With all the talk about Google‘s new “instant search” functionality it was only a matter of time until it was made available in the Chrome browser. Recent versions of the developer version of Google Chrome, and the Chrome Canary builds, are already compatible with Google Instant Search.
And with compatible we do not mean that users can open a Google Search page and search there. No, the instant search functionality has been integrated into the browser’s omnibar.
It is however not activated by default, and users need to start Chrome with the parameter --enable-match-preview to enable Instant Search in the Omnibar.
Once started with the parameter, the browser will automatically display search results for characters that are entered into the address bar of the browser. The behavior is different from that on Google’s search page though, as results can be divided into two groups.
The first result group is the typical Google search result listing, the second a matching page for the search term. Entering gh for instance in the address bar will load ghacks directly, while g will load the Google homepage. This may be linked to bookmarks in the browser.
There is obviously a problem with that, especially for users who type moderately. It could mean that they accidentally open a lot of pages while typing.
The search page looks different though, as the developers have decided to add the blank tab page information on top of the search results. A click with the mouse on the page that has been loaded removes those information immediately, while pressing return loads the page again without the information on top.
The developers should consider adding configuration options to the new search option, for instance an option to increase the time it takes before search results are displayed.
Using a web browser’s keyboard controls can speed up web surfing significantly. But most web browsers limit those keyboard shortcuts, and do not offer options to add additional hotkeys to speed up specific operations that are not supported by default.
Vimium is a Google Chrome extension that adds a few dozen keyboard controls to the browser to speed up web surfing.
The controls become available directly after installation, and can be used to achieve various goals in the Google browser.
It is for instance possible to press h, j, k or l to scroll left, down, up or right, press gg to automatically scroll to the top, or Shift-G to reach the bottom of the active page.
More useful than those commands that are already available, albeit set to different keys are the additional options that are provided by Vimium
Chrome users with Vimium installed can press t to open a new tab, d to close the active tab, u to restore the last closed tab and Shift-J or Shift-K to navigate quickly between tabs.
That’s just a sample of the possibilities that the extension offers. Other commands of interest are Shift-H, and Shift-L, that allow to go back or forward in history. This especially is useful for users who usually right-click to do that, as the right-click menu does not always offer that functionality.
The key r reloads the current page, and y copies the url to the clipboard.
A complete list of commands is available at the Google Chrome Extensions gallery page. It is possible to pause the extension by pressing i, which ignores all hotkeys until Esc is hit.
Vimium can speed up standard web surfing processes in the Chrome browser. Firefox find in Vimperator a similar extension for their browser.
The Chromium developers have really redefined versioning at least when it comes to their web browser. The browser that made its first appearance in 2008 has now reached version 7 in the developer channel, with the likelihood that the beta and stable channels will follow suite later this year.
Usually, a major leap in version correlates to a big change in a product. Not so with Google Chrome 7, as the first release fixes one issue for all operating systems, one Mac specific issue and stability fixes for the Chrome Frame feature.
That’s not really anything to get excited about, some would even go so far to state that the only reason Chrome accelerates the versioning is to beat Internet Explorer and Opera who currently sit tight in the first two spots with versions 9 and 10 respectively.
But it is only a matter of time until Google Chrome manages to get ahead of those two browsers. Will the developers top there, or will we see releases of Google Chrome 15 in two year’s time?
Users who want to download the latest dev release of Google Chrome 7 can do so at the official dev channel download page.
A huge usability problem for some users in Google Chrome is the fact that the browser exits automatically when the last open tab is closed. While that may make sense sometimes, some users would expect it to open the blank tab page instead and leave the browser open. The blank tab page feels like the natural option to display when the last tab has been closed in the browser, as it contains links to the most used websites and the history.
Users who want to close the last tab, and see the blank tab page instead need to first open the blank tab page, and then close the other remaining tab to keep the browser open.
Last Tab Standing is a new Chrome extension that changes the default behavior in the web browser. The extension overrides the default behavior of the browser to exit if the last tab is closed. It instead opens a new tab so that the browser window remains open, exactly the functionality that some Chrome users like to see.
The browser can still be closed by closing the newly opened tab, or by clicking on the x icon in the upper right corner of the browser window.
Last Tab Standing has some quirks right now, like the previously mentioned exiting of the browser if the new tab is closed. Another limitation is that it only works in one browser window. Users who work with multiple browser windows will notice that the extension will do its magic only in the last remaining window.
