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How the Google Chrome Browser Works


Other Useful Features in the Chrome Browser
Look for this character lurking next to your browser tabs to confirm you're using an incognito window in Chrome.
Look for this character lurking next to your browser tabs to confirm you're using an incognito window in Chrome.
Stephanie Crawford for HowStuffWorks.com

Chrome's simple interface doesn't mean it's lacking in features. To see what else the Chrome browser has to offer, let's start with some of the things you'll find in the Settings menu:

  • New tab/New window -- These are options you'd also see in other browsers. In Chrome, you can also turn an existing tab into a new window just by dragging the tab outside the current browser window.
  • New incognito window -- If you want to prevent pages you're browsing from setting cookies or being stored in your browsing history, open them in an incognito window. The incognito window looks just like the main Chrome browser except that it has a silhouette icon of someone in a trench coat and fedora to the left of the row of tabs. Chrome also disables extensions in incognito windows.
  • Zoom and Full Screen -- You can adjust the size of the content in your Web browser by zooming in ("+") and out ("-"), and you can return the page to its normal size by selecting "100%" between them. You can also zoom in and out by holding down Control and pressing the =/+ and - keys. Use the block to the right of this zoom bar to go into full screen mode, and press F11 to exit full screen.
  • Bookmarks manager/History -- These are options you'd also see in other browsers. Be sure to remember some of the tips that you read about earlier when managing bookmarks.
  • Downloads -- Chrome has a built-in download manager. For each new download, you can monitor the progress in a bar that appears at the bottom of the browser. When the download is complete, you can close this progress bar using the X at the far right. To view a complete record of downloads, use this "Downloads" menu option or use the link when the progress bar appears to "Show all downloads." You can use the "Clear all" link to clear the list, but note that anything saved to your computer will still be taking up space in your default downloads folder.
  • Options/Preferences -- The name of this selection is different depending on which operating system you're using to run Chrome. It opens a browser tab with a menu on the left and a set of adjustable browser preferences on the right for each menu item. Most of these preferences are similar to what you'd find in other browsers, but later we'll take a closer look at a couple of preferences which are unique to Chrome.
  • View background pages -- When you have Web pages open in your browser, each page may be running a series of processes even when you're not actively viewing that page. Use this option to open a small window where you can monitor how much of your RAM and CPU is being used by the background processes associated with the browser and each tab you have open.

In addition to these options, you'll also see a few unique items in the "Tools" submenu. The "Task Manager" is equivalent to the "View background pages" option, and "Clear browsing data" and "View source" are common to most Web browsers. The remaining choices relate to things we're about to cover on the next page: extensions, applications and developer tools.