It was Google who started to release minor improvements as major version upgrades. The browser has just reached version 11, less than two and a half years after its first beta version hit the Internet. That’s about four major version changes every year.
Google Chrome managed to close in on Opera which is currently available as Opera 11, and surpass Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (version 9 is currently in development) and Mozilla Firefox (which is developing version 4). All version wise of course.
The latest Google Chrome Canary build has just hit version 11. Canary builds are the bleeding edge version of the Chrome browser, followed by Google Chrome Dev, Google Chrome Beta and Google Chrome Stable builds.
It usually does not take long until the dev version switches to the version of the Canary build, followed later by the beta and stable releases.
Anything new in Google Chrome 11? The only thing that caught my attention was a select your search engine screen on first run which I personally had not seen before. This may have been in there for a longer time though, since I installed Chrome year’s ago.
I’m not sure if Google posts release notes. The Google Chrome releases blog for instance only posts releases notes of beta, stable and dev channel updates, and that only sporadically and often without essential information included.
Google recently announced that they would speed up the development cycle from releasing a major version quarterly to releasing a new version of the browser every six weeks. Expect Google Chrome 12 to hit the web in six weeks (thanks Hal9000 for the tip)
Add-ons and extensions that promise to speed up the downloading of files that are hosted on file hosts such as Rapidshare or Megaupload come and go all the time. The main reason for this fluctuation is the cat and mouse game between file hosting providers and extension developers.
File hosts obviously are interested that users stay on their websites for as long as possible to earn from advertisements, make the site more attractive to advertisers and to sell their premium accounts to users who are not patient enough to wait. Nearly every file hosting site uses times, bandwidth limitations and other means to achieve these goals.
Extension developers on the other hand have to cope with ever changing scripts on the sites. File hosts change technicalities regularly to break extensions and other tools that offer faster downloads from their servers.
It will therefor be only a matter of time until the Google Chrome extension Megaupload Instant Download Helper needs to be updated. The extension for now offers to speed up downloads at the popular file hosting site Megaupload by bypassing the wait time limit that is imposed on free users.
The functionality of the website is not changed, which means that the regular download button is displayed once the countdown has reached zero. That may be helpful if the extension fails to display the download directly.
Megaupload Instant Download Helper can be installed directly from the Google Chrome Extensions gallery.
The extension tries to start downloads on Megaupload download pages automatically. Users who want to download files see the save as dialog directly even if the time is still counting down.
Alternatives are available for other browsers. Opera users may want to take a closer look at the Opera Download Helper extension, Firefox users at the userscripts Megaupload Automatic Downloader or Megaupload Automatizador Plus!.
If you are not using one of the desktop applications that can tune into Grooveshark’s vast music database you are stuck with the web interface which can in some situations become quite bothersome. Most users run Grooveshark in a tab in the browser. If they want to stop the music or change the type of music that is played they need to do that on the Grooveshark tab.
SharkZapper for Google Chrome changes as it provides remote control functionality for the music streaming service. While it does not change the fact that Grooveshark needs to be open in a tab in the background, it offers direct access to much needed controls.
The extension places an icon in the Chrome address bar that expands on a click. The interface displays the song that is currently playing along with cover art if available.
Controls allow to mute the song, change the volume, pause it or load the previous or next song. Users who are logged in can furthermore rate the song (smile or frown) and add it to their music or favorites.
A search is available as well to quickly search for songs on Grooveshark. The search activates the Grooveshark window that displays the search results from where the songs can be played or added to playlists.
A mouse over on the extension icon displays the artist and song that are currently playing on Grooveshark.
Options are available to change the behavior of the extension slightly. It is for instance possible to activate notifications on song change, or to remove the album art from the remote control window.
SharkZapper is available for direct installation at the Chrome extension gallery. The remote has been designed for Grooveshark’s HTML-based interface.
Google Chrome has supported extensions, sometimes called add-ons, for some time now. Recently the Google Chrome Web Store was added to the browser which has added web apps to the picture. The terminology can be confusing and this article tries to explain the differences.
