Google Chrome: pin tabs using drag and drop

Google launched a new experimental feature in the Canary version of the company’s Google Chrome web browser recently that introduces options to pin and unpin tabs using drag and drop operations.
Most modern web browsers support the pinning of tabs in the browser’s tab bar. A pinned tab is fixed to a position, usually on the leftmost side of the tab bar. Chrome displays the favicon of pinned sites only in the interface but does not visually distinguish between pinned tabs and regular tabs otherwise.
Up until now, Chrome users had to right-click on a tab in the web browser to pin or unpin it. A right-click on a tab displays “pin tab” or unpin tab” depending on its current state, and activation of the feature changes the status. The selection of the pin command would move it to the leftmost side of the tab bar and pin it next to the rightmost pinned tab (if any) or the left tab bar border if there are no other pinned tabs.
The new feature that Google tests in Chrome Canary currently would add the option to use drag and drop for pinning and unpinning operations. All you do is drag any tab between the pinned tabs area and the regular tabs area. The pinning operation works only if at least one tab is already pinned while unpinning works regardless of that.

The feature needs to be enabled before it can be used. Here is how that is done:

Load chrome://flags/#drag-to-pin-tabs in the Chrome address bar. You can load chrome://flags manually instead and search for Drag to Modify Tab Pinnedness to locate the preference.
Set the status of the experiment to Enabled from Default.
Restart Google Chrome.

Tip: wonder how to find out if a flag is enabled or disabled if set to default?
You should be able to drag and drop tabs between the pinned and regular tab area in the Chrome browser afterward. Simply set the preference to Default or Disabled to undo the change and return to the status quo.
Please note that experimental flags like this one may be removed at any time without notice. It is also possible that these may be implemented natively in Chrome.
Chrome supports drag and drop operations on the tab bar, but only to change the order of pinned or regular tabs, and to create new browsing windows by dragging tabs away from the tab bar of the browser
Closing Words
The new drag and drop tab pinning and unpinning option adds another option to Chrome. Heavy tab pinners — are there any? — benefit the most from the new functionality . The feature could be improved by placing a dedicated pin spot in the tab bar to allow the drag and drop pinning of the first tab by dropping it over that area.
Google is a data driven company and it is likely that its engineers looked at pinning statistics and concluded that a drag and drop feature would probably be appreciated by enough users of the browser.
Now You: Do you pin tabs? How many have you pinned? (via Softpedia)
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Fix chrome.exe appearing on the Windows Lockscreen

Google Chrome users who updated the web browser to version 75 may notice a new element on the lockscreen of the system when they lock it.
Our Deskmodder colleagues report that they noticed a chrome.exe element on the lockscreen along with media playback and volume controls after upgrading Chrome to the new version on a Windows 10 machine.
The module is displayed when Chrome is minimized according to the article. It is unclear if it is necessary to play media or if that is unrelated.
I tried to replicate the issue on a Windows 10 system with Chrome 75 but could not get chrome.exe to display on the lockscreen no matter what I tried (Minimize Chrome, play media, play media and minimize).
Chrome.exe is not the only program that may display media controls on the desktop. Windows 10 supports this since the Windows 10 Anniversary Update release. Back then, Groove, a native music application of the operating system, would display media controls if media played when the screen was locked.
Still, Chrome users who run into the issue can resolve it if they dislike the presence of chrome.exe on the lockscreen.
The feature seems to be linked to the Hardware Media Key Handling flag of the browser. The flag takes over hardware media controls on computer keyboards and that led to media keys not working properly anymore in media applications such as Spotify.
The solution for that issue was to disable Hardware Media Key Handling in Google Chrome, and that is also the solution for the chrome.exe issue on the Lockscreen of the Windows operating system.
 
Here is how you resolve that issue

Load the page chrome://flags/#hardware-media-key-handling in the Chrome web browser. You may also load chrome://flags and search for Hardware Media Key Handling instead.
Set the experimental flag to Disabled.
Restart Google Chrome.

