How to enable tab previews in Chrome

Microsoft Edge has a few features that other popular browsers do not have. The list is small but it nevertheless means Edge does a few tricks that other browsers can’t do just yet. One rather useful feature that Edge has is tab previews. When you hover your mouse over tabs that are open, you get a little preview of the tab. This is something neither Chrome nor Firefox can do. You can enable tab previews in Chrome via a flag but the feature doesn’t stack up to the one in Edge.

Tab previews in Chrome

Open Chrome and enter the following in the address bar;

Chrome://flags

This will open the Chrome flags page. Click inside the search bar and search for Hover. The search results will list a flag called Tab Hover Cards. Open the dropdown next to it and select Enabled from the dropdown menu. Relaunch Chrome for the flag to be applied.

Using tab previews

I mentioned earlier that this feature isn’t quite like the one in Edge. At present, the the feature doesn’t give you a picture preview of the tab, at least not yet. When you hover your mouse cursor over the current tab, or a tab that’s in the background the preview you see will only show you the name of the website and its URL. It’s hardly the same as the preview you get in Edge.

The feature doesn’t compare to Edge but that doesn’t mean it’s useless. If you open a lot of tabs in Chrome, you know that it soon gets to a point where the tab title quickly becomes impossible to read. The title is cut off by the other tabs that are open. When you hover your mouse cursor over a tab, the title appears making it easier to distinguish which tab is which.

Ideally, the preview should also show you the favicon for the website but I couldn’t get it to show up during tests. It may take a little time for the icons to be cached. Since it’s a feature enabled via a Flag, it will likely improve but that could take quite a while. There’s never any time frame on when a feature from Flags will be improved, or roll out as a stable feature, and in some cases they might just be retired. It’s rare for a flag feature to be retired but it does happen. That said, this feature is still available in the current version of Canary and there’s a second flag that does actually let you enable image tab previews.

Read How to enable tab previews in Chrome by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to reset Chrome flags to default

Chrome has experimental features that normally are turned off by default. In some rare cases, an experimental feature may be enabled but that normally happens when the feature is fairly stable. These experimental features can be enabled by a user and it’s done from the Chrome Flags page. You can change quite a few things and it’s just as easy to change a flag back to its default value. Here’s how you can reset Chrome flags to their default values.

Reset Chrome flags

You can reset Chrome flags one by one, or all at once. We’re going to show you how to do both.

Open Chrome and paste the following in the URL bar to go to the Flags page.

chrome://flags/

If you want to reset Chrome flags one by one, you need to know which ones you’ve modified. Scroll through the list of flags and any flag with a blue dot to its left has been modified. Open the  dropdown next to it, and select Default to reset it to its default state. You will need to relaunch Chrome after making this change.

If you want to reset all Chrome flags in one go, visit the Chrome Flags page and you will see a ‘Reset all to default’ button at the very top, next to the search bar. Click it and it will reset all the flags to their default state. Again, you will have to relaunch Chrome.

Chrome flags are applied to the entire browser i.e., they are not profile specific and there’s no way to restrict a change to just one profile. The flags’ state is not synced across devices though so if you have Chrome sync enabled, and you use Chrome on different systems where you’ve modified the flags, you will have to reset them on each device individually.

While flags aren’t so unstable that they’ll crash Chrome, or render it unusable, if you happen to run into such a situation where you are no longer able to open Chrome after modifying the state of a flag, you can uninstall and reinstall Chrome. A fresh installation of Chrome will have all its flags set to their default state.

Chrome has the same flags for both its Windows and Mac versions and the process for resetting them to their default states is the same. Flags are not the same as switches so make sure the feature you want to disable was enabled via a flag and not a switch.

Read How to reset Chrome flags to default by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to enable the dark mode on Chrome

Chrome 73 has a dark mode. This new feature is available for both Windows 10 and macOS . Unfortunately, while it works great on macOS, it is only half-done on Windows 10. If you’re using a Mac, enabling dark mode on Chrome is easy. If you’re on Windows 10, it’s going to take a little trick to get it to work.

Chrome dark mode – macOS

Update Chrome to the latest version. To update Chrome, click the more options button at the top right and select Help>About Chrome. Once you’re on the Chrome About page, it will automatically check for updates and update you to Chrome 73. The update will require you relaunch the browser.

On macOS, Chrome will switch to the dark mode only if you’re using the system’s dark theme. To apply it, open the System Preferences app and go to the General preference. Select the dark theme and Chrome will change its UI to reflect it. You can see that it is lacking in some areas i.e., the labels on the speed dial websites are unreadable.

Chrome dark mode – Windows 10

The dark mode on Chrome isn’t officially available for Windows 10. You can force enable it with a switch and this has shortcomings that we’ll get into a little later.

To use the Chrome dark mode on Windows 10, create a desktop shortcut for Chrome. Right-click it and select Properties from the context menu. On the properties window, go to the Shortcut tab and in the target field, enter the following after adding one space.

-force-dark-mode

Close Chrome, and then use the shortcut to open it. You ought to see the dark mode. If you don’t, restart your system.

We mentioned that this has shortcomings and the shortcoming here is that on Windows 10, Chrome 73 doesn’t follow the dark/light theme of the system. You can change the theme to the light theme and if you use this same shortcut to open Chrome, it will still open in dark mode.

