The Chrome browser for Android can be downloaded, as is well known, from Google’s Play Store: it is the most downloaded ever because, on the basis of the agreements signed between the company of Mountain View and the hardware manufacturers (OEM), it is often pre-installed in the official ROMs.
To surf the net from your mobile device Google Chrome for Android is obviously not the only choice: in the article Android Browser: what are the alternatives to choose we presented some alternative products.
This time, however, we want to focus on Google Chrome for Android and present the lesser-known features of the browser, often very useful on mobile devices.
To Use Google Chrome For Android You Don’t Need To Log in
Many users after downloading Google Chrome, at the first run of the application assume that you need to login with your user account to use your web browser.
It is true that on Android devices you usually set up at least one Google user account to access the Play Store and all the other apps of the company founded by Page and Brin. Accessing Google Chrome for Android with your account, however, is not necessary.
If you did, the list of websites visited with an Android smartphone or tablet would be shared with all other devices (including desktops and notebooks), including passwords, favorites and much more.
Sharing information managed by Google’s web browser on all devices may not be exactly what you want, also because the data will be sent overseas stored on the company’s cloud servers: to learn more, we suggest reading the article Sync Chrome, what it means to access data from multiple devices.
Get a List of Open Tabs in Google Chrome for Android
To the right of the address bar of Google’s Android browser, a small square is shown with a number inside: it indicates how many tabs have been opened.
New tabs open when you tap a link in a web page set to open the target page in a new browser tab or when you select the button depicting three dots in the column (top right) and choose New tab.
Touching the small square, Chrome for Android will show a preview of the open tabs: with a simple swipe to the left or right, the individual tabs (even if not displayed in the foreground) can be closed.
By typing chrome://flags in the address bar, searching for switchers and then activating (Enabled) the Accessibility Tab Switcher setting, you can replace the tab preview with a list. Also in this case, with a swiping to the left or to the right (or touching the “X”) you can close the various tabs. Selecting Reopen the closed tab again will display the contents of a tab that was closed by mistake.
Copy the URL of the Website you are Visiting
To copy and then paste elsewhere the address of the site you are visiting in Google Chrome for Android just hold down on the URL displayed in the top bar and then choose Copy.
Alternatively, you can access Chrome’s main menu (button depicting three dots in the column), tap the “i” icon then hold down on the address displayed at the top of the screen. The browser will show the message “URL copied” at the bottom.
Add a Link to Any Website on the Home Screen
If you’re used to consulting a website or web application often, you can open it directly from the Android Home screen.
To proceed, simply go to the Chrome main menu (button with three dots in the column) and choose the Add to Home screen item. After you assign a name, the icon will appear on the Android Home screen along with the Chrome icon to confirm that it is a shortcut.
Save a Web Page as a PDF File
From Google Chrome for Android you can also store any web page as a PDF file.
Just download and install the Google Cloud Print app (we talked about it in the article How to print with Android: the best apps), go to the Chrome menu, select the Share item from the list, tap the Print icon and choose Save to PDF.
Requesting a Desktop Version of the Website
Websites use the user agent or, in the case of responsive pages, the viewport to optimize the display of the site on mobile devices. In this way you can remove and reposition those contents that on mobile devices complicate the consultation of pages forcing even scrolling horizontally.
To request the display of any website in desktop mode, just access the main menu of Chrome and then tick the Desktop site box.
Clear the Browser Cache
Google Chrome for Android also uses its own cache in which the browser stores items already downloaded in the past while browsing online.
It can happen that after visiting some websites unwanted advertisements appear in full screen or that new tabs open completely useless.
This is often not due to the applications installed, but to the pages that have been opened in the past and the cookies stored on your mobile device.
To completely clear the cache (which often helps to solve this type of problem), you can access the main menu of Chrome, choose Settings, Privacy then Clear Navigation Data (last option in the list).
By choosing the Advanced tab, you can avoid deleting saved passwords or automatic form-filling data, which is often useful information.
Switching Between Tabs With a Simple Swipe
A trick that few know is that it allows you to quickly switch from one card to another by swiping to the left or right from the address bar of Chrome for Android.
Do not drag it to other points of the Chrome screen, but just act on the address bar of your browser.
Tap any Word to Search it With Google and Enable the new Context Menu
By tapping on any of the words shown on the website you are visiting, Chrome will make a small reference to the same term appear at the bottom of the screen.
By selecting it, Chrome for Android will perform a contextualized search by proposing websites that contain relevant information.
Similarly, by tapping a phone number, an address or an email, Chrome will offer to open the Android dialer, the browser or Google Maps, the email client.
By accessing the chrome://flags page and enabling the Enable custom context menu setting you will access many more possibilities by holding down on an image, on a link and so on.
How to use Google Chrome Developer Tools on Android
In Google Chrome for Android you don’t have a button equivalent to the F12 button on the desktop side and you can’t call up Google Developer Tools in any other way either.
Yet sometimes you see advertising or even phishing messages that have nothing to do with the website you’re visiting: the Developer Tools would help to shed light on the problem.