Google seems to have activated the feature in Chrome 74 by switching the default status from “disabled” to “enabled”; that’s why Chrome users ran into the media key hijacking issue when that version started to roll out in April 2019.
Experimental flags may not be kept forever in Chrome, however. It is possible that Google will revert the setting or keep it enabled and remove the flag so that users cannot disable the feature anymore in the browser.
For now, all you have to do is disable the Hardware Media Key Handling flag to return to the status quo.
Now You: What is your take on this? Should a browser take over media keys?
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How Google's anti-adblocking draft affects other Chromium-based browsers

Google is working on a new manifest for Chrome extensions that defines the capabilities that extensions have in Google Chrome.
The manifest is available as a draft currently which means that it is not set in stone. One of the changes impacts most adblocking extensions for Chrome significantly if it passes in its current state.
Google plans to limit an API that most content blockers use currently and replace it with a new API that is limited as well. Core limitations include a fixed limit for the number of blocking rules that extensions may support. Google set the limit to 30,000 in the draft; popular blocking lists have more than double the number of entries already, and that does not even take into account options to use multiple lists. Google knows about that but has not adjusted the limit since draft publication.
Google Chrome is based on Chromium code to a large extent. The changes that Google proposes could impact other Chromium-based web browsers such as Vivaldi, Opera, Brave, or the new Microsoft Edge browser as well.
The big question is this: will extensions be limited on these browsers as well if Manifest launches in its current state? There is no catch-all answer as it depends on a number of factors.
First of all, one has to realize that the change affects extension capabilities only. While the change might affect extensions in all browsers, it won’t affect browsers that come with their own ad-blocking capabilities provided that users of these browsers use these already or switch to them when extensions lose the effectiveness.
Brave and Opera

Brave and Opera include ad-blocking functionality by default; these will continue to work just like before regardless of the new Manifest file for extensions.
Third-party browser developers who use Chromium as the source can change the Manifest or code in the browser to change the limits or keep the old API supported.
The companies have not revealed their position on Manifest V3 if it lands in its current state.
Vivaldi
The good news is that whatever restrictions Google adds, at the end we can remove them. Our mission will always be to ensure that you have the choice.
Vivaldi published a blog post on June 4, 2019 in which it highlighted the company’s stance on the matter. The company noted that Google’s current proposal would limit ad-blocking, privacy, and security extensions significantly. It made it clear that it would try and find ways around the limitations, e.g. by restoring the old API if possible, or even implementing a limited extensions store that would give extensions the capabilities that they require to work properly just like they do right now.
Vivaldi noted that Google’s implementation is not final and that Google might change it or improve the capabilities of the new API to match those of the old.
Microsoft Edge (Chromium-based)
Microsoft’s new web browser uses Chromium as its core and as such will impact it as well. Microsoft operates its own extension store and allows the installation of Chrome extensions next to that.
Microsoft has not responded publicly to Google’s Manifest V3 draft but since the company operates its own extensions store, it is in a better position already even if Google goes ahead with the plans.
Closing Words
The proposed Manifest changes impact other Chromium-based browsers. Third-party browser makers have options to reverse or mitigate the changes, e.g. through the use of internal content blocking functionality, restoring the old API or using their own extensions store with different Manifests (besides still supporting the Chrome Web Store).
It is certainly too early to come to a definitive answer. It all depends on Google and whether the company will go forward with the changes or modify them.
Ultimately, there is still Firefox which is not based on Chromium code that users may switch to.
Now You: Do you think Google will go ahead with the changes?
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How to disable search suggestion images in Google Chrome

Google released Google Chrome 75 on June 5, 2019 for all supported operating systems. Some Chrome users who upgraded the web browser to the new version noticed that Google is adding images to search suggestions in the browser.
A search for Mario might return an image of the iconic video character Super Mario or a hot of a Super Mario Kart game in the results. Results are based on the location of the user but all have in common that Chrome may display images next to search suggestions.