The developer has plans to improve the extension, but states that the browser currently has certain limitations that may prevent an optimal solution.
Chrome users who want to try out the browser extension can download it from the official Chrome extensions gallery.
A virtual keyboard provides two main advantages over a hardware keyboard. First, it defeats most keyloggers as the keys are not typed in but clicked on, and second it may offer faster access to special characters, especially from other keyboard layouts.
An example would be an English user who needs to write a German ö. Sure, the user could press the combination Alt+0246 on the numpad to write that letter, but only if the code is known, and chance is it is not if it is not commonly used.
Virtual Keyboard is a Google Chrome extension that offers both benefits. It supports a wide variety of different keyboard layouts, including the default English keyboard, but also German, French, Spanish, Greek, Russian or Cyrillic keyboard layouts. More than 80 different layouts are supported by the extension.
The virtual keyboard is automatically displayed on every web page that displays at least one text form. Like the previously reviewed Virtual Keyboard userscript it fails to work on secure (https) sites which severely limits its protection against keyloggers. One would expect an add-on like this to work on secure sites as well, considering that those are often prime targets of attackers.
Only the English keyboard layout is available after installation. The Chrome user can use the options to add layouts to the program, to switch between them on the web pages it is displayed.
It is possible to switch between layouts in the header, or by pressing Ctrl-Q.
The lack of support for https sites makes it less usable from a security perspective. It is nevertheless helpful for users who have to type characters from different languages regularly in the web browser.
Using the build in downloader to download smaller files is usually not a problem in modern web browsers. It is however different if lots of files need to be downloaded, or if the files have a larger size than the usual files that are downloaded. The first problem becomes apparent when the simultaneous download restrictions of the web server or web browser kick in, the second when large downloads fail and cannot be resumed. Besides, the download stops if the web browser is closed.
Download managers have a solution for both problems. They can queue up as many files as the user wants and offer resume capabilities if the web server does the same.
Firefox users have Flashgot, a great add-on that integrates download managers into the web browser. Windows Chrome users now have a comparable solution by the name of oGet which adds support for about thirty different download managers.
Among the download managers supported are popular programs like BitComet, LeechGet, FlashGet, GetRight, Free Download Manager, Orbit Downloader or Mass Downloader. Users who do not find their download manager among the supported programs can add it as a custom downloader.
Once the extension has been installed it displays the options menu. Here it is possible to select a default download manager from the available supported download managers, or configure custom manager. The extension recognizes installed download managers immediately, all others are not available for selection.
All downloads can from that moment on be redirected to the configured download manager. This is done by either pressing Ctrl-Alt and left-clicking on a file download link, or by shift-right-clicking if the option has been enabled in the extension’s options. The Shift Right-click option offers to download only the file the mouse hovers over, or all download links on a page, which is very comfortable.
Specific file types can furthermore be redirected to the download manager directly by configuring the integration mode settings in the options. This sends the downloads of those file-types with a left-click to the download manager.
The download manager integration works as expected after the initial configuration. Bad news is, that the extension is currently only supporting Microsoft Windows installations of Chrome. The download manager integrater is available for direct installation in the Chrome Extensions Gallery. (via Tech Trickz)
Having a private browsing mode built in to your browser -- like Incognito in Google Chrome -- can be incredibly handy. I used it as a way to log in to multiple Gmail accounts prior to Google enabling that feature natively. It's useful for hiding local traces of your browsing activities, of course.
Once in a while, however, you (like me) may find yourself accidentally typing one of your Incognito-only URLs into a standard Chrome tab. It's an easy enough mistake to make when you've got multiple browser windows open and your focus is somewhat lacking.
Fortunately, however, it's also easy to prevent. The Autonito extension for Chrome allows you to create a list of sites which you only want opening in Incognito mode.
Type one of your chosen URLs, and Autonito stops the tab from loading and pops it out into a new Incognito window. The only thing lacking right now is wildcard support, but based on the number of requests on the Gallery page I suspect it will be added soon.
Google Chrome’s Incognito Mode is a private browsing mode, in which the recording of information about the web browsing session is blocked. No records are stored in the web browser or on the computer system. That’s helpful to improve the privacy of a web session, or to avoid problems when using public or third party computer systems.
Google Chrome users can launch the private browsing mode manually in the web browser, or automatically by launching the web browser with the private browsing startup parameter.
