Believe it or not, Google Chrome has a hidden menu that allows you to enable experimental features, many of which can improve performance and usability.
Of course, they can be buggy which means they’re technically not ready for mainstream use — exactly why Google devs have hidden them away.
The functions are referred to as “flags” or Chrome Flags, but really they’re nothing more than hidden developer settings — much like you find in Android.
How to Access Chrome Flags
Finding the hidden settings page is actually quite simple. All you need to do is type chrome://flags in the address bar — with the browser open, obviously — and then press Enter or Go.
This works on all versions of Chrome, including desktop, Android and even Chromebook.
You’ll know you’re on the right page immediately because there’s a big Experiments header and below that a warning in red that you can break your experience by enabling some of the flags.
The Available tab shows flags that can be used on your particular device. The Unavailable tab shows flags that cannot be used but are available if you were using another platform, like Chrome for desktop.
To find a specific flag:
- On desktop, press CTRL + F and type in the name of the flag you want to find
- On mobile, tap the menu button in the top right (three dots) and choose Find in Page
- You can also use the search field at the top of the page
Note: Anytime you make changes in the Flag menu, a notification will appear letting you know they’ll take effect upon a restart. Simply click the Relaunch Now button to activate them.
Here are the best Chrome Flags available on Android that will improve your browsing experience:
1. Increase Download Speeds
A method called parallel downloading opens several connections to download the same file, similar to how a torrent works.
Collectively, the multiple streams are able to acquire the download data faster than a single stream, and it’s assembled in real-time to provide a finished package.
Chrome actually has a flag that will enable this function, significantly speeding up your downloads on mobile. It won’t make much of a difference with smaller size files, but when you’re downloading large packages it’s a game-changer.
To turn on the function, either scroll down or search for the Parallel downloading flag, tap the dropdown and select Enable.
2. Touch Video Controls
On Android and mobile devices, touchscreens can help improve the experience by offering gesture-based and unique controls.
Most video players on mobile utilize this to offer quick access. For instance, in YouTube or Netflix you can simply tap anywhere on the screen to pause playback.
In the Chrome browser, however, many of these controls are disabled by default. You cannot pause media by tapping, nor can you skip tracks by double-tapping on either side of the screen.
Luckily, there is a flag to remedy this.
To turn video controls on, search or navigate to the New Media Controls flag, tap the dropdown, and select Enable.
3. Change Chrome Download Location
By default, there’s no way to change the location or directory where the Chrome browser downloads files. It’s certainly frustrating for anyone who likes to manage this on their own.
You can change this, easily, in the flags menu.
Navigate to or search for Enable downloads location change, tap the dropdown, and select Enabled.
A new option will appear in the Chrome settings menu that allows you to specify a new downloads directory. To change, go to Settings > Downloads > Download Location.
4. Offline Bookmarks
What if you could still access your favorite websites in your browser, even when there’s no internet connection? You can actually do this in Chrome without installing a third-party app.
Navigate to or search for the Enable offline bookmarks flag, tap the dropdown, and select Enable.
After it’s enabled Chrome will take any bookmarks you save and download the necessary content for offline viewing, in the background.
5. Turn Reading Mode On Permanently
On certain sites, Chrome will give you the option to turn on something called Reading Mode that minimizes distractions and places emphasis on text. It removes both formatting and ads to make for a better reading experience — as the name implies.
But in Chrome Flags, you can turn this setting on permanently so that it always displays when available.
Navigate to or search for Reader Mode triggering, tap the dropdown and then select Enable.
6. Horizontal Tab Switcher
By default, when you tap the open tabs icon in Chrome all windows open vertically down the screen. You can actually swap the orientation so they open horizontally instead.
Navigate to or search for Enable horizontal tab switcher, tap on the dropdown and select Enable.
7. Mute Sites by Tab
In Chrome for desktop, one of the most useful features appears after right-clicking an open tab. You can actually mute an entire site or tab through this context menu.
It’s great for when you need to be quiet, which likely happens a lot when you’re using your mobile device.
You can turn on something similar for Chrome on Android.
Navigate to or search for Sound content setting, tap the dropdown and select Enable. Now, you can access a sitewide mute option in content settings, and the tab strip context menu.
8. Custom Image Context Menu
There’s a more expansive context menu available when long-pressing on images or videos. Unfortunately, it’s disabled by default.
To turn it on, navigate to or search for Enable custom context menu, tap the dropdown and select Enable. Now when you long-press on media you’ll find a couple extra settings that make downloading and management much easier.
9. Clear Old Browsing Data (30 Days)
By default, Chrome only allows you to purge browsing data by specific date and time ranges, including 24 hours, 7 days, 4 weeks, or all time. But there is a flag to add an extra option: 30 days.
To turn it on, navigate to or search for Clear older browsing data, tap the dropdown and then choose Enable.
When you next visit the clear browsing data menu — under Settings > Privacy > Clear browsing data — you’ll see the option to clear anything older than 30 days now available.
10. Enable QUIC
QUIC protocol is an experimental, mesh connection protocol created by Google. It uses a combination of TCP and UDP protocols for both faster and more secure browsing.
It’s not quite ready for primetime yet, however, so it’s disabled by default.
To turn this on, navigate to or search for Experimental QUIC protocol, tap the dropdown and select Enable.
You should notice a slight boost in performance, particularly during page loads.
The Flags listed here offer minor usability and performance improvements, but they are also experimental which means they may break things from time to time.
If you notice more problems after turning on a particular feature, just open the Chrome Flags menu and turn it off again.
In addition, many Flags are eventually added to the main fork or version of Chrome as a regular function. It means that eventually, one or more of these flags may no longer exist.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to respond in a timely manner.