Images are only displayed for certain types of searches, e.g. when you search for the name of a celebrity, or a TV show or movie name. Images of anime and video game characters may be returned as well, but images of some characters such as Donald Duck or Micky Mouse, are not.
I experienced this on one test PC in Chrome Stable but not on another. It is possible that Google is rolling the feature out over time to the entire user base.
Google calls the feature rich entity suggestions and seems to have enabled it for a larger part of Chrome’s userbase after running tests for a while.
The main idea behind the feature is to provide Chrome users with visual cues which they may find useful. One situation where images may help is if there are identically named suggestions. The photos or images may help distinguish in this case.
Chrome without image search suggestions
Other users may dislike the feature as it does not really add that much value to the search suggestions and may be distracting. The images are tiny as well and it is difficult sometimes to identify anything on the image.
Disabling image search suggestions

There are two options to disable the images in Chrome’s search suggestions. The first depends on an experimental flag in Google Chrome that turns it off. While that returns to the status quo, it is quite possible that Google will remove the flag eventually to enforce the feature.
Omnibox rich entity suggestions
Display entity suggestions using images and an enhanced layout; showing more context and descriptive text about the entity. – Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, Android
Here is what you need to do:

Load chrome://flags/#omnibox-rich-entity-suggestions in the Chrome address bar.
The status of the flag defines whether images are displayed next to search suggestions.
Set the status to Disabled to turn the feature off.
Restart Google Chrome.

Second option: another search engine

The second option that Chrome users have is to change the search engine that is used to display suggestions in the web browser.
Here is how that is done:

Visit https://www.startpage.com/, https://www.duckduckgo.com/, or another custom search engine that you would like to use instead of Google Chrome.
Load the Chrome Settings afterward: chrome://settings/ or select Menu > Settings.
Scroll down to the Search Engine section on the page.
Select “Manage search engines”.
Locate the search engine in the list of “other search engines”, click on the three dots next to it, and select “make default”

Now You: Rich image suggestions, yay or nay, what is your take? (Via Softpedia, Techdows)
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Google releases Chrome 75 Stable for desktop and mobile

Google released a new stable version of the company’s Google Chrome web browser on June 5, 2019. Google Chrome 75 is available for all supported desktop operating systems and for Android.
Desktop users may run a manual check for updates to install the update right away while Android users will have to wait for the new version to be pushed out to their devices.
If you want to update Chrome on the desktop right away, load chrome://settings/help to run a check for updates and start the update or select Menu > Help > About Google Chrome to open the page from the menu.
A restart of the browser completes the process. Chrome should display version 75.0.3770.80 after the update to the new version on the About Chrome page.

Chrome 75: What is new
The official announcement of the new version on the Chrome Releases blog reveals little about the new version. Chrome 75 fixes 42 security issues according to Google; two, CVE-2019-5828 and CVE-2019-5829 received a severity rating of high, the second-highest rating available.
Interested Chrome users and admins may browse the — very, very long — changelog of the new release on the Chromium website.
Bleeping Computer reports that Chrome 75 adds lazy image and frames loading as experimental features to Chrome but these were included in Chrome 74 already released in April 2019.
Google removed the flag chrome://flags/#enable-signed-http-exchange from Chrome 75 as the feature is enabled by default in the browser.

Another new flag, chrome://flags/#enable-reader-mode, adds Reader Mode to Google Chrome. The feature is disabled by default and needs to be enabled by loading the address and setting the feature to Enabled. Note that it is necessary to restart Chrome before the feature becomes available.
You may enable the mode on any web page by selecting Menu > Distill page from the Chrome menu.

The feature does not work on Ghacks pages currently. It loads an optimized version of the article on the active web page when it works similarly to reader modes of browsers such as Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Edge.
Another new flag, chrome://flags/#isolate-origins integrates the command line switch -isolate-origins directly in Chrome.
Developers get their share of changes and features as well. Google published an update on the Developers blog that highlights these changes.
Notable changes include a new option to reduce the latency of canvas elements, the sharing of files using the Web Share API, or allowing underscores in numeric literals.
Issues?
Google has not confirmed any issues with the release but early feedback suggests that Chrome 75 may cause font rendering issues on some machines (Windows 7 mentioned specifically).
Now You: What is your take on this new release and Google’s not revealing all that much about it?
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Google takes even more action against deceptive Chrome extension installations

Google wants to do more against deceptive Chrome extension installations; the company announced a number of changes that it hopes will reduce the number of deceptive installations starting July 1, 2019.
Google announced a first wave of changes to combat deceptive extension installations in 2018 when it announced the retirement of inline installations. Inline installations of extensions kept the entire extension installation process on third-party sites. The change enforced the installation through the official Chrome Web Store instead and the reasoning behind that was that users would have access to information that the inline installation dialog would not provide.

