The Google Chrome browser is the most popular browser for all uses, including phones, tablets, desktop PCs, and laptops. Why do people love this free browser? In addition to being incredibly stable and reliable, it offers leading security and anti-phishing protection plus a wide storefront of compatible productivity and creative apps.
When you download Chrome on any device, you also get access to the following cool perks:
- You can toggle between multiple user profiles on one computer login and sync across all devices
- Untrackable browsing is available with “incognito mode”
- Tabs are easily manipulated and restored with a variety of shortcuts and hacks
- Cast your screen to other devices as a second display
- Secure passwords, credit card information, and contact info fields are easily created and stored with form-filler technology
Getting started with Google Chrome is easy. Read on to join the more than 60% of internet users  who have made it their pick for better browsing and a more rewarding experience on any device.
What is Google Chrome?
First created in 2008 for the Windows operating system, Google Chrome is commonly referred to simply as “Chrome.” The browser is now available for most operating systems, including iPhones, either through a direct download or via the app store.
Chrome works with tabs so that you can perform multiple web functions at one time. Its compatibility with other Google services has inspired several other devices, too, including Chrome OS, Chromecast, Chromebook, Chromebit, Chromebox, and Chromebase.
5 cool ways to use Google Chrome
After you spend some time with Chrome, you’ll no doubt have your own unique ways to use it, but there are some features that are unanimously popular. Here are the most noteworthy perks of this popular browser.
1. Toggle between Google users from one device
While you can only log in to one Google Chrome profile in each browser window at a time, you can have several windows open at once. Each window can be logged in as a different Google Chrome profile with access to individual YouTube subscriptions, browsing history, saved passwords, Gmail, and more. There’s no need to re-log in or log out each session.
To activate this feature, do the following:
1. Open a Google Chrome window logged in to the first person you want to browse as
2. Click on your photo or avatar in the upper-right corner of the browser bar
3. Select “manage people”
4. Select “add person,” and fill out the login info for the profile you want to access
5. You’ll now see a second browser icon at the bottom of your screen with the avatar for that person
6. The original browser window should still be open, with the original profile avatar overlay
You can click on each Chrome window at the bottom of the screen to work between profiles. After any profile window is closed, easily re-open it by clicking on your avatar in the upper-right browser bar and selecting the other profile you want to work in from the drop-down. Add as many members as you wish for easy access from either the top browser bar or bottom window icon.
2. Browse privately with Incognito Mode
Clearing your browsing history and associated cache is a smart way to free up memory space on your computer which helps it run faster. But what if you don’t want your history tracked at all? Incognito browsing is a neat feature of Google Chrome that prevents some of the tracking cookies and data features from following you when you browse. To activate it, click the three dots in the upper-right corner of your browser tab, and select “New Incognito Window.”
A new window will pop up with a black background on the tabs. Your browsing activity will not be saved to your Google profile and others who use the computer can’t see where you visited. Info entered into forms, along with passwords, will not be saved either. Cookies and site data will automatically be deleted when you close the window or exit Incognito Mode.
This feature is useful for when you don’t want to store your browsing data, but bear in mind that others may still see what you do online. This includes the network administrator at the school or company where you use the computer and your internet service provider. Downloads are saved to your computer while in Incognito Mode, as are bookmarks. To clear or delete these, you must manually remove them.
3. Make use of savvy tabs
Google isn’t the only browser to make use of tabs within a window, but it is the first to come up with so many effective shortcuts to using them. Some of the best tab hacks include:
- Open an accidentally-closed tab by right-clicking on any other tab and selecting “Reopen closed tab.” You can also press Ctrl+Shift+T for each closed tab until the one you want opens
- Close the tab you’re on by pressing Crtl+W
- Open a closed window by right-clicking on a new Chrome window and selecting “Reopen closed window”
- Find a tab among a number of open tabs quickly by typing the URL of the tab into the top bar, and selecting “Switch to this tab” when the option pops up
- Quickly switch to any tab by clicking Ctrl and the number of the tab you want to see. Numbers go from 1-9, starting left to right. If you aren’t sure which tab you need, start with 1, 2, 3, until you get to the tab you want to view
- See what each tab offers without clicking on it by simply hovering over the top of the tab with your mouse. The site name and information should pop up
- Drag and drop any tab by clicking on it and pulling it with your mouse. You can drag multiple tabs at once by clicking the Ctrl key and selecting all the tabs you want to drag. Once selected, move them as one group to wherever you want on the screen
If your computer is acting sluggish or pages are loading slowly, you may have too many tabs open at once. Google stores information to make your favorite websites load quickly, which also requires a large amount of memory when the browser is open.