The Chrome extension Autonito adds a third possibility. Chrome users can define websites in the extension that should always be loaded in incognito mode. Websites are added or removed in the extension’s options. The extension will automatically launch a new incognito window whenever a Chrome user clicks on a link pointing to a website included in the list, opens the site from the bookmarks or enters the site url into the address bar.
The extension currently has difficulties with cookies, which are stored in the browser. It is likely that the developer will update the extension as this is a known issue. It is however possible to work around that issue.
It is possible to block cookies from specific websites in the Chrome options. Open the Chrome options by clicking on the Tools icon and selecting Options from the context menu. Switch to Under the bonnet, and click on the Content Settings button.
A click on Exceptions displays the configuration menu to add cookies to a whitelist or blacklist. Simply click on Add, enter the domain name in the pattern field, and select Block from the available actions.
Autonito can automate the usage of the incognito mode in Chrome. The only possible problem that we see is that the list of sites that are automatically launched in incognito mode is available in the browser. But the list does not necessarily mean that the site is visited by the user who has configured it.
Autonito can be downloaded from the official Google Chrome Extensions Gallery.
I often store websites I visit in the bookmarks to access their contents at a later time. Happens quite often after reading an RSS feed entry, or stumbling upon an interesting link that I have no time to follow at that moment, and that I do not want to keep open in a browser tab.
The problem with this approach is that those “read later” bookmarks get mixed with the other bookmarks. It would of course be possible to create a special bookmarks folder for temporary bookmarks, but that would require some dragging and dropping, or navigating through the bookmark structure before the bookmark could be saved.
TempMarks offers a solution. The Google Chrome extension places an icon in the Chrome address bar upon installation which can be used to add, access and clear temporary bookmarks.
The extension in its current stage offers the controls after clicking on the extension icon. Here it is possible to add the active site to the temporary bookmark’s list, clean the list or access previously saved bookmarks.
It takes a total of three clicks to save a bookmark, and two clicks to load a website or clean the listing.
The developer could streamline this process by saving the website automatically if the plus button is clicked on in the interface.
A keyboard shortcut to save and access temporarily saved bookmarks would be handy as well.
The biggest advantage of TempMarks is that it stores the temporary bookmarks in its interface, and not in the Chrome bookmarks.
Firefox users can look at Tark Temporary Bookmarks for a similar add-on.
All the talking about sidebar tabs today in Firefox reminded me that I wanted to write about a similar feature in Google Chrome, to be more precise in the Google Chrome dev releases and Chromium.
The developers of the browser have added a startup switch to enable side tabs. Users who are running a dev version of Chromium or Chrome can add the startup parameter –enable-vertical-tabs to enable the side tabs functionality.
Here is how it is done in detail (Windows):
Locate the Google Chrome icon, right-click it and select Properties. This opens the Google Chrome Properties window. Locate the Target field and add –enable-vertical-tabs at the end of it. Make sure there is a space between chrome.exe and the parameter.
A click on OK saves the new parameter. Start or restart Google Chrome. There is no visual indication of side tabs yet. They are activated by right-clicking a tab and selecting Use side tabs from the context menu.
The current version seems to have problems drawing the side tabs right away. It is necessary to resize the screen, or minimize / restore it before the tabs are displayed in the sidebar.
Each website is represented by its favicon, page title and a close button. It does not seem possible to change the width of the sidebar tabs yet. The title bar looks awfully empty as well with side tabs enabled.
A right-click on a tab in the sidebar and the selection of Use side tabs will revert the changes and move the tabs to their original location in the browser. It is once again necessary to resize / minimize the window before the tabs are displayed.
For the last days, the developer version of the Google Chrome web browser has had troubles downloading large files from the Internet. Downloads of files with a minimum size of 50 Megabytes, stopped abruptly at about 30 Megabytes.
Retrying the download yielded the same results. The first thought was that this was related to a single file or server, that acted up strangely.
But the problems persisted and after trying to download a dozen different files, all with a file size of 50 to 200 Megabytes, it became clear that Google Chrome was the problem.
Examples of files are the Emsisoft Emergency Kit with a size of 103 Megabytes, some Mediafire downloads with a size of about 180 Megabytes each, and downloads over at Softpedia, like Kaspersky’s Small Office Security.
All downloads stopped at approximately the same size, 36.7 or 36.8 Megabytes. File extensions were also different, including archive formats like zip or executables like exe.
There does not seem to be a fix for this issue yet, and it is not clear if all Chrome versions are affected or only the latest developer release, version 6.0.466.0.