If you need to switch between the dark and light mode on Chrome, you can create a second shortcut and leave it unchanged. Use the edited shortcut when you need to open Chrome with the dark mode. Use the unedited shortcut to open Chrome in light mode.

Since you’re using a switch, you will not be able to use any other switch with Chrome and this might be a problem if you rely on one everyday. The alternative is to just wait for Chrome 74 to arrive. It’ll only take a few weeks and it will work with the Windows 10 light/dark theme.

Read How to enable the dark mode on Chrome by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to auto-reload offline tabs in Chrome

When you restore multiple tabs in Chrome, they don’t all reload at once. It’s only when you go to a tab i.e., select it so that it’s active, that it reloads. This is so that your internet doesn’t slow to a snail pace. It’s something like how Windows 10 slowly starts apps up at start up making sure that you system doesn’t freeze up by starting up one too many apps at once. Chrome does something similar with tabs that don’t load when your internet is down. If you want to auto-load offline tabs in Chrome when your internet is back online, you can do so by changing two Chrome flags.

Auto-reload offline tabs

Open Chrome and enter the following in the URL bar. Tap enter to go to the Flags internal Chrome page.

Chrome://flags

On the Chrome flags page, search for the word ‘reload’ and in the results, look for the following two flags.

Offline Auto-reload mode
Only Auto-reload visible tabs

They will both be set to their default states so open the dropdown next to the Offline Auto-reload mode flag and set it to ‘Enabled’. Next, open the dropdown next to the Only Auto-reload visible tabs flag and set it to disabled.

Once you’ve changed the value of both these flags, relaunch Chrome for the change to be applied.

How it works

The Offline Auto-reload mode flag is responsible for reloading any tabs that failed to load because you were offline and its default state is usually one where Chrome will automatically reload the tab when your internet is back. The reason inactive/background tabs don’t reload when your internet is back is because of the Only Auto-reload visible tabs flag.

This flag is also enabled in its default state and what it does is, it limits the automatic reloading of offline tabs to those that are active or in the foreground. If you have, for example, ten tabs open in your browser window, it stands to reason that only one of them will be active. The other nine will be in the background and will not load until you switch to them.

By setting the Only Auto-reload visible tabs flag to its disabled state, and ensuring that Offline Auto-reload mode is enabled, you allow all tabs, regardless if they’re in the foreground or background, to be reloaded automatically when you’re connected to the internet again.

If you want to test this out, turn Airplane mode on, and visit a few websites. When they fail to load, turn Airplane mode off and wait for them to reload. Remember that the tabs will be slow to load if you have a lot of them open.

Read How to auto-reload offline tabs in Chrome by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to install and uninstall extensions in Chrome

The Chrome Web Store has come a long way since its early days. Hardly anyone compares it to Firefox’s add-on market place any more. The extensions have also improved in quality and you will find extensions that compare to those for available to Firefox users. In fact, there have been attempts to run Chrome extensions in Firefox. If you’ve never tried an extension out, or you don’t know where to get started, you’ll be surprised to know how easy it is to install and uninstall extensions in Chrome.

By default, extensions only run in the normal browsing window. If you want to run extensions in Incognito mode, you’re going to have to enable them individually.

Install extensions

Chrome extensions are mostly available in the Chrome Web Store. You can search the store, click an extension. and click the Add to Chrome button.

The extension will show you the list of permissions that the extension needs in order to work and you want to pay attention to this list. Make sure that the extension isn’t asking for permission it doesn’t need. Once you give the extension the permissions it needs, it will install in Chrome.

Extensions install on a per-profile basis so if you have multiple Chrome profiles, the extension that you install will only be installed for the current installation.

Side-loading extensions

While most extensions are available in the Chrome web store, some aren’t. These are mostly extensions that are still under development and in some cases, they’re extensions that may not be approved in the store. You can still install them but the process is different.

Before you install an extension from outside the Chrome Web Store, make sure that it is safe. They can be malicious.

To side-load an extension, open Chrome and click the more options button at the top right. Go to More tools>Extensions. On the Extensions page, you will see a switch at the top right called Developer Mode. Turn it on.

Download the Chrome extension and then return to the Extensions page in Chrome. Click the Load Unpacked button and select the extension that you downloaded and it will be installed in Chrome. Again, it will be installed on a per-profile basis.

Uninstall extension

There are three ways to uninstall an extension. You can uninstall it from the Extensions’ page in Chrome, or you can uninstall it from the extension’s page on the Chrome Web Store. If an extension adds a button next to the URL bar, you can uninstall it from there.

To uninstall an extension from its button next to the URL bar, right-click it, and select the Remove from Chrome option. Accept the confirmation message and it will be uninstalled.

To uninstall an extension from the Extensions page, click the more options button at the top right in Chrome and go to More tools>Extensions. Scroll down the list and find the extension that you want to uninstall. When you find it, click the Remove button, and confirm that you want to remove the extension.

The third way to remove an extension is to visit its Chrome Web Store page. The Add to Chrome button that you clicked to install it will be replaced with a Remove from Chrome button. Click it, confirm that you want to remove the extension, and it will be uninstalled.

When you uninstall an extension, all its data is also removed with it.

Read How to install and uninstall extensions in Chrome by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter