Top 10 Chrome Flags you should consider enabling in July 2021

Top 10 Chrome Flags you should consider enabling in July 2021

Google Chrome is one of the most popular browsers out there. It’s an excellent option whether you’re using a Chromebook, Android phone, Mac, or Windows PC. The stable version of Chrome is really good on its own, but for power users there are numerous tweaks you can add to suit specific needs.

If you like testing new features and don’t mind bugs, you may have already joined the Chrome OS Beta or Chrome OS Dev channel through your Chromebook’s settings menu. You can also use the Chrome Beta or Chrome Dev browser versions on other operating systems. These different versions give you an entirely different build of Chrome. But if you want to test just a few experimental features, Chrome Flags are where it’s at.

But that begs the question, what exactly is a Chrome Flag? Also, how do you know which of these flags are worth enabling? If you’re looking to find out all about Chrome Flags, you’re in the right place. We’ll take a look at what these flags are, what they can do, and how to enable them. We’ll also recommend some of our favorite flags to enable (on both Chrome OS and the Chrome browser) so you can start trying new features right away.

What is a Chrome Flag?

Chrome Flags are basically experimental features that Google is currently testing on either Chrome OS or the Chrome browser. It’s important to note some Flags are exclusive to Chrome OS, while others work on Chrome browsers across Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. Eventually Flags will be removed as they become part of either a stable Chrome release, or get absorbed into Chrome developer tools.

Once you enable a Flag, you need to restart your browser (or restart your machine if you’re on Chrome OS) for the change to take effect. You should realize that enabling Flags does carry some risk. Not all Flags are stable and may cause some unintended behavior with your browser or device. It’s also important to understand that browser-based Flags are not tested for online security protocols. This means you carry some security risk when conducting financial transactions online while using untested Chrome Flags.

If you run different versions of Chrome OS or Chrome browser, you can find different Flags available. For instance, the Chrome Beta, Dev, and Canary channels will often feature different Flags to choose from. If you want access to the largest number of Flags, Chrome Canary is probably your best bet. Keep in mind that Chrome Canary is also the least stable release, so you do take some risk when living on the cutting edge of Chrome. If you’re unfazed by these small risks, let’s talk about enabling Flags.

How do I enable Chrome Flags?

The good (but perhaps often dangerous) news is that Chrome Flags are easy to locate and enable. In fact, the method for enabling Flags is completely independent of your operating system. To locate available Flags, open your Chrome browser and simply type: chrome://flags/

Tag to a specific Chrome Flag highlighted

Hit enter and this will take you to the Flags main page in Chrome. From this page, you can scroll through the (seemingly endless) list of Flags to choose from. You can easily look through and choose to enable or disable Flags using the drop-down menus, but this is pretty overwhelming.

If you’re looking for particular types of Flags, you can also search the page using Control+F or Command+F on a Mac. However, if you know you want to enable a specific Flag the process is even easier. With the precise tag attached to the Flag in-hand, simply type: chrome://flags/#tag

This will take you directly to the specified Flag. In this syntax, #tag should be replaced with the appropriate tag attached to the Flag you wish to enable. Every Chrome Flag has a tag attached to it, listed just below the Flag’s description on the main page in the screenshot above.

Identifying enabled flags and resetting flags

One of the more annoying things about Chrome Flags is how hard it is to determine specifically which Flags are enabled. You should see most of the Flags you’ve personally enabled at the top of the main Flags page. Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to determine the status of some Flags. If you haven’t changed the status, it’s most likely disabled, but some Flags with menus do not tell you the default status.

Reset all chrome flags

Should you enable a Flag that causes issues on your browser or device, you can reset the Flag to default or explicitly disable the Flag. If you want to disable individual Flags, do this via the drop-down menu on the main page. There’s also a button at the top to Reset all if you’d like to undo all of the changes you’ve made to Chrome Flags.

Top 10 Chrome Flags to enable now

Now that you know what a Chrome Flag is, you might want to try out a few. Of course it’s always nice to start with Flags that useful and relatively low risk. I use all of the Flags below on my personal Chromebook and they’re all fairly stable. Some of the Flags related to Dark mode do have some consistency bugs, but they don’t crash your browser or OS.

Please make a note of which Chrome versions each Flag applies to. Some of these Flags are only for Chrome OS, while others apply to the Chrome browser across all platforms.

Enable autofill predictions

chrome://flags/#show-autofill-type-predictions (Mac, Linux, Windows, Chrome OS, Android)

This Flag makes your life easier by loading autofilled text into fields before you type anything. Your name, address, zip code, etc. will now all load automatically on shipping and billing forms online. A pretty useful time-saving Flag you can enable with minimal risk.