Lets take a look first at how extensions and web apps can be installed. The majority of extensions is available at the Google Chrome extensions gallery. Web apps on the other hand are available at the Chrome web store.
But there is more to it than just a different location on the Internet. Web apps, according to Google are “applications you can run inside your browser with a dedicated user interface and, typically, rich user interaction”. Web apps therefor are nothing more than interactive websites at this point in time. Google’s intention is to formalize “the web app concept in a way that will be familiar to anyone who’s used apps on a smartphone”.
A web app basically is a link to an interactive application on the Internet.
Extensions on the other hand often extend the functionality of the Chrome browser and websites viewed with the browser. They are not limited to providing their functionality on a specific website either.
Incognito Mode is the name of the private browsing option in the Google Chrome browser. Once Incognito Mode is activated it blocks the storage of session related data on the computer’s hard drive. This includes cache files, history entries, searches or cookies.
Incognito Mode spawns a new window every time it is activated. Activation is done by either pressing Ctrl-Shift-N or clicking on the wrench icon and selecting New Incognito Window from the context menu.
Users who want to always open a website or domain in Incognito Mode have to do so manually on every browsing session as there is no option available to automate that process.
That’s where the Chrome extension Autonito offers to step in. The extension offers to store a list of websites and domains that should always be launched in Incognito Mode in the browser. Autonito spawns an Incognito window automatically whenever one of the stored domain names or IPs is loaded from bookmarks or manually in the address bar.
It basically automates the process so that selected websites and domains are always opened in Incognito Mode in the browser. The list of sites and IPs is managed in the extension’s options.
Yesterday Google released a new Google Chrome stable version bringing the version to 8.0.552.237 on all platforms. The release fixes several security vulnerabilities which makes it a mandatory update for all Chrome users.
The Chrome blog lists 16 different vulnerabilities that have been fixed in the new version of which one received the highest rating critical and 13 of high. The researcher who discovered the critical vulnerability has received the first “elite” Chromium Security Reward which comes with a $3133.7 payment.
The list of fixed vulnerabilities:
The HTML5 web video wars are heating up again, this time with the news that Google has announced to remove support for the h.264 codec from the Chrome browser in the next couple months. Google product manager Mike Jazayeri admits that ” H.264 plays an important role in video” but that Google has decided to direct their resources exclusively “towards completely open codec technologies”.
What does it mean for Chrome users? Chrome will eventually only support HTML5 web videos that are making use of Google’s own WebM (VP8) codec or Theora video codecs, and will refuse to play H.264 videos if the website in question streams video in that format only. While that’s not the case for Youtube and maybe a few other sites, the majority of Internet sites will not encode their videos multiple times to make sure they can be watched in all browsers.
Lets take a look at browsers and their HTML5 video support:
- Google Chrome WebM8, Theora
- Firefox, WebM8, Theora
- Opera, WebM8, Theora
- Internet Explorer 9, H.264
- Safari, H.264
Google Chrome until now was the only browser that supported all video codecs. Internet users now have the problem that their favorite browser may not be able to play videos that they want to watch on the Internet, which means that they need to keep a second browser installed, or download the videos to the computer to watch them locally.
H.264 is the Blu-Ray codec and Apple makes use of it as well in their products. If you look at entertainment devices you notice that the majority plays H.264 but not WebM or Theora.
The majority of commenters at the official blog announcement over at the Chromium blog appear to disagree with Google on the move. Some thing Google tries to push their own codec at the expense of the Chrome user experience, others state that the WebM8 codec is inferior to h.264 in quality.
What’s your take on this? And how will you handle HTML5 web video?
The new tab page of the Chrome browser does not display a white page, but links to features or modules of the web browser. It will for instance list the most visited websites, the recently closed websites, the new Google Chrome Apps web store and apps that have been installed from it as well as bookmarks and an add for the new Chrome notebook (which is shown to everyone even though only users from the US can apply to test it).
It got a bit crowded in there, especially with the introduction of the Apps section. Users who do not use the web store or apps may prefer to remove that element from the new tab page of the browser. Other users may prefer to hide the most visited or recently closed site listing instead, or the ad for the Chrome notebook.
Chrome users who want to get rid of one feature or the other need to pay close attention to the page. There are two – light – elements on the new tab page, one next to the module heading which is always visible, and one at the rightmost location on mouse hover.
The left arrow / down arrow at the left of the module name can be used to expand or compress that listing on the new tab page. It reduces the space needed for the module but will not remove it from the new tab page.
The tiny x on the right while hovering on an entry on the other hand allows just that. Just move the mouse over the module that you do not want to see anymore on the new tab page and click it to remove it. But be careful with that, as there does not seem to be an option to restore the new tab page.
It can sometimes be very handy to access a website or service through a proxy server. Why? It can be that the service is limited access to users from a specific country, or that a website that you want to access is banned or blocked in a country or computer network. Proxies are often the solution when it comes to visiting blocked websites. They are not a solution for all issues though and users should make sure not to enter sensitive information while using a third party proxy server.
1-Click Web Proxy is an extension for the Google Chrome web browser that can load any web page through a proxy in one click.
The extension places an icon in the Chrome address bar that, when clicked, loads the page again in a supported web proxy.
Does it work on all sites? Not really but it should work on the majority of sites, especially on all sites that do not use streaming or advanced technologies. The proxy server used supports https connections which means it works with sites like Twitter or Facebook as well. It is obviously up to the user to make use of the proxy this way, considering the risk involved. Normal web surfing on the other hand is fine and should not pose a security risk.
It would be handy if the website could be loaded through the proxy right away. That’s unfortunately not the case. Still, it can be used to load a website that is not loading properly for instance using the web proxy.
The web proxy used it passing.tk. My advise: Use the proxy for normal web surfing but not for accounts other sensitive tasks.
1-Click Web Proxy is available for direct installation at the official Google Chrome Extensions gallery
Uploading things through the "Choose File" prompt on the web is slow and cumbersome. Google Chrome, however, lets you drag and drop files into any window to upload them, even when it isn't a feature of the webapp you're using. More »
Whenever you try to download an executable file in Google Chrome you are presented with the following confirmation prompt at the bottom of the browser: “This type of file can harm your computer. Are you sure you want to download..”. A save or discard prompt is displayed giving the user the option to either save the file to the local hard drive or discard the download. It still means that users need to move the mouse down to the prompt to select an option.
While I could not confirm it I read in user comments that even Linux users get the message.
Is there a way to get rid of the message? Yes and no. There is no switch to disable the confirmation prompt completely and retain the auto downloading functionality. There is no Chrome option or startup parameter that can be used to disable the This Type Of File Can Harm Your Computer message.
The only option that users have is to enable the option to ask where to save each file before downloading. It is not an ideal solution because it will spawn the download window on every download.
The window offers an advantage to the user. Instead of having to move the mouse to the Save or Discard prompt it is possible to complete the download by pressing enter on the keyboard, providing the right directory is displayed on screen.
There you have it. You either have the option to live with the “harm your computer” message or switch to the ask before download option to replace it with a download window.
I have not tested a third alternative: Download Managers. These programs should theoretically be able to intercept the downloads so that the files are downloaded automatic and without spawning the safety popup.
The majority of blogs and a lot of websites display social media widgets on their pages. They display Facebook likes, Facebook users, Twitter tweets, Disqus comments and a lot more. Depending on the site, it can add a lot to the loading time of the website.
WidgetBlock offers a way out, at least for users of the Google Chrome web browser. The Google Chrome extension basically blocks the majority of social media widgets on all Internet websites the user opens in the browser.
It removes the widgets from the page so that they are not displayed anymore on the page, or at least replaced with a non functioning place holder.
Here is a screenshot of a Techcrunch article without the extension installed:
And here is the same article with the extension installed and enabled:
And finally how it looks in the Firefox web browser with NoScript enabled:
As you see, there is not much of a difference in page design. WidgetBlock comes with an option page to enable individual widgets, which is obviously helpful if they are regularly used by the Chrome user.