It did not take long before shady extension developers found a way around the new limitation. One method used would simply change the size of the Chrome Web Store window so that limited information and the “add to Chrome” button was visible to the user.
The changes announced today address the described issue and other methods used by shady extension developers to get their extensions installed on user devices.
Google mentions the following “deceptive installation tactics” specifically:

Misleading interactive elements, e.g. call to action buttons or forms that “imply an outcome other than the installation of an extension”.
Modifying the site of the Chrome Web Store item listing window to withhold or hide information”.
Unclear or inconspicuous disclosures, e.g. not revealing to the user that an extension will be downloaded or installed or explaining what the extension does clearly.

Google notes that the previous changes dropped complaints about unwanted extension installations by 18%. The company hopes that the newly announced changes will reduce the number of users affected by deceptive installations further.
The changes will go live on July 1st, 2019. Google plans to remove extensions from the Chrome Web Store if they violate these new policies. The action that Google will take may differ depending on the “egregiousness of the deceptive behavior”. It may include immediate removal from the Chrome Web Store and disabling on user systems or a warning email instead.
A developer FAQ has been published that provides further information for extension developers.
Closing Words
Google’s previous actions against deceptive extension installations dropped user complaints but they did not eliminate the issue entirely. The new methods will surely improve the situation further but it seems unlikely that they will eliminate the issue entirely.
Now You: How do you install extensions in your browser of choice? Do you read user reviews or web reviews?
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Google still on track to limit ad-blockers in Chrome

Google is still on track to limit the effectiveness of ad-blocker extensions in the company’s Chrome web browser by making changes to APIs available to Chrome extensions.
The company revealed plans to publish a new manifest for extensions, called Extension Manifest V3, that defines the core functionality of browser extensions for the Chrome browser.
One of the planned changes impacts content blockers. Without going into details: Google plans to remove an API that is used by content blockers currently to filter content on the Internet. There will be a replacement for the current API that content blockers may use instead to continue blocking web content but it will limit the number of filters that content blockers may load at any given time.
Google plans to limit the number of rules that an extension can specify to 30,000 entries, and the number of dynamic rules to 5000 entries. EasyList alone, a list of blocking filters used by many content blockers, has over 75,000 rules currently. The change will impact the effectiveness of ad-blockers on Chrome unless extension developers find a way to compress the list, find ways around the limit, or bring it down to the 30,000 mark using other ways.
Google has stated in the past that the values are not set in stone and that it may raise the values before the new Manifest lands. Chrome engineers added support for dynamic rules recently and Google has stated that webRequest API blocking capabilities will remain available to Enterprise customers but not for non-Enterprise customers.
Closing Words

Manifest V3 is available as a draft and it is possible that Google is going to increase the values of the filtering options to values that match what content blocking extensions require.
Google’s argument that the limiting happens because of performance impacts of filter lists that are too large seems like a pretextual argument to limit content blockers on the platform.
Raymond Hill, the developer of the content blocking extensions uBlock Origin and uMatrix, suggests that Google is now in a position to limit the effectiveness of content blocking extensions on Chrome. The company is well aware of the fact that content blocking is hurting its revenue; the rise of Chrome put Google in a position to do something about it. Chrome is the dominating browser on today’s Internet both on the desktop and on mobile.
It is clear that Google cannot just block content blockers entirely as it would lead to a mass exodus of users to other platforms. Instead, it puts out another argument for the change that makes it seem as if content blockers cause performance issues because of the sheer number of filters that they use.
Limiting the effectiveness of content blockers makes them less desirable for Chrome users. While some may migrate to other browsers, others might not mind that some ads are displayed.
Firefox is probably the prime candidate for Chrome users as it supports extensions on the desktop and on mobile. All major content blocking extensions are available for Firefox as well. Other potential options include the Chromium-based browsers Brave and Opera which both block ads by default, Microsoft’s upcoming Chromium-based Edge version, and any other browser that does not impose these limits.
The built-in adblocker that Google launched in Chrome in 2018 blocks only advertisement on sites that use display techniques that violate certain desktop and mobile experiences.
Now You: Would you switch to another browser if Google does not change its plans? (via 9to5 Google)
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Google Chrome's New Tab Page may soon get a customization boost

