How to fix trailing underscores at the end of URLs in Chrome

Chrome lets you add a custom search engine to it which is basically any website that you search frequently. It happens automatically if you search a particular website often enough. Once added, all you have to do is type the first few letters of the URL, tap the Tab key and then enter the search term. When you tap Enter again, the search term will be sent to the website. It’s quick but in some rare cases, trailing underscores are added at the end of the URLs in Chrome. Here’s how to fix it.

Trailing underscores at the end of URLs

This might take a few minutes to fix. Open Chrome and click the more options button at the top right. From the menu, select Settings. On the Settings screen, look for the ‘Search engine’ section and click the ‘Manage search engines’ option.

You’re going to see the problematic search engines show up and it will appear quite a few times in the list of ‘Other search engines’.

Click the more button next to every single instance of the URL with the underscores and from the menu, select the ‘Remove from list’ option. Once you’ve done that, click inside the URL bar and type the URL of the website. The same problematic URLs will show up. Highlight them with your cursor and tap Shift+Delete. Repeat this until the URLs stop appearing and only the plain, simple URL with nothing extra appended to the end shows up. Leave that one.

This should fix the the problem. If you have this same problem with other URLs, you will have to repeat the same process for them as well.

Why this happens is anyone’s guess. If you have your Chrome data synced to other systems, it is possible that these URLs will come back because they’ll be synced to other Chrome instances. Search engines are synced if you choose to sync ‘settings’ in the sync options. You can pause syncing on your system, and repeat this on the other ones until not a single one has these incorrect URLs in the history and in the other search engines’ list.

Deleting the other search engines is a simple enough thing but if you’re wondering what the Shift+Delete keyboard shortcut does, it removes the URL from your browsing history and frequently accessed URLs. It’s a useful shortcut to know if you want to remove a search term that keeps popping up or that you don’t want popping up at the wrong time.

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How to access Chrome bookmarks from a side panel

Chrome’s bookmarks live in a bar just below the URL bar. You can choose to show or hide it with the Ctrl+Shift+B keyboard shortcut. The bookmarks bar cannot show all bookmarks and they have to be tucked into a menu where you can scroll through them. It’s either that, or you can open the Bookmarks’ Manager and access them from there. Other browsers do it a bit differently; they add the bookmarks as a side panel. If you’d like to get a Chrome bookmarks side panel, you can get it with an extension called Bookmark Sidebar.

Chrome bookmarks side panel

Install Bookmark Sidebar from the Chrome Web Store. Once installed, it will walk you through a brief set up which you don’t want to ignore. The last step lets you choose how the bookmarks side panel will appear. You can have it appear when you mouse over the selected side of your browser, when you click the extension’s icon, when you right-click your browser’s side, or when you left-click it.

After that, your selected action will bring up the bookmarks side panel. You’ll find that it is very smooth to open, quick to dismiss, and easy to navigate through.

As for its appearance, if you go to the extension’s options, you will find there is tons to customize with respect to the appearance. You can also have your bookmarks appear on the new tab page however, you will need to enable this from the extension’s options.

The bookmarks panel that Bookmark Sidebar adds lets you rearrange bookmarks and move folders up/down. It also has a search bar that you can use to search the bookmarks, and a button that lets you sort them alphabetically, most frequently used, and recently used. It can also be navigated with just your keyboard.

It’s hard to imagine Google adding anything better than what Bookmark Sidebar does. It looks good, is more customizable than most aspects of Chrome, and has practical features for managing bookmarks.

Bookmark Sidebar also has a premium version which gives you access to experimental features and more customization options. With the premium version, you can change the width of the panel, you can check your bookmarks for broken links which is great if you’re looking to clean them up, and even create your own Stylesheet. The premium version is available at three different price points, all of which give you the same features. The different price points are basically just choices to make it more affordable.

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How to play/pause background Chrome windows

Controlling media, especially on Windows 10, is still a bit of a clumsy process. If you have the right drivers installed, and you’re using a compatible app, you can play/pause media from the dedicated keys or the Function keys on your keyboard. Unfortunately, not all apps support the media keys with VLC player being the glaring omission. It’s one of the most popular media players across multiple platforms but you cannot play/pause it with the play/pause keys on your keyboard. If you watch media in Chrome, and plenty of people do, you might do it in a separate window (or tab) while you work in a different one. If you need to quickly play/pause background Chrome windows without having to select them first, you should give the Streamkeys extension a try.

Streamkeys is a popular Chrome extension that fills in for keyboard functionality the browser doesn’t have out-of-the-box. It’s built specifically for controlling media and works with websites that can play it. It will not allow you control websites that do not play media. If you watch Netflix in Chrome, this is definitely an extension to try out.