The options page lists several dozen Web 2.0 and statistics sites and services that are blocked by the extension. Among them services that are not shown on the page like Google Analytics or Scorecardresearch.
Chrome users who encounter a lot of those social media and stat tracking widgets and scripts may want to install WidgetBlock in their browser to make the pages that embed the widgets load faster and less obtrusive (via).
Options provided are to open the selected link in a new tab in the same browser window or in the current tab. This works fine in most instances, but not all the time. It is for instance not working in Google Search. An error message is displayed if Safy is used to display a search result in a sandboxed tab.
Then again, it works very well for normal links on most sites. Ideal for opening a link on Twitter, Facebook or blogs in a safer environment.
Safy is available only for the Chrome browser. It can be installed directly from the Chrome extension gallery.
Have you ever been hammering down on the f5 key on the keyboard to refresh a website waiting for something to change on that page? Maybe it was during the last minute of an online auction, maybe the confirmation email that did not arrive yet in the email inbox, or a reply to a technical problem that you have posted in a web forum.
It sometimes cannot get fast enough, and pressing F5 to refresh the page is an option, albeit one that quickly becomes boring and exhaustive.
Auto Refresh Plus for the Chrome browser automates part of the procedure. The extension can be configured to automatically refresh the active web page in a given time interval.
To do this users pick one of the preconfigured intervals from the extension’s options, or select a custom time period in which the page should be refreshed.
A click on the Start button initiates the process, and the extension will from that moment on refresh the page in the given interval. It will continue to do so even if the tab becomes inactive. Users can switch to other tabs to continue their web browsing session without having to worry about refreshing the selected tab manually.
This would go on for as long as the browser is not closed. Auto Refresher Plus comes with an automatic stop definition that users can add. They can add content to the configuration of the auto refresh. If the extension detects the content on the page it will stop the auto refreshing. This does however mean that users need to know the contents that appear on the website that are not already displayed currently. It would have been nice if the extension could detect changes automatically to stop the refresh.
Auto Refresh Plus for Google Chrome is a handy extension for users who make use of the F5 key regularly to refresh a web page.
The Google Chrome browser comes with a built-in popup blocker, and while it manages to keep most of the popups from spawning it misses some. That’s not a problem for users who rarely encounter sites that spawn those popups, but users who visit those sites on a regular basis may be looking for a better solution to get rid of popups in the Google browser once and for all.
The Google Chrome extension Better Pop Up Blocker improves the popup blocking capabilities of the browser. How does it do that?
Chrome users who want to see how the browser fails to prevent popups from opening can open the demonstration page. The page spawns popup windows when the user clicks on the image or anywhere else on the page. The method spawns three popup windows, which would have been blocked by the Chrome extension.
All it takes to block popups more efficiently in the Chrome browser is to install the Better Pop Up Blocker extension. The extension displays an icon in the Chrome address bar whenever popups have been automatically blocked, giving the user an option to allow popups individually.
Better Popup Blocker offers to whitelist websites. By default popups on Google, Youtube, Hulu and Apple are whitelisted, which means that the program will not block popups on those websites. It is possible to add and remove websites from the whitelist, or use blacklist mode which allows popups by default to give the user more control over the process.
Advanced options are available to select the functions that should be blocked by the popup blocker.
Better Pop Up Blocker improves the popup blocking in the Chrome browser. It is a must have extension for users who regularly encounter popups in the web browser.
RSS Live Links is a handy Google Chrome extension for users who want access to selected feeds and their updates right in the Chrome browser. The extension adds a new button to the Chrome address bar.
This button controls the extension’s functionality. A click on it displays the monitored RSS feeds, and an option to scan available feeds. No feeds are monitored in the beginning, and the user’s first task is to click on the available feeds link to subscribe to some feeds.
RSS Live Links will automatically scan all open tabs for RSS feed links to display those as links to the user. It is then possible to subscribe to selected feeds by clicking on them in the interface.