Dark mode all the things

chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark (Mac, Linux, Windows, Chrome OS, Android)
chrome://flags/#webui-dark-mode (Chrome OS only)
chrome://flags/#dark-light-mode (Chrome OS only)

If you’re like me, dark mode is your jam. I find it blinding to work without it enabled. All three of these Flags are related, but they do slightly different things. The first Flag will force dark mode on for all web content in your Chrome browser across any operating system. The second Flag will allow WebUI to use dark mode on your Chromebook.

Dark mode toggle chrome Flag enabled

The third Flag deals with dark mode throughout the Chrome OS interface. Turning this Flag on will give you a dark mode toggle in the quick settings tray. You can also use this flag to force light mode on Chrome OS, if you’re into that sort of thing. If you want to get a truly dark look on your Chromebook, enable all three of these Flags.

Be aware that occasionally the dark/light mode toggle can be inconsistent. You may need to toggle it off and on again to see the correct theme applied throughout your Chrome OS device and default apps.

Enable Files Trash folder

chrome://flags/#files-trash (Chrome OS only)

Trash folder chrome Flag enabled

Those coming from a Mac or Windows PC will no doubt notice the lack of a Trash folder in Chrome OS. If you recently made the switch and want your Trash back, you can enable this Flag. After toggling on, you will now see a Trash folder in the Files app on Chrome OS. This is a fairly handy Flag if you have a bad habit of deleting stuff on accident.

Password import

 chrome://flags/#PasswordImport (Mac, Linux, Windows, Chrome OS, Android)

Another useful Flag for those moving from a Mac or PC to Chrome OS. Or even those like myself that use multiple operating systems and browsers all the time. With this Flag you can import your passwords from Safari, Opera, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge to Chrome. If you can never remember your 20 character password with 5 special symbols, this is the Flag to enable.

System emoji picker

 chrome://flags/#enable-cros-ime-system-emoji-picker (Chrome OS only)

Emoji picker chrome Flag enabled

Chrome OS has long suffered from fragmented integration between the touch UI and keyboard UI. One of the annoying issues is that inserting emoji requires you to open up the virtual keyboard. With this Flag, you can now long press or right click to bring up a dedicated emoji picker in Chrome OS 91. You get a convenient search feature and all the emoji you would expect on an Android or iOS device.

Tab Hover Card Images

 chrome://flags/#tab-hover-card-images (Mac, Linux, Windows, Chrome OS, Android)

Tab hover chrome Flag enabled

One of my favorite features in Safari are the hovering card previews you get for webpages in each tab. With this Flag you can bring this feature to your Chrome browser on any platform. When you hover a tab in Chrome, you’ll see a small preview of the web content in that tab, just like on macOS.

Virtual keyboard clipboard with MultiPaste

 chrome://flags/#enable-cros-virtual-keyboard-multipaste (Chrome OS only)

Chrome Clipboard with Multipaste enabled

Those that work with links and images all the time know how useful a good clipboard can be. With this Flag you can enable Google’s MultiPaste keyboard currently in testing for Chrome OS. Once enabled, this Flag will add a clipboard function to the virtual Chrome OS keyboard. From there you can see all the images, links, and text you’ve recently copied.

This feature is a pretty big one for bloggers out there. It makes our job a bit easier when using a Chromebook.

Copy link to text

 chrome://flags/#copy-link-to-text (Mac, Linux, Windows, Chrome OS, Android)

Copy link to text chrome Flag enabled

Sometimes you want to share a particular passage from an online article. You can of course share the regular link, but then the person you’ve shared with needs to scroll through to find the desired text. The ‘copy link to text’ Flag allows you to share a link that will automatically show the highlighted text in a given document or webpage online. Obviously this is a great feature for teachers, students, and those that spend a lot of time conducting online research as part of their job.

These are our favorite Chrome Flags to get you started on your modding journey. There are always new Flags to try and if you join one of the experimental channels you’ll have even more options. Keep in mind you should be aware of what a given Flag does before enabling it. There are some Flags that can severely affect performance on a Chromebook, especially battery life.

If you accidentally enable something that causes issues, make sure to roll back to the original default settings for each Flag. Chrome Flags can be a lot of fun and add an extra dimension to Chrome OS and Chrome browsers across devices. There are also lots of other ways to modify your Chrome experience, including Android apps, Linux apps, and Chrome Themes. Let us know in the comments if you use any can’t-miss Chrome Flags or mods not on our list.

About author

Jeff Springer
Jeff Springer

Applied mathematician with a love for Android. I am interested in inverse problems for imaging and integration with camera software for mobile phones.