How to disable hardware acceleration Chrome

Chrome, and browsers in general, are able to interact with and use other peripherals connected to your system. The mouse and keyboard are obvious examples but a browser can also access your mic, speakers, and webcam if you allow it to. Some browsers also support hardware acceleration which allows them to offload processing to specialized hardware e.g., if you’re doing something that’s graphics-intensive0, Chrome can use the GPU instead of being limited to the onboard graphics card.

A browser that is able to use hardware acceleration is able to run better and support more powerful web apps. That said, a browser’s primary purpose is to load websites, and sometimes, its ability to use hardware acceleration gets in the way of loading a website properly e.g., some users report getting a blank screen when playing YouTube videos in Chrome.

Disable hardware acceleration Chrome

Chrome has a built-in switch that allows users to disable hardware acceleration.

  1. Open Chrome.
  2. Click the more options (three dots) button at the top right.
  3. Select Settings from the menu.
  4. Click ‘Advanced’ on the settings screen.
  5. Scroll down to the System section.
  6. Turn the ‘Use hardware acceleration when available’ switch off.
  7. Restart the browser.

Other Chromium-based browsers

Other Chromium-based browsers support hardware acceleration as well. Like Chrome, you can disable hardware acceleration in them.

  1. Open the settings page/panel for the browser.
  2. Go to Advanced settings.
  3. Scroll down to the System section.
  4. Look for, and turn off the ‘Use hardware acceleration when available’ switch.
  5. Restart the browser.

Disable hardware acceleration in other apps

Plenty of other apps support hardware acceleration. These are normally apps that may need to use additional processing power e.g. animation apps, video editors, powerful image editors, etc. Not all apps can or have support for hardware acceleration but those that do have support for it will also have an option to turn it off. Look in the app’s settings and you will find an option to turn it off.

Conclusion

Hardware acceleration allows apps to perform better. Think of games that, by default, will always utilize the GPU to render the game. With other apps, hardware acceleration allows them to make use of the GPU (or the sound card), whenever they need to. These apps do run into trouble though when they try to offload the processing. Sometimes, the app has a bug, sometimes the OS doesn’t play nice, and sometimes, just the offloading process is too much and the app may crash. If you have trouble getting it to work, you might be better off without it. The app may take longer to complete a task, but it will be able to do so without crashing.

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How to disable automatic updates in Chrome on Windows 10

Chrome updates automatically but not invisibly. A new update will normally download in the background but it will install when you quit and open the browser again. Once a new update to the browser has been downloaded, you can’t avoid upgrading to it unless you’re willing to leave Chrome open on your desktop forever.

Chrome updates

Chrome is an exceptionally stable browser and its updates rarely, if ever, break anything. The updates will add and/or remove certain features to the browser. If you need to stick to a particular version of Chrome so you can continue to use a feature, you will have to keep the browser from updating.

Disable automatic updates in Chrome

There are two ways to disable automatic updates in Chrome. You can disable the update service, or you can disable or delete the task that periodically checks for these updates.

1. Disable Google Updates service

Chrome updates only when a service called Google Updates is run. If you turn the service off, the browser will not be able to check for and download updates.

  1. Tap the Win+R keyboard shortcut to open the Run box.
  2. In the Run box, enter “services.msc” and tap Enter.
  3. In the list of services, look for and select the Google Update Service.
  4. Right-click it, and select Properties from the context menu.
  5. On the Properties window, go to the General tab.
  6. Open the Startup type dropdown. 
  7. Select either the Manual or the Disable option.
  8. Click Apply.
  9. Repeat for all Google Update services.

2. Disable Google Update task

Disabling the Google Update service may not work if there is a scheduled task that will run the service. In this case, you will have to disable the task that is triggering it.

  1. Open Task Scheduler.
  2. Select Task Scheduler Library in the column on the left.
  3. Look for the GoogleUpdate task.
  4. Right-click it and select Disable.

Updating Chrome

With automatic updates off, you will have to manually update Chrome. To do that, follow these steps;

  1. Open Chrome.
  2. Click the more options button at the top right and go to Help>About Google Chrome.
  3. A new tab will open and Chrome will check for updates. If a new update is available, it will be downloaded.
  4. You will have to relaunch Chrome to apply the update.

Problem updating Chrome? Check out this solution.

Conclusion

While it is possible to disable automatic updates for Chrome, we don’t advise you do it unless you have a very good reason. This is because new browser updates often have security fixes and if you are running an older/outdated version of Chrome, you may be putting yourself at great risk.

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How to enable Windows spell checker in Chrome

Spell check as a feature is available on most desktop and mobile platforms. In some cases, apps that are multi-purpose and exceptionally popular will add their own spell checker. Chrome has one and it’s pretty good considering it uses the same AI that is used on Android.

Chrome runs on all three major desktop operating systems; Windows, macOS, and Linux and its spell checker works just as well across all three. That said, if you’re not satisfied with Chrome’s built-in spell checker, you can use the Windows spell checker in Chrome instead. You can also use both the Windows spell checker and Chrome’s own spell checker.

Windows spell checker in Chrome

Make sure you’re running Chrome 77 or later.