Feeds that are added this way are monitored from that moment on. The extension’s options can be used to add feed urls manually as well, but more about that later on.
The RSS Live Links button will indicate RSS feed updates from that moment on. A left-click on the button displays the monitored feeds. Another click on one of the feeds displays the latest RSS updates of the selected website or service. A short preview is available on mouse over, a click loads the selected page in a new tab in the browser.
Articles that have been selected are marked as read, and options exist to mark all articles as read and to open the feed homepage.
RSS Live Links uses sound notifications in addition to icon animations to notify the user about feed updates. It is possible to disable either one in the options.
RSS Live Links Options
Lets take a closer look at the extensive options.
Display options are configured at the top of the option’s page. Here it is possible to define the maximum height and width of the popup, feed and title formatting options, the maximum number of items per feed or how feeds or items are shown in the popup.
Groups can be configured as well. This is helpful for users with lots of feeds that have subscribed to, and users who prefer feed categories for easier access to specific news. Feeds can be added to specific groups, e.g. windows for windows news sites. It is necessary to enable feed groups in the options before they become visible in the popup.
Export and import options exist for the configuration, but unfortunately not for opml files. It is therefor not possible to import a list of feeds in the program. Chrome users need to click on the Save Options button before the changes become visible in the browser.
RSS Live Links is a handy extension for Chrome users who want to be notified right in the browser when one of their subscribed feeds is updated with new content.
The extension could use a bulk import option for adding multiple feeds at once. Another great option would be the ability to see full feed previews by hovering over the feed item. Chrome users with more than a handful of subscribed feeds should consider using groups to improve the display of feeds in the popup.
Did you know that there is no setting in the graphical user interface of the Google Chrome browser to change the location and size of the cache? I searched up and down and could not find an option to do that. Some users may say that this is not essential anymore, with growing hard drives and such. Others may have a different opinion on it on the other hand, considering that Chrome always installs itself on the main system partition in Windows.
The cache is conveniently placed in the installation directory as well. You find the default Chrome cache location under C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cache if you are running Windows 7.
There are several reasons why someone would want to change the location and size of the Chrome cache. Solid State Drives and system partitions with low storage space come to mind. And some users may want to move the cache location to the RAM instead, to speed up things, get the cache auto deleted on exit or avoid to many write cycles on the system partition.
The only official option to relocate the cache and change its size are two command line switches that need to be added to the Chrome shortcut. That’s not the most elegant solution, considering that these shortcuts are not executed if Chrome is the default browser and a web address is launched from a third party software.
The disk cache dir parameter defines a new location of the Chrome cache, while disk cache size changes the cache limit. Here is an example:
This changes the location of the Google Chrome cache to d:\cache, and the limit of the cache to 100 Megabytes.
How to do change the Chrome shortcut then to apply those new cache directions?
In Windows, you locate the Chrome shortcut (on the desktop, start menu or taskbar), right-click it and select properties. The shortcut tab should open in a new window. Locate the Target field in the tab and append the cache directions to the end of the field, e.g.
C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe --disk-cache-dir=”d:\cache” --disk-cache-size=104857600
Some users may want to limit the cache even further, to an absolute minimum. Those users can set the disk cache size parameter to 1, which works best for all cases.
Now another step is required to ensure that Chrome is using the right cache location and size when a link is clicked (this is only necessary if Chrome is the default system browser). Windows users need to open the Windows Registry and do some Registry hacking for this. Open the Registry with Windows-R, typing regedit and the enter key.
Now locate the Registry key
You should find a path to the Chrome executable there. All we need to do is to append the cache location and size to the path so that Chrome uses the right caching information when links are clicked and Chrome is not open at that time.
Simply add --disk-cache-dir=”d:\cache” --disk-cache-size=104857600 after chrome.exe”, so that it looks like the following now:
“C:\Users\Martin\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” --disk-cache-dir=”d:\cache” --disk-cache-size=104857600 -- “%1″
There is an alternative to adding the location command line parameter to Chrome. Symbolic links can be used to move cache location from its original path to another one.
