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Some cool Google Chrome hacks Part1

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Google's Chrome browser is fast becoming the geeks' choice, as users all over the world tinker with it and explore its deeper capabilities.

Not lacking essential functionality, Chrome is now proving that it can do everything: from starting in Incognito mode by default for better browsing safety to reverting to using a single process for all its tabs to conserve resources. It can even make the images on a web page swirl and dance around like crazy, if you fancy something different.

The range of useful modifications that you can make to get Chrome just how you want it is extremely diverse – made all the more expressive by its blindingly fast V8 JavaScript engine. From simple parameter changes to complex applets, here are 10 handy hacks to whip Chrome into shape.

1. Get more Omnibox suggestions

When you enter a search term into Chrome's Omnibox URL bar, it creates a pull-down list of suggestions for matching sites. However, this is limited to a maximum of five sitesby default, which is a bit restrictive. This hack lets you increase that number.

Right-click on the Chrome icon (even the one on the Windows Start menu) and select 'Properties'. In the resulting window, find the Target text box, add a space at the end of the line and the following text:

-omnibox-popup-count=30

This will extend the dropdown menu to 30 items, but you can change this to suit your needs.

2. Remove just your recent surfing history

The sites you've been visiting will be suggested in the browser's Omnibox. This can pose a problem if you share your PC with other people. If, for instance, you've been looking for a present for someone, it could spoil the surprise. You could clear the browsing data, but this will clear out everyone else's history, too. You could temporarily switch to Incognito mode to ensure that no search data is recorded, but if you forget, you have the same problem.

However, a small, free utility called Google Chrome Backup (GCB) by Pharelia Tools lets you create a backup of your browser's profile and restore it again later, thereby rolling back Chrome's search history to the point at which you backed it up. To use the utility, open its zip file, extract 'gcb.exe' and run the executable.

Using the program to cover your tracks is very simple. Before you begin surfing, press the 'Run Wizard' button. A second window will appear. Ensure that 'Backup' is selected and press 'Next'. Select the default profile and press 'Next' again. Browse for somewhere to place the backup of the default profile (a USB key, for example, on which you could also conveniently store GCB for use on public PCs), and press 'Back up'. The backup takes a second or two, but you'll have to close the window by hand.

After you've finished your confidential browsing session, to roll back the profile (thereby removing just your recent browsing history for this session), run GCB again; press the 'Run Wizard' button, select 'Restore' and press 'Next'. Browse for your saved file and press 'Next' again. Make sure that you're restoring to the default profile, press 'Next' again and finally hit the 'Restore' button. You'll be asked to confirm the procedure, after which the backup will be restored.

3. Use Stumbleupon

Stumbleupon is a great service for generating ideas or simply wasting an hour or two finding cool things. There's no plug-in for Chrome, but that's not a problem.

Right-click on the Bookmark bar and select 'Add page'. Give your new bookmark a suitable name – 'Stumble', for example – and enter the following JavaScript into the URL field:

javascript:window.location.href = 'http://www.stumbleupon.com/demo/#url';

When you want to use the site, simply hit this bookmark and the Stumbleupon homepage will open.

4. Read RSS feeds

One of the overwhelming disappointments about Chrome when it was released was its lack of an integrated RSS feed reader. Google seems to have assumed that everyone would use its standalone web-based Reader offering instead. Now, however, developer Ricardo Ferreira has written a script that conveniently sits behind a bookmark in the Bookmarks bar and allows users to read RSS feeds directly.

To prepare to use the script, in Chrome go to www.feeds.ramisp.org. Drag the piece of text that says 'Auto-Detect RSS' to the Bookmarks bar. This creates a bookmark containing a special JavaScript function.

Now surf to a site with an RSS feed. Press the Auto-Detect RSS bookmark and the site's main feed will open for you in the ramisp.org website. At the top of the page, you'll also see a range of options where you can subscribe to the feed using Yahoo!, Google, Pageflakes or Netvibes.

5. Explore Chrome's 'About:' pages

If you need to know what's going on deep inside Chrome, there's a special URL that you can use to get all the information you'll ever want about the browser and its performance.

In the Omnibox, enter the word 'about:' without the quotes but with the trailing colon. You should see some basic information about the browser's build, the V8 JavaScript engine and so on.

To see how well the browser's DNS pre-fetching system is currently working, enter 'about:dns' into the Omnibox and hit [Enter]. Pre-fetching is a technique used to speed up DNS domain resolutions. Beware, however, because until you close the browser – even if you think that you've cleared your browsing history – this DNS information remains, including the names of all the domains that have been pre-fetched.

For a demonstration of why it's a good idea to clear Chrome's cache completely, enter the URL 'about:cache'. The URLs of every page and every page element that the browser has ever cached will appear – and they're clickable. You would think that this data would be deleted when you clear the browsing data. However, if you select 'Clear browsing data...' on Chrome's Customise menu (the spanner icon), many people don't realise that the Time Period pull-down menu on the resultant pop-up is set to 'Last day' by default. Select the option to delete everything and the cache will clear completely.

For a bit of fun, try entering 'about:internets' and Chrome will run the Pipes screensaver inside itself. (If you're wondering what that's all about, it's a satirical reference to US Senator Ted Stevens' description of the internet as "a series of tubes".)

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8:03 PM

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