5 ways to speed up your Google Chrome browser

27 Jun 2016

If you feel the internet is constantly one sluggish whine of your computer away, continually frustrating your desires for immediacy, maybe Chrome is the problem.

The odds are that you browse the internet using Chrome – be that on mobile or desktop – and you likely get frustrated by its sluggishness. It looks cleaner than other browsers and the whole layout clearly appeals to the majority, but is that enough?

Google Chrome is the top dog of browsers throughout the world. The last figures showed it creep up above 60pc in terms of global market share (April 2016), with Firefox (15.6pc), Internet Explorer and Edge (15.5pc) and Safari, Opera and the rest (8.4pc) trailing way behind.

The problem with Chrome, though, is that it can put a serious strain on your computer’s processing capabilities. Open up one or two tabs and you’re fine. Once you get over the five-tab mark, though, (edging closer to ten) watch your computer grind to halt.

What can be done? Well, these easy steps should help.

Step 1: Look at your extensions

This is an absolute must. The longer you’ve been using Chrome, the more possibly needless extensions you’ve gathered along the way. They could be VPNs, tools for downloading torrents, communication apps or pretty much anything in between.

While they tend to trundle along fairly quietly in the background, often they are a drain on your computer’s performance.

First up, you should check what extensions you’re currently running. Go to Chrome’s options section (the three horizontal lines in the top right of your screen) and click ‘more tools’ and ‘extensions’.

This will open up a page that lists all the extensions you have on your machine. Go through them and filter out any you either don’t use or don’t remember downloading. These are needless. Untick the enabled box and, if you want, trash them.


Step 2: Disable plugins

Much like extensions – performing similar jobs – plugins can, once again, be a drain. When you first install Chrome it comes with certain plugins, and you may have gathered up a few more along the way.

A quick way to get to the plugins screen is typing ‘chrome://plugins’ into your URL bar. Again it should bring you through to a screen that’s pretty straightforward to understand.

Step 3: Embrace the prefetch, or not

Chrome has a nice tool built in called prefetch. Through this, Google’s monstrous AI tries to predict your behaviour in easy enough ways for you to understand – when you type search terms into the URL bar, for example, or even a bit beyond that like preloading pages before you choose to go to them.

This can be a time saver for you so, if processing power is not an issue, go to settings, then click ‘show advanced setting’ and, under the privacy tab, click the box ‘use prediction service to load pages more quickly’.


If, however, you think Chrome is struggling, untick this box. Simples.

Step 4: Close your tabs

This is quite simple. No browser takes up such a share of your computer’s processing power quite like Chrome, with each tab an additional weight on your machine.

If you’re the type of internet user that enjoys keeping tens of tabs open, there’s no way your computer has steered clear of the strain this long. It must be telling.

So try manage your tabs better. Close those you actually don’t need open. For communication tools, try downloading the app rather than logging in on Chrome.

Step 5: Hey big suspender

If closing off tabs is too alien to you, there are some clever options out there, extensions that can streamline your browser experience without you even noticing. The Great Suspender, or Tab Suspender, extensions for example.

They’re quite clever, freezing tabs you’re not using and stopping them from continually clogging up your computer. It’s timed so that if you haven’t looked at six of your open tabs after a while, the extension kicks in and puts them to sleep.


Chrome image via Roman Pyshchyk/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic