discussed below. Remember, that to access “Settings” in Chrome, left-click on the three vertical dots at the top right of the Chrome window and then left-click on the item in the list called “Settings” (natch).

Show the “Home” button

If you have the home button displayed (on the same line as the address bar), then a simple click on it will immediately take you to – where else – your home page. To turn the display on just scroll down the Settings window until you meet the heading “Appearance”, then just slide the switch next to “Show Home Button” to the right.

Show bookmarks bar

Almost directly beneath the above setting is a similar switch that displays or hides the “Bookmarks bar”. When displayed, this is a row of shortcuts (bookmarks) that appear on a line below the address line near the top of the window. This is particularly useful for your most frequently accessed web pages. To add a web page to the bookmarks bar, access the web page, click on the star to the right of the web address, click the triangle to the right of “Folder” and select “bookmarks bar” as the place to display the bookmark. Note that you can change the name of the shortcut – in particular, you can make it shorter so as to allow space for more bookmarks on the bar. You can even remove the name of the shortcut entirely and just display the “favicon” (the icon for that particular web page).

Add bookmark to Chrome

Click on the blue star next to the address, change the name if desired, ensure the folder is set to “Bookmarks bar” and click on “Done”.

Page Zoom

You can increase the initial size of web page contents as they are displayed on your screen by changing the setting against “Page zoom” that is also in the Appearance section of Chrome settings. Note that you can override this at any time by depressing the “Ctrl” key (the control key) and, while the control key is down, tapping on either the “+” or “-” key. If you increase the zoom then it is possible that you will no longer be able to see the full width of the web page. In this case, there will be a scroll bar at the bottom of the window that you can move to display the rest of the width of the window.

Downloads

There are plenty of other settings you can play with in Chrome, including several for which you need to scroll to the bottom of the settings window and then click on “advanced”. Amongst other things, this will reveal the “Downloads” section. This tells you where any downloaded files are currently being saved. You can change this to any other folder by clicking on “change”, finding the desired folder in the “Explorer” window that opens, and then clicking on the “Select folder” button.

These are directions to change settings specifically in Chrome, but there are similar settings in other browsers that offer the same options.

There’s just one more thing I’d like to take the opportunity to point out, and that is the option near the top of the list of settings, under the heading of “You and Google”, called “Sync and Google services”. If (like me) you are of the opinion that Google probably already knows more about you than is healthy, then I recommend ensuring that all four items under the heading “Other Google services” are switched off – ie the circle is to the left of the “switch” and the switch is grey and not blue.

Sync and Google services

Personally, I don’t believe in giving Google any more information than I need to

Do you have different tasks that need different sets of web pages to be opened regularly?

chrome logo - 2An example might be that you buy items of a particular type online from the same few sources – eg John Lewis, Amazon, Argos, Currys. Quite separately from these websites, you may have other tasks that require a completely different set of websites to be open – eg, you might start the day by checking the weather, local news, and local traffic reports.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could open and close these sets of websites with single commands? You can, and it’s easy.

  • Start by opening all the websites (in different tabs) that you want to put together as a single group
  • Close any open web pages that you don’t want to be in the group
  • Click on the three dots at the top right of the Chrome window
  • Click on “Bookmarks”
  • Click on “Bookmark all tabs”
  • Give the new folder a name
  • Click on a folder (if any) within which this group of tabs will be saved
  • Click on “Save”
Chrome - bookmark all tabs

Click on the three dots, then on “Bookmarks”, and then on “Bookmark all tabs”

To open all of the web pages in a group at once:

  • Click on the three dots at the top right of the screen
  • Click on “Bookmarks”
  • Find the folder containing the saved tabs
  • Right-click on the folder
  • Click on “Open all (x)”, where “x” is the number of pages in the saved group

In Chrome, you can’t close ALL tabs at once, but you can close the current tab, all tabs except the current tab, or all tabs to the right of the current tab. Just right-click on the name of a tab and choose the option you need from the bottom of the context menu that has just opened.

Alternatively, there is an extension from the Chrome Web Store called “Close All Tabs” that places a white cross in a red circle to the right of the address bar. Click on this to close all tabs before opening a different group.

By the way, you can change Chrome’s behaviour so that it opens with either a predefined set of tabs or the tabs that were open at the time the browser was last closed. To define your choice:

  • Click on the three dots (top right)
  • Click on “Settings”
  • Scroll down until you find the settings headed “On start-up”
  • Make your choice, entering the addresses of the websites if applicable

The Bookmarks Bar

Chrome bookmarks bar

The line beginning “Clear data” is the Chrome bookmarks bar

The “Bookmarks bar” is a very useful place to put your most often-used bookmarks. If you can’t see the bookmarks bar (which will be directly below the address bar when it is visible):

  • Click on the three dots (top right)
  • Click on “Bookmarks”
  • Click on “Show bookmarks bar”

Note that you can place folders of bookmarks (such as the folders we created above) on the bookmarks bar as well as individual bookmarks. You can then open all items in a folder by right-clicking as explained above.

It’s also worth noting that if you right-click on any item on the bookmarks bar and then left-click on “edit”, you can shorten the name of the item so as to get more items visible on the bookmarks bar. You can even remove the name of an item altogether so that it is only identified by its icon. I have done this in the illustration, with my “DL” icon representing a shortcut to my own website.

If you have placed more items on the bookmarks bar than there is room for, there will be two chevrons directly beneath the three dots (top right of window). Clicking on the chevrons will reveal the items that don’t fit on the bar.

© 2011-2019 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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