With Google Chrome dominating over every other web browser on the planet these days, odds are that you’re already using it to read this article. Because of that, you probably don’t need a generalized guide on how to use it.
That said, Chrome is a constantly evolving platform, with a new version coming out about every ten weeks. (In fact, you can check out the upcoming Android dark mode right now in the “Canary” testing version). Because of Google’s rapid-release style of app development, there’s a regular flow of new features and changes that you might not be aware of.
App settings that you should look at first
When you load a website in Chrome, it may ask if it can send you notifications. If you say yes and change your mind later, or you accept by accident, you may be wondering how you can undo that. The Android version of Chrome has some tools for this. Tap the three-dot menu, then Settings, then Notifications, then scroll down to the Sites section.
Next to every site there will be a checkbox. Just tap the checkmark to remove it, or you can tap “Show Notifications” at the top of the Sites section, and then no site will be able to prompt you with this question.
While we’re on the subject of things that sites can do by default, you may want to prevent auto-playing audio as well. To do that, go to the Settings menu again, tap Site Settings, then scroll down and tap Sound. Tap the slider, and all websites in Chrome will now be muted.
You can create a whitelist by tapping “Add Site Exception,” pasting the URL of the site you want to allow, and tapping Add. To remove an exception, tap it in this list, tap the Clear & Reset button, and tap Clear & Reset again to confirm.
Manage all of your bookmarks
It may seem easier to do this with the desktop version of Chrome, but it’s not as tricky as it may look at first glance. For example, you’ll be shown your mobile bookmarks by default, but you can view all of your other folders just by tapping the back arrow in the upper left.
The Android version of Chrome has a few features here that you won’t find on iOS. For example, if you want to select multiple bookmarks, long-press on one, then tap all the others that you want to select. (This screen doesn’t have a scroll bar on the right, so your bookmark list may look alarmingly short at first. But it turns out that you can just scroll up and down to see your whole list.)
Once you’ve selected your bookmarks, you can move them by tapping the icon of the folder with an arrow in it that appears at the top of the screen, or delete them by tapping the trash can. Note that if you decide to delete a bookmark, you will not be asked to confirm, and there won’t be a Deleted Bookmark folder where you can retrieve them. So choose wisely.
Also note that bookmarks can’t be directly shared. Instead, you must load the page in question and tap the share button at the bottom of the screen. (It’s the cluster of three dots that are connected by a single line.)
Manage your curated news feed
For the Android version of Chrome, if you tap the “Home” button in the bottom left corner, this will take you to a Google search widget, a shortlist of frequently accessed websites, and a curated news feed. This news feed can be populated in one of two ways.
(To access this tab on the iOS version, tap the button toward the bottom right that has a number inside of a square with rounded edges and then tap the “+” button.)
If you are not logged into your Google account within Chrome, then the Android version of the feed will just show you generally trending news; in the iOS version, you may have to tap More to get stories to show up. On either platform, logging into your Google account will re-populate this feed with personalized selections based on your browsing history.
Also, if you long-tap one of the items in the news feed, a menu will open up with additional options (though again, sharing is not an option here). The Android version of Chrome gets a Download Link action that will download the web page to your device for offline reading, while the iOS version gets a Read Later option.
In theory, you could load this feed before you leave for work, download all the links, and surf your news without needing an active data connection. But there’s no “Download all” option, so you have to grab all your pages one at a time.
Translate words and sentences into dozens of other languages — with audio
If you have the Google Translate app for Android installed, the Android version of Chrome can translate highlighted text for you. When the text is selected, a submenu opens with its own three-dot menu. Tap those three dots, then tap Translate.
When you do that, a Google Translate widget will open up and take up roughly one-third of the screen. The upper half of the widget shows you the highlighted words and detected language, and the lower half is where you can get your translations.
Tap the name of the language in the lower half to reveal a long list of others that you can translate into, and the widget will show you that word or sentence in that language. Tap the speaker icon, and Google will use its text-to-speech AI to pronounce the words for you.
If you tap that gear icon, things get even more interesting. In particular, you can define the regional accent used for the audio translation. After tapping the gear, tap the back button in the upper left, then Region, then the language you want to translate into, then scroll down the list until you’ve found the regional accent you desire. Tap your choice, and Google Translate will now use that accent for its text-to-speech output.
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Recover accidentally closed tabs
In the desktop version of Chrome, you can restore a closed tab by pressing Ctrl+Shift+T (and for that matter, Firefox also lets you recover a closed window with Ctrl+Shift+N), but there aren’t really keyboard shortcuts for mobile apps, so we have to go about it a different way. Tap the three-dot menu and then tap Recent Tabs.
In the Android version of Chrome, long-tapping an entry on this screen will give you the option to delete all of your recent tab history, if you’re looking for some privacy. The iOS version gives you the option to re-open that tab in Incognito mode, or to copy its URL to your clipboard.
Note that Android’s Remove All function only removes those entries from the list of recent tabs. That browsing history still exists, but you can erase it by tapping Show Full History, then Clear Browsing Data, and then checking the box next to Browsing History, then tapping Clear Data.
Note that the Android version of Chrome lets you choose specific date ranges, and it defaults to the last 7 days of activity. You can change that by tapping the drop-down menu to the right and selecting another range, which can vary from “last hour” to “all time.”