All downloads were completed successfully in other web browsers like Firefox, which seems to confirm that this is a Chrome-only problem. This also is the workaround for users who experience the same download problems.
The test system was running Windows 7 Pro, 64-bit. Have you been experiencing the same troubles? Let us know in the comments.
Users who want to preserve information found on a website have several options to do that. They can save the webpage which creates a local HTML copy on the computer system, save specific elements, copy and paste text or use a screenshot tool to turn the web page into an image which is an elegant solution as it creates a single file with all the information of that page including scripts and other dynamic elements that are not saved in a local HTML copy.
WebPage ScreenShot for Google Chrome offers that functionality. The extension places an icon in the Chrome address bar after installation which, when pressed, displays options to take a screenshot of the visible area or the whole page.
The extension displays the screenshot of the page in a new browser window. Here it is possible to change the zoom level, open the editor for same basic image editing or save the screenshot directly by right-clicking the image and selecting Save Image.
Editing options are displayed on the same screen. It is possible to add text to the screenshot, change the orientation, draw elements or cut the image if only part of it is of interest.
Google Chrome users who regularly create screenshots of web pages should take a closer look at the WebPage ScreenShot extension.
Multi Links is one of our favorite Firefox extensions of all time. It allows Firefox users to open multiple links, images or other elements on a website by drawing a rectangle around them.
Chrome’s Download Selection is a similar extension. It offers a better selection process, giving up some of the one click comfort of Multi Links in the process.
Instead of drawing a rectangle around the items it turns the web page into a darker tone which indicates selection modus. Here the Chrome users can draw rectangles across elements to open them all at once.
The main difference is that it is possible to draw multiple rectangles on screen, The extension will automatically highlight the items that have been selected so far.
Pressing Enter on the computer keyboard will open all selected items in new browser tabs. Very helpful to display all images that are shown on a screen, download multiple files at once or open several links in new tabs after they have been selected.
Holding down the ALT key while selecting items removes them from the list of elements that are opened when the Enter key is pressed. This is useful if elements have been highlighted by error or if some items in between should not be opened.
Download Selection works with links and media elements. It sometimes has problems recognizing items on the page and does not seem to work on https websites or sites that use frames.
Chrome users can download the latest version of the extension directly from the Google Chrome Extension repository. Those who prefer something similar to Multi Links instead can take a closer look at Linky.
Google employee Blair has posted a list of software applications that are known to crash the Google Chrome web browser. Among the list popular applications such as PPLive, Nvidia NTune, SpeedBit Video Accelerator or Folder Guide.
The suggested course of action is to temporarily disable the program to see if it resolves the crashes.
Google has also identified workarounds for some applications that are incompatible with Google Chrome if they are run in their default startup setting.
If you have Internet Download Manager (IDM), disable the ‘Advanced browser integration’ option within IDM (go to Options > General).
If you have NVIDIA Desktop Explorer, try removing the nvshell.dll http://www.spywareremove.com/security/how-to-remove-dll-files/
If you have FolderSize, try the fix on this site: http://sourceforge.net/tracker/?func=detail&aid=2900504&group_id=127365&...
If you have NOD32 version 2.7, upgrade to the latest version of NOD32 or disable internet monitoring in NOD32 2.7.
Finally malware has also been identified as known causes for Google Chrome crashes.
If you follow popular tech blogs like Techcrunch or Download Squad you may have noticed teaser posts about Google Chrome Web Apps, a new feature that the Chromium and Google Chrome developers have been developing for some time.
Google’s plan is to offer Chrome Web Apps in the new Chrome Web Store launched later this year. They are free and paid apps that Chrome users can install in the web browser.
Chrome Web Apps are listed in the extension manager of the browser and there are only a few differences currently between extensions and Chrome Web Apps.
Installed Chrome Web Apps are displayed by default on the new tab page where they can be easily accessed, providing that only a handful of them are installed on the computer system.
Integrating the Flash plugin and a pdf reader in Google Chrome has been a controversial move. Some users liked the idea as it allowed them to access contents without having to install the necessary plugins first, others feared the worst, that Google would lack behind in updating the plugins whenever a security update would be issued by Adobe.
But the fear is only one side of the medal. Users who are careless about the installed plugins are benefiting immensely from the internal plugins. They personally do not have to follow the latest security announcements to update their plugins the second a new update is issued, Google does that for them.
