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How to Enable Our Favorite Chrome 78 Features Right Now

Published by David Murphy via LifeHacker

The current version of Chrome Canary (version 78 of the browser) has a number of fun features worth exploring—or knowing about, at the very least, if you’d rather play with them when they arrive in a more stable version of the browser.

Wave goodbye to unnecessary context menu options

Let’s try an experiment. Right-click on any of the tabs at the top of your regular Chrome browser. See that big, beefy context menu and the 11 options—on my browser, at least—that you can pick from? When is the last time you really used this method to open a new tab, anyhow?

If Chrome’s developers have their say, then these options are getting pared down significantly in Chrome 78. In the Canary version of the browser, right-clicking on a tab goes from this:

Screenshot: David Murphy

To this:

While this isn’t the most monumental of changes, it at least shows that the browser’s developers are keen on keeping its UI lean and mean. (You can probably do even better with a few tweaks of your own.)

Find out if your passwords have gone bad

Screenshot: Google

Though this hasn’t appeared in the Chrome Canary version that I’m using—at least, I didn’t see it—reports have indicated that Google will automatically bake its Password Checkup extension into Chrome 78. If you’re eager to give it a try, you can go ahead and download the extension right now. When you type a username and password into a website, Google will alert you if they’ve appeared in any data breaches. If so, it’s time to change your credentials.

And, no, Google isn’t collecting your passwords:

“Password Checkup was built with privacy in mind. It never reports any identifying information about your accounts, passwords, or device. We do report anonymous information about the number of lookups that surface an unsafe credential, whether an alert leads to a password change, and the domain involved for improving site coverage.” 

You can’t escape dark mode

If you’re browsing the web using Chrome’s dark mode, and a particular site you love only has an annoyingly bright theme, you can now have your browser craft up a dark theme of its own for the site. So this, for example:

Screenshot: David Murphy

Becomes something like this:

Screenshot: David Murphy

To enable this feature, type chrome://flags in your address bar and hit Enter. Search for “Force Dark Mode” and enable the option:

Screenshot: David Murphy

You can play with the more specific settings to fine-tune how Chrome creates a dark mode for your favorite sites. I find it easiest to just use “Enable” and be done with it—no need to waste too much time making everything dark and dreary.

Build your own Chrome theme

If you want to customize Chrome, but aren’t thrilled with other themes you’ve seen, you can create your own in Chrome 78. To get started, type chrome://flags in your address bar and hit Enter. Search for “ntp customization menu version 2,” and enable the option:

Screenshot: David Murphy

Then, do the same for “Chrome colors menu” and “Custom color picker for chrome colors menu.”

Restart your browser, pull up a new tab, and click on the “Customize” button in the lower-right corner. You’ll now be able to adjust the browser’s “color and theme,” which looks like this:

Screenshot: David Murphy

You can tweak how shortcuts appear on new tab pages (if at all):

Screenshot: David Murphy

Finally, you’ll be able to select what background you want to look at when you open a new tab page—and even have them rotate daily, if you pick one of Google’s curated options:

Screenshot: David Murphy