If you have more than five tabs open, you haven’t restarted Chrome in a while, or you have tabs that won’t respond, close them all out and start fresh. You’ll be prompted to reopen all the tabs you had previously open during your last session. Decline this option if you don’t want to run into similar problems.
4. Cast your screen
A favorite feature of Chrome is that you can choose to “cast” a tab or your entire computer desktop to a wirelessly connected screen of your choice. Simply click the three dots in the upper right, then select “Cast…” You’ll be shown any device on your wireless network that is enabled for this function. Common devices include the Google-branded Chromecast device, which plugs into your TV’s HDMI port. Other choices include Roku-enabled TVs and other smart devices.
Casting also allows you to display your computer screen on devices from within Google apps and websites. While watching a YouTube video, look for the cast icon on the bottom of any video and click it to send it to the connected screen you choose. Use this feature to broadcast videos on a larger screen from your computer.
5. Create and save secure passwords, personal data, and more
It can be difficult to remember all of the passwords for your programs, bank accounts, and email servers. Why not let Google remember it for you via Chrome? Each time a login and password are entered from inside the browser, you’ll be prompted to save the combo for easy login next time.
Chrome saves this information securely within your Chrome profile, so you can only access it if you’re logged in as you. Now, whenever you log in to a site that you’ve previously saved the logon for, Chrome will populate the ID and password (shown as a hidden sequence) without you having to remember.
If you need to make a new password, Google Chrome can create one for you using an assortment of random letters, numbers, and symbols that meet high-security standards. Since it remembers this for you, you don’t need to try to write it down or commit it to memory. The passwords are saved across all devices that use your Chrome profile.
For people who fill out many forms during their work, school, or play, the automated form-filling feature is a timesaver. You can create a profile for forms in your Chrome browser by:
1. Clicking on the three dots in the upper-right-hand corner and selecting “Settings”
2. Scroll down the “Auto Fill” section of the page
3. Select “passwords,” “payments,” or “addresses and more” to fill in your info
Within the addresses section, you can pre-fill your contact info, phone, and mailing address for easier typing for any website accessed with Chrome. Make mailing packages, filling out lengthy Google forms, and shopping much easier with this info filled out for you.
You can also pre-fill credit card info, so you don’t have to save this info within your shopping profiles at retailer websites, which often get hacked. By saving it from your Chrome browser, you can click to fill out the credit card information. You just provide the CVV security number to complete your purchase. Google will not store this data.
Why do users love Chrome?
In addition to being completely free, Chrome is a user-friendly browser that easily syncs with popular Google services. Log in to your Chrome browser with your Google profile and you can instantly access your accounts in Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs, Calendar, and more. Google can save your activity and browsing history across all devices logged into your Chrome browser profile, too.
For example, if you visit a web page on your phone, you can then search for it in the history on your desktop. The wide variety of supported productivity apps also earn it high marks from users of all ages and professions.
How to download the Google Chrome Web Browser
To download Chrome to a PC or laptop, visit the Chrome website
and click the “download” button. From a mobile device, visit your applicable app store, and search for Chrome. Remember, a Google Chrome browser download should never cost you money.
If you are prompted to pay, it’s highly likely you’re not at the official Chrome download site. Make sure that the web address for the current page with the download starts with https://www.google.com/chrome/
How to set Google Chrome as your default browser
To consistently use the browser and have it open all your web applications, make it your default browser. Once you have downloaded the browser, launch it by clicking on the Chrome icon on your desktop. If you are not prompted to make it your default, simply click the three dots on the upper right-hand corner of any browser tab. Then select “Settings,” scroll down to the default browser, and select the box to indicate your choice.
To make Chrome your default browser on a mobile device, use your device settings app for your phone.
A secure time-saver
Using Google Chrome can add hours to your week in productivity, provided you understand all the features and regularly use the ones that are best suited for your needs. For those who use Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Blogger, or any other Google-owned technology, it makes even more sense. Google apps work seamlessly within Chrome, and it automatically syncs your workflows between devices and apps.
When it comes to the innovative features of the Chrome browser, Google seems to be listening. Bugs are frequently addressed, updates are rarely glitchy, and each new version provides a fresh, new set of features that build upon an already magnificent platform.
While some apps become unsupported with new upgrades, these are usually outdated programs or services that would become unstable or nonfunctional with time. Google works hard to keep the browser effective and applicable for developers and the apps they bring to the market.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.