Gather ’round, kiddos — ’cause it’s time for a story.
Once upon a time, Chrome was a lean, mean browsing machine. It was the scrappy lightweight kid in a block filled with clunky old blobs of blubber. People had never seen a browser so fast, so thoughtfully constructed! It stripped everything down to the essentials and made the act of browsing the web both pleasant and secure — qualities that were anything but standard back in that prehistoric era.
Chrome was “minimalist in the extreme,” as The New York Times put it — with “extremely fast” page loads and a “snappy” user interface, in the words of Ars Technica. Its sandbox-centric setup and emphasis on supporting web-based applications made the program “the first true Web 2.0 browser,” as some other tech website opined.[ Become a Microsoft Office 365 administrator in record time with this quick start course from PluralSight. ]
Well, fast-forward to today, and the fairy tale is over: Eleven years have passed since Chrome’s debut, and the browser — just like that one college buddy of yours — has grown considerably less lithe. These days, in fact, Chrome has earned a bit of a reputation for being somewhat bloated and, thanks to all the third-party software associated with it, not always entirely secure. My, how things have changed.
Still, Chrome remains the de facto standard of modern web browsing, commanding a whopping 67% of the global market, according to recent data from analytics vendor Net Applications. And it has plenty of positives to offer, not least of all its tight integration with the rest of the Google ecosystem — a particular boon for G Suite users.[ Related: 10 ways to work better with G Suite ]
So whether Chrome’s feeling slightly too sluggish or you simply want to tighten up its security, take the time to go through these 10 steps. They’re all easy to pull off and free from any significant side effects — and together, they’re practically guaranteed to give your browser a much-needed fitness boost.
(Note that, except where specified, these tips revolve around the Chrome desktop browser and should work the same regardless of your operating system — even with Chrome OS, where the browser is built into the system software.
1. Clean up your apps and extensions
Chrome is basically its own platform at this point, and the apps and extensions that run within it can work wonders in customizing the browser and expanding its capabilities. But every single one of those add-ons requires a certain amount of resources to operate — and the more of ’em you have installed, the more bogged down and slothful Chrome can become.
Not only that, but many Chrome apps and extensions require access to at least some of your web browsing activity. That’s why periodically looking over your list of installed apps and extensions and clearing out any items you no longer need is one of the easiest and most effective ways to speed up your browser’s performance while simultaneously strengthening its security.
So type chrome:extensions into your browser’s address bar and carefully evaluate every app and extension you see. If there’s anything you don’t recognize or no longer need, click the Remove button within its box to get rid of it.
The more you can clear out, the better.
2. Put your remaining add-ons under the microscope
For any apps and extensions that you didn’t uninstall, look closely at what sort of access they’re claiming to your web browsing data — and whether they really need to be privy to that much of your activity.
Start once more by typing chrome:extensions into your browser’s address bar — but this time, click the Details button associated with each remaining app and extension, then look for a line labeled “Site access.” If you don’t see such a line, the add-on in question isn’t accessing any of your browsing data. Check it off your list and move onto the next one.
If an app or extension is listed as having access “on all sites,” meanwhile, it’s able to see and even modify what’s in your browser all of the time — without any restrictions. Stop and ask yourself if it genuinely needs that ability. If it doesn’t, switch its setting to either “on specific sites” or “on click,” depending on which setup seems to make the most sense. (If you choose “on specific sites,” you’ll then have to designate which specific sites the extension is allowed to access. If it’s an extension that modifies the Gmail interface, for instance, you might want to set it to operate only on mail.google.com.)