Chrome experimental features are hidden for a reason but that doesn’t mean end-users can’t utilize some of them for their benefit. Most beneficial Chrome Flags are already enabled in Beta and Canary builds, but you can enable them in the stable version most of us use. They significantly enrich the browsing experience on both computers and mobile devices. Learn more about Google Chrome and its experimental features below.
What are Chrome Flags?
Chrome Flags are hidden experimental features that are in development and, at least some of them, are on their way to the stable version of Chrome. They are a diverse mix of works in progress presented by developers and tackle some UI changes for enhanced browsing experience, browser aesthetics, or performance improvements.
Since Chrome is perpetually updated on a regular basis, developers can’t add a plethora of new features immediately to avoid breaking the essential functionality for millions of users. So, they keep them locked under flags until decided otherwise.
We reckon that the focus is to keep Chrome as fast and as reliable as possible on all platforms and adding new features can result in stability issues. Still, there are definitely a dozen or so flags that you should consider enabling. But, first, let’s explain how to access Chrome Flags.
How to access Chrome Flags?
To access Chrome Flags on your PC, Chromebook, or Android/Apple devices, and explore the myriad of experimental features, type the following line in the address bar:
Just hit Enter to open the Experimental menu where you should see a long (probably confusing) list of all available experimental features a.k.a. Chrome Flags.
You’ll see a short explanation of each flag and their status. By default, all experimental features are disabled. You should also see the Unavailable tab where the non-supported flags reside. These features are not available on the platform you are currently using.
If you want to enable certain flag, just click or tap on the drop-down menu to the right of the flag and select Enabled. There’s a search bar at the top from where you can search for flags. For your convenience, we linked all mentioned flags so you can open them as long as you’re accessing this article from Chrome.
How to unblock Chrome Flags?
If you don’t have access to Chrome Flags, keep in mind that certain enterprise policies forbid changes to Google Flags due to apparent security and stability concerns.
The same goes for Family Link accounts for kids. There are some flags that might compromise security or privacy of your kid so supervised accounts don’t have access to features like these.
What Chrome Flags should I enable?
This is the real question. Most flags are not particularly useful, and some might outright cause issues but there’s a dozen or so Chrome Flags you should enable to enrich your browsing experience.
The ones that first come to mind that cover UI and functionality:
- Reading Mode – Enables the Reading Mode feature which generates a reader-friendly view of web pages. Open the side panel and select Reading Mode to try the feature. The side panel toggle in Chrome is just next to your Account photo at the top right corner. Once you choose it, select Reading mode from the drop-down menu.
- Smooth Scrolling – Animate smoothly when scrolling page content. It adds a bit more smoothness to scrolling. Not all that noticeable but you can give it a try.
- Auto Dark Mode for Web Contents – Automatically render all web contents using a dark theme. There are multiple inversion options but it’s the best to stick to Enabled. It got better over the years and, if you prefer all web content in the dark mode, this is a perfect Chrome Flag for you.
- Show Autofill Predictions – Annotates web forms with Autofill field type predictions as placeholder text. Although most users have Autofill information stored in Chrome, Autofill option won’t appear on some websites automatically. This Chrome Flag fixes that and if you start typing some related information in forms (name, surname, postal address…), the Autofill suggestion will appear.
- Password filling across grouped websites – Enables password filling across grouped websites. This Chrome Flag unifies affiliated services. Like with websites that offer mobile and desktop content (e.g., m.facebook.com and facebook.com).
What flags to change to speed up Chrome?
On the other hand, besides UI and functionality flags, there are some under-the-hood experimental features you should consider.
Important: The flags recommendations below are for PC users and some of them might work on Android/iOS. However, don’t enable performance flags on Chrome OS. Some of them might render your machine unusable.
Here are some flags you should enable in order to speed up Chrome:
- Back-forward cache – Caches eligible pages after cross-site navigations. If you avoid opening new tabs and often navigate back and forth between multiple websites, this flag will make the loading faster.
- GPU Rasterization – Use GPU to rasterize web content. This flag is especially useful if you have a powerful GPU which Chrome can use for hardware rasterization. This will improve Chrome performance marginally.
- Override software rendering list – Overrides the built-in software rendering list and enables GPU-acceleration on unsupported system configurations. This flag forces hardware acceleration even on the incompatible configurations for the sake of improving web-browsing performance.
- Experimental QUIC Protocol – Improves browsing speeds by replacing the standard TCP protocol with the experimental QUIC protocol. This should reduce latency and improve browsing speeds.
- Parallel Downloading – If you are downloading large files in Chrome, this feature will split them into different parts and download them parallelly. This should speed up the download process substantially.
How to disable Chrome Flags?
But what if something goes wrong and you want to disable one or multiple Chrome Flags? You can just track back and disable them the same way you’ve enabled them.
Users can disable Chrome Flags under the same Experimental menu. Just navigate to chrome://flags, search for the flag you want to disable, and disable it from the drop-down menu. Relaunch Chrome and that should do it.
On the other hand, if you want to disable all flags, you can undo all changes with a simple reset.
How to reset Chrome Flags?
To reset Chrome Flags to default values and virtually disable all of them, you just have to select Reset all button next to the search bar in the chrome://flags menu. After you relaunch Chrome, all the enabled flags and their respective effects will be disabled.
If you still see some changes, close Chrome and reopen it once more. That should do it. Feel free to share your thoughts, questions, or suggestions with us and other readers in the comments section below. Thank you for reading and we look forward to hearing from you.