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How to Make Chrome the Best Browser for Your Phone

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Google doesn’t just want the Chrome browser dominating laptops and desktops of this world, it wants it on as many mobile devices as possible too. If you have Chrome installed on your iPhone or Android, there are a handful of ways you can make it even better than the default settings. Here’s how to make sure you’re getting the most from the Chrome browser on your mobile devices.

1) Cut down on your data usage


Chrome for Android has a very useful data saving mode you can find by tapping on the menu button (three dots), choosing Settings, and then Data Saver. Pages are compressed on Google’s servers before being loaded, though private HTTPS pages and pages loaded up in incognito mode are treated as normal. If you’re on a limited data plan it can come in very useful while you’re out and about, and you can see how much data you’ve saved.

2) Navigate the menu more quickly


There’s plenty of functionality in the mobile version of Chrome, but a lot of it’s hidden away on the menu (accessed by tapping on the three dots at the top). In the Android version of the app you can speed everything up by just a few milliseconds by pressing and holding on the menu button, then dragging down to the option you need, then releasing your finger. There’s an on-screen indicator to help guide you to the right option.

3) Set Chrome as the default browser on Android

You may well have a number of browsers installed on your Android phone, but it’s easy enough to make sure Chrome’s the one that opens by default whenever you tap on a link. From the Android Settings app, tap Apps then the cog button to the top right. Select Browser app and choose Chrome from the list if it isn’t already selected. Uninstalling all the other browsers on your device is another way of achieving the same end result.

4) Make better use of Google’s apps on iOS


If you’ve got several of Google’s other apps installed on your iPhone or iPad you can tell Chrome to open them for certain links rather than viewing the browser version (so the YouTube app opens for YouTube videos, Google Maps opens for map links, Gmail opens for new emails, and so on). To set this up, tap the menu button (three dots), then choose Settings, then pick Google Apps and toggle the switches for all the apps you want to use.

5) Enable zoom on all websites


You’ll often want to zoom in on sites to see everything more closely but some outdated or stubborn pages stop this from happening. To make sure zooming is always available, tap the menu button then choose Settings and Accessibility: you’ll notice the Force enable zoom toggle switch at the bottom (you can scale up the text size from the same screen). This is only on the Android version of Chrome though, there’s no such option on iOS.

6) Get the full desktop experience


There are probably going to be times when you want to view the full desktop version of a particular site rather than the responsive mobile version (maybe if something isn’t rendering properly on screen), and Google knows this. If you open up the Chrome menu on either Android or iOS there’s a Request Desktop Site button to make use of. On Android it’s actually a checkbox that you can keep on until you’re ready to turn it back.

7) Swipe between open tabs


After spending some time experimenting with different ways of managing tabs, Google seems to have settled on the toolbar icon as the best way of switching between various tabs (at least for now), but there’s another way to quickly jump from page to page. On both the Android and iOS versions of Chrome, you can press and hold and swipe on the address bar at the top of the browser screen to go from one tab to the next in order.

8) Carry on from the desktop


If you sign into your Google account in the mobile Chrome browser then you get access to everything from the desktop version too, including your browsing history and stored passwords. You can even pick up where you left off on a laptop or desktop, provided the tabs are still open on your computer Open up the app menu, tap Recent tabs, and all the recently opened and currently open Chrome tabs across all your devices are listed.

9) Enable the hidden reader mode


Chrome for Android features a hidden reader mode than strips out advertising and extraneous content from a page to leave you with just the core text and images. To enable it, enter “chrome://flags” in the URL bar, change the Reader Mode flag setting to Always, then relaunch the browser. Open up a suitable web page (with one main article on it), and you’ll see a Make page mobile-friendly button at the bottom that you can tap on.

10) Switch to Chrome Canary


Google has just pushed out a new Canary channel for Chrome on Android. As with the Canary edition of Chrome for the desktop, this is even more “bleeding edge” than the developer or beta channels, but if you don’t mind frequent and unstable updates in return for the very newest Chrome features then it’s worth a try. You don’t have to uninstall the standard Chrome app to use Canary, as they both run alongside each other well enough.