Chrome users who prefer not to use the internal plugins can disable them easily.
The Chrome developers have added another powerful weapon to the web browser; Plugin controls that can be used to allow plugins only on whitelist domains, trusted domains that the user added to the browser.
The plugins will simply not work on other websites if configured correctly. That’s beneficial to users who need Flash or another plugin on a handful of sites only.
Google does not stop here, several interesting additions to Chrome’s plugin handling have been announced at the official Chromium Blog.
Google Chrome will protect the users from outdated plugins. It will simply refuse to run them and aid the user in updating the plugins so that they can be used again in the web browser. It is not clear how the plugin database will be maintained, it is however unlikely that all plugins available worldwide are listed in it. It is likely that the most popular plugins are maintained in the database.
Protection from out-of-date plug-ins: Medium-term, Google Chrome will start refusing to run certain out-of-date plug-ins (and help the user update).
A second interesting feature is the ability to warn users of plugins that have been infrequently used in the past. Some plugins are installed by software or the user and never used in the web browser. Chrome will warn the user about those plugins so that they can be deactivated in the plugin manager.
Warning before running infrequently used plug-ins: Some plug-ins are widely installed but typically not required for today’s Internet experience. For most users, any attempt to instantiate such a plug-in is suspicious and Google Chrome will warn on this condition
Those two additions can be very helpful and it is likely that other browser developers will offer those features in their browser eventually as well. Mozilla has already started to inform users about outdated plugins during updates.
Last.fm is one of the most popular music portals on the Internet. It offers a wealth of information about bands, musicians, concerts and everything else music related. A popular feature is the ability to play songs directly on the website. Individual songs can be played directly in the web browser. Some songs are offered as 30 second snippets while others are available fully.
A playlist option however is not available on those pages, only the ability to play songs of the artist in the Radio on site.
The Google Chrome extension Last.fm Free Music Player improves the listening experience on Last.fm. It will automatically intercept clicks on play buttons on Last.fm. The page is scanned for music and all songs found on it are displayed in the player’s interface.
This works on all pages containing a play button to play songs.
The music player acts as a playlist on Last.fm. The music plays in the background and continues to play even if the Last.fm page is closed in the web browser.
The player offers basic controls that include controlling the volume, pausing playback, shuffling or repeating songs and scrobbling.
All songs that are played in the music player seem to be full length songs. We tested some songs in Internet Explorer and Chrome without the extension installed and noticed that they were cut after 30 seconds. The same songs were offered as full length songs in the Last.fm Free Music Player.
That alone should be reason enough to use the music player when playing songs on Last.fm.
The ability to play full length songs, the playlist feature and the fact that music can be played in the background make Last.fm Free Music Player an ideal player for Last.fm users. Google Chrome users can download the extension directly from the Google Chrome Extensions gallery.
Google Chrome can be configured to save the browsing session on close so that the user can continue the session on the next startup. All websites and services that had been open in tabs are reopened on the next browser start. It sometimes happens that Google Chrome cannot open a website, displaying a dreaded “Oops! Google Chrome could not connect to” error instead.
Strange if the site was working fine some time ago. Users who check the website in another browser installed on the system would find out that the page loads and displays fine in that browser which leads to the only possible conclusion that it is a Google Chrome problem.
Google and Adobe have integrated a native Flash plugin into the Google Chrome browser. This integration offers two benefits and one disadvantage to computer users. An integrated Flash plugin means that the user does not need to install Flash on the PC anymore. It is also beneficial as the updating of the plugin happens in the background without having to be initiated by the user.
The disadvantage is a delay between the release of a new version of Adobe Flash and the integration of that version as a native plugin in Google Chrome. No information have been posted by the Chrome developers about a possible delay but tests during the Adobe Flash 10.1 release a few days ago showed that it took some time before Google Chrome was updated.
Another question that came up was if there was a way to check if the latest Adobe Flash Player (public release) version was installed in the Google browser. Chrome displays the Flash version on the about:plugins page in the browser. Adobe on the other hand does not seem to be providing the full version of the latest Adobe Flash Player release on their website, at least not anywhere near the download of the plugin.
The best way to check is to use the Plugin Check over at Mozilla. The web service displays the discovered plugins, their version and if they are up to date.
The green up to date button indicates that the plugin is indeed the latest version of Adobe Flash Player. One question remain: How long does it take the Chrome developers to update the native Flash plugin after Flash has been updated?