When you enable Chrome flags, you get access to hidden Chrome features like Reader Mode, Force Dark Mode, and plenty more besides. And best of all, it’s super simple to do!
New versions of Google’s Chrome browser drop pretty regularly but before they become official they have to go through A LOT of testing. This is done with beta builds. But how do normal people – like you and me – get early access to beta build of Chrome?
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Simple: you have to enable Chrome Flags – and doing this is actually really easy, as you’ll see below. What are Chrome Flags? When new features are added to Chrome, but are not yet live, Google hides them behind Flags. Enabling Flags in Chrome gives you access to these new features in your browser.
To Access Chrome Flags, Simply Type “chrome://flags” Into The Chrome Browser
Of course, features that are hidden by Flags in Chrome are not designed or ready for the prime-time. They might not work or, worse still, they might negatively impact your machine’s performance. As always, be mindful when you’re messing around with beta features – they’re in beta for a reason.
How To Turn on Chrome Flags
We’ll know go through the simple steps of enabling Chrome Flags in Google’s Chrome browser. Please note: this method works on ALL types of Chrome browser – from Windows, Mac, and Linux to iPad, iOS, and Android.
- STEP 1 – Open the Google Chrome Browser, go to the URL bar and type in chrome://flags and hit enter.
- STEP 2 – Hitting enter after typing “chrome://flags” into the navigation bar will open a new window, “Experimental”, and this window is divided into two parts: Available and Unavailable
- STEP 3 – Scroll through the list and find what you’re looking for. Once you’ve found the feature you’re looking for, select the drop down menu next to it (it usually says DEFAULT) and select ENABLED. This will enable Flags for this option.
- STEP 4 – Once you’ve enabled your desired Flags in Chrome’s Experimental Mode, you’ll need to restart the browser. Once you’ve restarted the Chrome browser, all of the new features will be available to use.
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You can enable as many flags as you want inside Chrome’s Experimental Mode but you will be required to restart the browser before any of them take effect. And to restart the Chrome browser simply type chrome://restart into the browser and hit enter. Chrome will not restart and reopen once it is done rebooting.
Best Chrome Flags To Enable?
If you’re new to Flags in Chrome, or you just want some guidance on what new Chrome features to try out, here’s a selection of awesome Chrome Flags to try with your newly acquired developer status.
- Reader Mode – Apple’s Safari has had reader mode since forever. But you can unlock this feature in Chrome, simply by enabling the Flag for Reader Mode. With Reader Mode enabled, your web pages will be stripped of everything save for the text and images. No more ads, pop-ups, or silly CSS to look at.
- Focus Mode – With Focus Mode enabled in Chrome, all new windows that are opened with open without the search bar or bookmarks for a cleaner-looking browser experience.
- Tab Groups – With Tab Groups, you can group together similar pages inside one tab, so you could have a News Tab that contains all your regular news sites, for instance. I love this feature, as it basically kills the need to have so many tabs open.
- Force Dark Mode – With Force Dark Mode for Chrome enabled, it will load ALL web pages in dark mode, regardless of whether the site supports it or not.
- Tab Hover Cards – With Tab Hover Cards, a small preview of the site is loaded when you hover your mouse of its tab. This feature is great for anyone that likes to run LOADS of tabs at the same time.
- Page Sharing Via QR Codes – With this feature enabled, you can quickly share webpages using QR codes instead of a text link.
These are just a few of the best, hidden features currently available inside Google’s Chrome browser. There’s plenty more, though, so make sure you spend some time looking at what is available under Chrome’s Flag options.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.