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Google Chrome has tons of hidden experimental features — here's how to enable them

An image of the Google Chrome logo on a smartphone, representing an article about how to set Chrome flags
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you're a fan of Google's omnipresent browser, knowing how to set Chrome flags will unlock a bunch of hidden features that you may not have known about.

Granted, many of Chrome's hidden features aren't of much use to the everyday user, with advanced settings such as "Allow Omnibox contextual web on-focus suggestions on the SRP" likely to fly over most of our heads. That said, learning how to enable flags on Chrome can still come in handy, giving you the ability to unlock cool features, such as the ability to force dark mode on every website.

Given Chrome's open nature, it's possible to enable Chrome flags on Windows, macOS, Android, and even iOS. All you need to do is enter a short URL into your Chrome browser, whether that's on a desktop or a smartphone/tablet.

It's worth noting that most Chrome flags are meant for testing purposes, so caution is advised when enabling certain ones as they could lead to "breaking" your browser — though it's easy to reset all flags to fix any problems. As a rule of thumb, though, it's best to leave well alone the flags you're unsure of.

So, if you want to check out how to enable flags in Chrome, here's our guide.


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How to set Chrome flags

On a Chromebook, PC, Mac, iOS or Android device:

  1. Open the Chrome browser
  2. Enter chrome://flags/ into the address bar
  3. Select or search for the flags you want to enable
  4. Click or tap on the flag
  5. Select Enabled
  6. Select Relaunch

Read on to see detailed instructions for each step.


Note: although the screenshots shown below are taken on a Windows PC, the steps to set Chrome flags should look more or less the same on any of the devices mentioned in Step 1.

1. If you're using Chrome on a Chromebook, Windows PC, Mac, iOS, or Android device, open your Chrome browser. Next, enter chrome://flags/ into the address bar at the top to enable flags in Chrome.

(Image credit: Future)

2. You'll now see a rather long list of every Chrome flag. Scroll through and find any you want to enable. Alternatively, search for specific flags using the search box at the top of the page.

(Image credit: Future)

3. To enable or disable flags, simply click/tap the drop-down menu and click/tap Enabled or Disabled. Finally, click/tap Relaunch to restart Chrome and apply the changes.

(Image credit: Future)

How to disable Chrome flags

Given their advanced nature, it's easy to enable a flag that can cause unwanted results, such as webpages not rendering correctly. Fortunately, it's also easy to disable any previously set Chrome flags, putting everything back to default. Here's how to reset any Chrome flags.

1. Enter chrome://flags/ into the address bar. Next, click/tap Reset all in the top-right, then click/tap Relaunch. Chrome will now restart with all flags set to their default value.

(Image credit: Future)

Which Chrome flags to enable/disable: Tom's Guide best picks

Since there are so many Chrome flags, it's difficult to say which ones you should enable or disable. However, here are three handy ones we'd suggest you check out if you don't have the patience to scroll through the hundreds that are available.

1. Faster downloads using Parallel Downloading

This flag effectively works as a download booster for large downloads, and works across all platforms. It forces Chrome to break downloads into three smaller "jobs," before combining them into one file when the downloads are complete.

1. To get faster downloads on Chrome, search "Parallel Downloading" in the flag search bar. Click/tap Enabled next to the flag, then click/tap Relaunch.

(Image credit: Future)

2. Dark mode on every website

This flag forces pages to render in dark mode, and works great on most websites. If you notice some websites look a bit janky, though, it's easy to disable this flag and go back to default.

1. To enable dark mode on every website with Chrome, search "Auto Dark Mode for Web Contents" in the flag search bar. Click/tap Enabled next to the flag, then click/tap Relaunch.

(Image credit: Future)

3. Touch-friendly UI on Windows

This gives Chrome a more touch-friendly UI, including a bigger search bar, which is great if you're rocking a touchscreen PC such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 8.

If you want to make Chrome on your touch-enabled PC more user friendly, search "Touch UI Layout" in the flag search bar. Click Enabled next to the flag, then Relaunch.

(Image credit: Future)

Now you know how to enable flags in Chrome, you may want to check out some other Chrome guides, such as how to set a homepage in Google Chrome, how to block a website in Chrome, or the best Google Chrome extensions. We also have plenty of other computing guides, so why not get started with how to open HEIC files on Windows.

Dale Fox
Dale Fox

Dale Fox is a freelance journalist based in the UK. He's been a tech nerd ever since childhood, when he used the money from his first job as a paperboy to buy a subscription to GamesMaster magazine. Dale was previously a presenter and editor in China, where he also worked as a copywriter for OnePlus at its Shenzhen HQ.