You can check out How To Move Large Apps Or Games To Another Drive if you want to create the junction manually. We recommend to use a program like Steam Mover to do that, as it offers to make the change without having to use the command line.
The Chrome developers should consider adding options to the graphical user interface to change the location and size of the cache.
Web browser plugins are a main attack vector on today’s Internet. Especially outdated plugins increase the risk of becoming a victim of a successful attack. If you follow the news here on Ghacks.net or on other similar sites you may have noticed an increase in plugin vulnerabilities over the last years with Adobe leading the leaderboard with its widely used Adobe Flash plugin.
Browser developers have recognized the danger, and have started to offer solutions. Mozilla was one of the first with their Mozilla Plugin Check, which checks the installed browser plugins after each Firefox update. The plugin check website can be accessed manually as well to check plugins not only in Firefox but all web browsers at any time. The implementation has its flaws though, as it will not warn users the moment their plugins become outdated, but only if they access the site manually or after updates.
A new Chrome Labs tool has become available in today’s Google Chrome Dev release that proposes a better solution. Disable outdated plug-ins will automatically disable plugins with known security vulnerabilities and offer update links for them.
This seems to suggest that plugins will only be disabled if an update is available, and not if a security vulnerability has been discovered and a patch is in the making.
Still, this ensures that plugins will be disabled in the Chrome web browser as soon as the plugin developer releases a new version of the plugin. Google is not offering a list of supported plugins, and it is not clear yet how many plugins are supported by the feature. It is however very likely that the most common plugins are supported.
Chrome’s implementation decreases the time it takes to notify the user about outdated plugins. While it is still not a 0-second defense, it offers reasonable protection and gets rid of outdated plugins on user systems.
An option to disable plugins based on security notifications would be the logical next step. This would block plugin vulnerabilities completely, providing that the security notifications are processed in a timely manner.
Users can subscribe to channels or other users on Youtube, which has the effect that they will receive notifications in their account if a new video has been posted on the video portal. That’s a great way of keeping up to date with videos that are produced by specific users or channels, and to make sure that no video is ever missed.
Subscriptions are shown in the user profile, which makes them a bit uncomfortable to work with.
YouTube Subscription Monitor offers an interesting alternative for Youtube users who use Chrome to access the site.
Once installed it can be used to monitor the subscriptions of one Youtube user. One great aspect of the extension is that it is possible to monitor the subscriptions of any Youtube user, not just the subscriptions of the own account.
Before subscriptions can be accessed, the account that should be monitored needs to be added to the program’s settings. This is done by right-clicking the Tube icon in the Chrome status bar and selecting Options for the context menu.
The options contain several additional settings, including the interval of the update checks and the number of videos that are displayed by the extension. The option to display new video notifications is enabled by default, and can be disabled in case that is not needed.
It is now possible to left-click the icon in the header of the Chrome browser to display the latest new videos in a menu.
Each video is displayed with a small thumbnail, the video title, playtime, uploader and date it was uploaded. A left-click on a video opens the video in a new tab in the web browser.
Youtube Subscription Monitor is an interesting option for Youtube users who make use of the subscription feature and use the Chrome browser to view the videos on the video site. The extension can be installed directly on the Google Chrome Extension’s website.
Today the Google Chrome development team has released an update for both the stable and beta channels of the Chrome browser. Both updates fix several security issues in the browser, and are therefor recommended updates for every Chrome user.
A total of nine different security issues have been fixed in both browser versions, of which one has been rated critical and six as high.
- High Use-after-free when using document APIs during parse.
- High Use-after-free in SVG styles.
- High Use-after-free with nested SVG elements.
- Low Possible browser assert in cursor handling.
- High Race condition in console handling.
- Low Unlikely browser crash in pop-up blocking.
- Critical Fix bug 45400 properly on the Mac.
- High Memory corruption in Geolocation.
- High Memory corruption in Khmer handling.
- Low Failure to prompt for extension history access.
The new versions can be updated from within the browser, by clicking on the Wrench icon in the header bar, and then on About Google Chrome.