You may have seen or heard about Chrome flags in one of our many posts featuring them and what they can do. We have even featured them in several of our videos where we show new features you should try. But what are Chrome flags? How can they benefit you, and why would you use them?
What are Chrome flags?
Chrome flags are experimental features that are not part of the default Chrome or Chrome OS experience, but that Google is testing internally. They are typically hidden from the standard user interface, but for tinkerers like ourselves, flags are easy to access and enable. They can serve as a look ahead at features that are coming down the pipeline but are not quite ready yet for prime time. Because of their experimental nature, they are sometimes a bit volatile and their excessive use can – at times – cause issues as opposed to enhancing the user experience.
Why would you use Chrome flags?
If you are the type of person that likes to experiment with new Chrome or Chrome OS features before the rest of the world has access to them, then Chrome flags are the simplest way you can test out those new features without too much fuss. As an example, at the time of writing this article, Dark Mode on the Chrome operating system is still not part of the default Chrome OS experience. However, because there is a flag dedicated to testing this feature, I have been able to enjoy dark mode for some time now. There are countless other flags just like that can either sprinkle minor UI improvements or make dramatic changes to the way you use Chrome or Chrome OS.
How do I enable Chrome flags?
To enable Chrome flags, simply type in “chrome://flags” into your chrome omnibar or address bar.
This will take you to a page that will populate every single flag that is available at the moment. Click on the drop-down to choose from enabling, disabling, or simply leaving the feature in its default state. For some flags, this drop-down may have a few extra options, too.
After making these changes, Chrome will prompt for a restart. After this restart, you should now either be able to see your new feature in action or see a brand new option in your Chrome or Chrome OS settings to control it.
I just want the steps:
1. Type in chrome://flags into the Chrome address bar
2. Click on the drop-down for the feature you want, and select between enabling, disabling, or leaving it as the default.
3. Chrome will prompt a restart. Restart in order to see your new feature in action or an option in settings to control it.
What are the warnings with using Chrome flags?
When you access the chrome://flags page, one of the first things you will see right at the top of the page, is a big warning letting you know to proceed with caution.
It should be noted that should you encounter any issues with Chrome flags you have enabled, you should be able to reset them by clicking on the “Reset all” button on the top right of the flags page. Unfortunately, there may be times when a flag is highly buggy or conflicts with another flag you have enabled and you may be unable to access the flags page to perform a reset. In those cases, you will most likely have to Powerwash to return your Chromebook to factory settings. These cases are few and far between, but as always, we recommend proceeding with caution. Otherwise, enjoy the experiments and hopefully you find some useful features to test that aren’t quite ready for prime time.