Play/pause background windows – Chrome

Install Streamkeys and it ought to work out of the box. It is pre-configured to work with a lot of websites that play media. If you go to the Streamkeys’ options/settings, you can see which websites it supports. If the website you tend to watch (or listen to) media on isn’t listed, there’s a chance the extension might still be able to control it.

This will work not just for background windows but also for tabs that aren’t in focus. Out of the box, Streamkeys can play/pause background Chrome windows using the play/pause key on your keyboard. If this key isn’t suitable, you can go into the extension’s settings and change it from the General tab.

A recent Chrome update added support for the media keys and the OSD media¬† overlay that Windows 10 has. This isn’t exactly a popular change since many users don’t like the OSD. Streamkeys doesn’t depend on this feature to work so you can disable it and still use Streamkeys.

Streamkeys is a fairly capable extension so, in addition to using it to play/pause a background Chrome window, you can use it for controlling other aspects of media. More importantly, if you happen to watch media on several different websites, you may benefit from the priority feature that Streamkeys has.

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How to hide Google Doodles on the Chrome New Tab Page

Google doodles mark important historic dates, people in history, and current events. Some doodles are static while others are quick little animations. In some cases, e.g., during the Soccer or Cricket World Cup, or the Olympics, theses doodles are small games that you can play. If you don’t like the doodles, or you end up playing them instead of working, you can choose to hide Google Doodles on the Chrome New Tab Page.

Hide Google Doodles

It’s fairly easy to hide Google doodles from the Chrome New Tab Page. You can do it by disabling a flag. Open a new tab and enter the following in the URL bar;

chrome://flags

On the Chrome flags page, search for ‘doodles’ in the search bar. You will find a flag called “Enable doodles on the local NTP” and it will be set to Default. Open the dropdown next to this flag and select the ‘Disabled’ option.

Relaunch Chrome and open a new tab page. The Google Doodle with be gone and instead be replaced with the usual Google logo.

Google doodles are normally just images, static or animated. In some cases though, they can include a by-line. Disabling the flag will disable/hide the Google doodle but the by-line will still be present at the very bottom of the New Tab Page. There doesn’t seem to be a way to disable it but it is far less distracting than the doodle itself. For one, you can’t play it and end up wasting time, and it’s at the very bottom of the page and much easier to ignore.

There are some extensions in the Chrome Web Store that claim to be able to hide the Google doodle from the New Tab Page but they didn’t seem to work. Given a choice between an extension and disabling a flag, it’s better to go with the flag option. Extensions, while great, tend to slow Chrome down and also cause it to use more RAM.

This is a Chrome specific setting. If you visit the Google home page, or go to a Google search results page, the doodle will still appear on both pages. If you’re too tempted by it, it’s best to just type searches in the URL bar in Chrome, or use the search field on the New Tab page. There is unfortunately no escaping the doodle on the search results page but it’s smaller and off to the side so it’s far less visible.

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How to run Chrome in full screen on launch

Chrome has a full screen mode that you can switch to regardless what you have open. In order to switch to full screen, you have to tap the F11 key. This full screen mode is exclusive to the tab you’re in i.e., you can’t switch to a different tab while you’re in full screen mode. You will have to exit it, select a different tab, and then tap the F11 key again to return to full screen. If you want to run Chrome in full screen on launch, and set it up so that it always opens a certain website at launch, you can do so with the use of a switch and a little change in the browser’s settings.

Chrome in full screen

In order to launch Chrome in full screen, you will have to run it from a desktop shortcut. If you’re on Windows 10, you will have to forgo launching Chrome from the Start menu.

Create a desktop shortcut for Chrome. On Windows 10, you can create this shortcut from the Start Menu. Open the Start menu and go to the apps’ list. Look for Chrome and then drag & drop its app tile on to your desktop.

Next, right-click the shortcut and select Properties from the context menu. Go to the Shortcut tab and locate the ‘Target’ field. At the very end of this field, add one space, and add the following at the very end;

--start-fullscreen

Click Apply and, then OK. If you have any Chrome windows open, you’re going to have to close them first. Next, use the shortcut you created to open Chrome and it will open in full screen. Depending on what your start up settings for Chrome are, it will open either a new tab, or a specific website.

If you need to define which website Chrome should open when you open it in full screen mode, you can do this from Chrome’s own settings. Click the more options button at the top right and select Settings from the menu. Scroll down to the On startup section and select the ‘Add a new page’ option. Enter the URL of the website you want to open. This will apply to Chrome as a whole which means that even if you’re not using the shortcut you created above to open Chrome, it will still open this website.

If that’s a problem for you, it’s a good idea to create a separate profile and setting the start page to a specific website for that profile. You can then use another switch to run Chrome in that particular profile. Chrome can be run with multiple switches easily enough so pair the profile switch with the full screen one.

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