Google Chrome is a favourite among power users in no small part due to its innovative experimental features (many of which are eventually integrated into the stable browser). For our final instalment of the best of Google Labs, we’re taking a look at the best experimental, advanced features you can add to Google Chrome.To enable any of these Chrome Labs (or at least what we’re calling Chrome Labs — they’ve changed the name in the past, and currently they’re “flags” or “experimental features”), type
about:flags into Chrome’s address bar, click the Enable link below any feature you want to try out, and then relaunch your browser.
Note that there are different Chrome Labs available for Mac and PC versions of Chrome, along with different available features in the regular Chrome build, Chrome dev, Chromium and Canary builds, which can make it all a bit confusing if you’re a cross-platform person who likes to play with the different browser options. Nevertheless, here are our six favourite Chrome Labs that you can enable now to enhance your browser (along with which OS and build each feature supports).
Side Tabs (Windows; All builds)
Tab Overview (Mac; All builds)
Focus existing tab to open (Windows, Mac; All builds)
If you work in multiple tabs and/or browser windows, there’s a decent chance you might open a site more than once and not realise it. This Lab helps prevent duplicate tab opening: if you type in an address that’s already opened in another tab, Chrome will redirect the focus to the open tab rather than loading the page again.[imgclear]
Print Preview (Windows, Mac; Regular Chrome)
Click to Play (Windows, Mac; All Builds)
Add grouping to tab context menu (Windows; Canary/Dev/Chromium)
There are other Chrome Labs that are very promising but a little buggy or a bit niche. These include:
- Multiple Profiles (Windows, Mac; Canary/Dev/Chromium): Will eventually allow you to open browser windows logged in with different Google profiles (a boon for those of us who use Gmail, etc, for both work and personal reasons or who share computers). However, this one’s not quite ready yet.
- Compact Navigation (Windows; Canary/Dev/Chromium): Hides the omnibar. Useful if you really need more space.
- Experimental new tab page (Windows, Mac; Canary/Dev/Chromium): A peak at what the new tab page may look like soon in Chrome. Available in Canary (Windows and Mac), this view has a menu at the bottom and lays out your most visited pages, apps — as well the very experimental “foo” and “bar”.
These are just six labs we really like, and have a wider appeal, but you’ll find more experimental features that you can enable by entering about:flags in the address bar. Share your favourites — whether we mentioned them or not — in the comments.