  1. Open Chrome and enter the following in the URL bar. Tap Enter.
chrome://flags/
  1. On the Chrome flags page, enter ‘Use the Windows OS spell checker’ in the search bar, and tap Enter.
  2. Open the dropdown next to the flag, and select Enabled.
  3. Relaunch Chrome.
  4. Chrome will now use the Windows spell checker.
  5. Open the Settings app.
  6. Go to Devices>Typing.
  7. Turn on ‘Autocorrect misspelled words as I type’, and turn on ‘Highlight misspelled words’.

Hybrid spell checker in Chrome

The Windows spell checker may not always be the best. In some cases, it may work well for some languages but as well for others. In that case, you can have Chrome use the Windows spell checker when it can but revert to the Chrome spell checer tool if the Windows tool isn’t available for a language.

  1. Make sure you’ve already enabled the Windows spell checker in Chrome by following the steps in the previous section.
  2. Open Chrome and in the URL bar, enter the following and tap Enter.
chrome://flags/
  1. Look for a flag called Use hybrid spell checking on Windows. Open the dropdown next to it, and select Enabled.
  2. Relaunch Chrome.
  3. The hybrid spell checker is now enabled in Chrome.

How hybrid spell check works

Hybrid spell check will not let you jump between the Windows spell checker and the Hunspell engine that Chrome uses. The Chrome engine will only kick in if you’re using a language that the Windows spell checker tool doesn’t support. You cannot switch spell checking tools on the fly but enabling or disabling the Windows spell checker is easy.

Conclusion

The Chrome spell check tool isn’t bad but if you write a lot of documents on your desktop and the Windows spell checker tool comes in handy, then it already knows quite a bit about your typing habits. Enabling it in Chrome can give you a better experience simply because it knows you better.

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How to view the Chrome cache on Windows 10

Chrome used to have two dedicated URLs that you could visit from inside Chrome to view its cache. Those two URLs have been removed leaving users with no easy way to view the Chrome cache. The URLs were removed due to a bug and they don’t seem likely to make a comeback. If you want to view the Chrome cache in a simple format, you will need a third-party app called ChromeCacheView.

Chrome cache on Windows 10

Download and run ChromeCacheView. Before you can use it though, you need to know where your Chrome profile folder is. You have to select the Cache folder inside the profile folder in order to view the cache. The cache is, of course, kept separate for each profile.

Find Chrome profile folder

Open Chrome in the profile that you want to view the cache for. In the URL bar, enter the following.

chrome://version/

Look for the ‘Profile path’ field and copy the path to your clipboard.

View Chrome cache

Run ChromeCacheView. Go to File>Select cache folder.

In the window that opens, enter the path that you copied. The path that the app detects automatically doesn’t always work, and neither does clicking the ‘Chrome Cache Folder’ button.

After you select the cache folder, you can add filters to the items that will be shown from the cache. For example, you can limit it to show files from the last 10 or 20 days. Likewise, you can limit the files that are shown to a certain size, or to a certain date and time. Click OK, and the files will be loaded.

Open Chrome cache files

Chrome cache files can all be accessed from File Explorer and as such, you can open them like any other file provided you have the right app to view them. The ChromeCacheView tool makes it easier to find and open them.

To open a file, right-click it in the app and select the ‘Open Selected Cache File’ option from the context menu.

If the file is a type that you haven’t set a default app for, you will see the Windows 10 app picker menu that allows you to select a recommended app or pick one installed on your system.

The key to accessing the Chrome cache is knowing where the cache folder is. ChromeCacheView allows you to filter the files so that it is easier for you to find one e.g., a file cached from a particular website or a file cached on a particular date.

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How to highlight the active tab in Chrome

Chrome lets you customize the color of its UI. You can do so freely and it’s a quick way to create a Chrome theme. The customization tool in Chrome allows you to pick one color, and then shades of it are used for the tabs’ bar. It looks good aesthetically but often the active tab is hard to distinguish from the ones in the background tab.

If you’re not particularly attached to a theme, and just want to highlight the active tab in Chrome so that it is much easier to identify, you should use the Black & White theme.

Highlight active tab

The Black & White theme is a Chrome theme (i.e. Google theme) and it is, for the most part, a dark theme featuring black on the tabs’ bar and on the new tab page. For the active tab, it features a nice white color which is easy to distinguish from the black of the background tabs.

Install the Black & White theme from the Chrome Web store. It will modify the look of the browser as soon as it is installed.

This is just one of many themes that you can install to highlight the active tab in Chrome. You can go through the other themes available in the Chrome Web store, some of which are high contrast themes and created for this very purpose.

If the themes that are available don’t do the job, or you’re still attached to the particular color your current theme uses, you can always create your own theme. We mentioned earlier that they are fairly easy to create.

You can create a theme that uses the same color as your current one but have it use either a darker or lighter color for the active tab. The theme won’t install the same way as a theme from the Chrome Web store but it will work the same way.

Changing themes is fairly easy in Chrome but you can only have one theme installed at a time which means if you like to have different themes for morning and evening, you’re going to have to install and uninstall them every day. Keep this in mind when you’re making the theme so that it isn’t too bright to use at night. One trick you can use is, instead of highlighting a tab with a different color, you can highlight the color that the title of the tab is displayed in. The color can be set so that it contrasts against the color of the tab.

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