Chrome secrets: Dig into Google's new browser

A handful of tips and tweaks to get the most out of Chrome

Using the <b>Google Chrome Options dialog</b>, you can tell Chrome to start up by reopening all the tabs you had open when you last closed the browser.

Using the Google Chrome Options dialog, you can tell Chrome to start up by reopening all the tabs you had open when you last closed the browser.

Use Chrome as a universal calculator and converter

The Omnibox has a nifty feature that you'll want to use -- it can perform calculations and convert between units of measurement, such as from inches to centimeters. To use the calculator, type in the calculation you want done into the Omnibox, such as 87 times 53 (or 87*53). You'll see the answer (4,611 in our example) appear in the drop-down list.

Similarly, to convert between units of measurement, type in the units and amount you want to convert, such as "8 kilometers in miles." You can also use abbreviations, such as "5 kg in oz."

Chrome performs this magic by using the same Google Calculator built into Google's search box. So if you use another search engine instead of Google as your default, the Calculator won't work. For an excellent guide to using the Google Calculator, see the Shortcut: Calculator page on the GoogleGuide site.

Launch Web sites in Chrome directly from Firefox

If you're a Firefox user who also wants to test out and use Chrome, here's a great way to get the browsers to co-exist: a Firefox extension that lets you launch any page in Chrome, from directly within Firefox. In fact, it will even let you tell Firefox to always open certain pages in Chrome -- for example, every time you type in the Gmail URL in Firefox, it can automatically open the site in Chrome instead.

First, go to the Open Websites in Google Chrome from Firefox add-on page. Then download the open-in-google-chrome.xpi file to your PC. After that, drag it into Firefox, and you'll launch the installation. Restart Firefox to complete the installation.

Once you do that, you need to configure the extension to work properly by telling it where to find the Chrome executable file. In Firefox, choose Tools --> Add-Ons and click the Options button in the Open in Google Chrome extension. The options page of the extension opens. Click the Browse button at the top of the page, and browse to the location for chrome.exe. In Windows XP, you'll find it in C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\, where username is your username. In Windows Vista, you'll find it in C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\.

If you want certain sites to always open in Chrome when you visit them, type in a site's URL in the box at the bottom of the screen and click Add. Then click OK.

From now on, if you're on a site in Firefox and want to view it in Chrome, right-click the page you're on and choose "View this page in Google Chrome." To open a link in Chrome, right-click the link and choose "Open Link in Google Chrome." And when you visit pages you've specified to be viewed in Chrome, they'll always open in that browser, without requiring you to take any action.

By the way, if you're a Firefox user who likes the look and feel of Chrome but don't want to switch to the beta, you can get a free extension called Chrome Package that makes Firefox look more like Chrome.

Use Chrome keyboard shortcuts

If you don't like to spend your time mousing around, Chrome has a full set of keyboard shortcuts, many of which are shared with other browsers. For a complete list, go to Google's Chrome keyboard shortcut page.

Search alternate sites from the Omnibox

This tip isn't exactly a secret, but it's just too useful to leave out. Anyone who uses Chrome knows that the Omnibox doubles as a search box. You set your primary search engine (Google by default) by right-clicking the Omnibox, selecting "Edit search engines," choosing a site from the list and clicking Make Default. But you can also use a nifty shortcut to do a quick search using any search engine you've previously used in Chrome.

Type the first letter or letters of the site's URL, such as "y" or "ya" for Yahoo, then press the Tab key. A Search site button like the one shown below appears. Type in your search query to search using that search engine.

There's a small gotcha to keep in mind with this trick: If you haven't already visited the Web site and done a search, the Search site button won't appear. But it should work for any site at which you've previously searched, as long as the site adheres to the OpenSearch standard.

To tell whether a site adheres to the standard, visit the site and do a search, then right-click the Omnibox and select Edit Search Engines. If the site you're on appears in the list in the Search Engines dialog, it does follow the OpenSearch standard. Only the search engines that appear in this list will be able to use the Tab key trick.

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Preston Gralla

Computerworld
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