Google Chrome users may soon get additional customization options to change the default functionality and layout of the browser’s New Tab Page.
Chrome users who want to modify the New Tab Page currently don’t find many options to do so. The best option for many is to download a New Tab Page extension to customize what is displayed on the page.
Google has been working on New Tab Page customization improvements for a while. Recent modifications are now available in Chrome Canary, the cutting edge version of the Chrome browser.
The changes are not fully implemented at this point but they provide an outlook of things to come. The options are hidden behind experimental flags at the time; users who want to follow their development need to enable them in Chrome Canary:

Load chrome://flags/#ntp-customization-menu-v2 in the Chrome address bar and set the flag to Enabled.
Load chrome://flags/#chrome-colors in the Chrome address bar and set the flag to Enabled.
Restart the Chrome browser.

Chrome customization menu

Open the New Tab Page after the restart and activate the customize option on that page to open the redesigned customization menu.
The Shortcuts section is not fully functional yet but it highlights Google’s intention clearly. Chrome users get options to select the type of shortcuts that they would like to see on the New Tab Page.

My shortcuts — The shortcuts are displayed based on the frequency of visits and selected by Chrome.
Most visited sites -Shortcuts are curated by the user.

The wording of both options seems confusing but it is a development version and Google is probably going to address this before release.
The third and final option is to hide any shortcuts on the New Tab Page.
Chrome Colors

The Color and Theme section of the customize page is not active yet either. The option shows a blank page when you select it currently.
My best guess is that you will be able to change color and theme of the New Tab Page once the change lands in Chrome.
Background is still available to select a custom image for the New Tab Page using a local or Google provided image. An option to set no background image is provided as well.
Closing Words
It is unclear when these changes will land in Chrome Stable. There is still a chance that some or all will be dropped; but that is true for all experiments that Google adds to the browser using the chrome://flags page.
The customization options that Chrome offers currently are inferior to those offered by other browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Opera, or the Vivaldi browser.
Now You: Which elements do you consider essential on a New Tab Page?
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Chrome 76: ESC-key use no longer seen as user action to block spam

From Chrome 76 on, Google won’t allow sites access to certain APIs anymore based on a user’s use of the ESC-key on such sites to fight abuse.
Most modern browsers prevent access to certain APIs open the websites based on user interactions with webpages. Access to certain APIs such as those that allow popups or screen changes, is blocked until the user interacts with the page in question.
Downloads are a basic example: they should be allowed if the user interacts with download links or buttons, but it is not a good idea to allow them if the user did not interact with the webpage in any form prior to the action.
Google introduced a new protective feature in Chrome recently that blocks automatic downloads in ad frames.
Another example is audio playback on sites. While you expect that to happen when you click on a video’s play button, you may not expect sites to play audio without you interacting with that site first (and even then, you sometimes may not want sites to play audio, but that is another issue altogether).
Not every user interaction may indicate that it is okay to go ahead with certain activity on a webpage. A click or tap certainly falls into the user interaction category, but actions such as pressing the ESC-key on the computer keyboard, opening the Developer Tools, or hovering the mouse cursor over an element don’t.
Google Chrome handles the ESC-key currently as active user interaction and that means that sites gain access to certain APIs.
The Esc-key may be used to stop the loading of a site and Google believes that this should not be counted as page interaction, however, and going forward, ESC won’t be counted as such anymore.

The company published a demo page that highlights one of the issues that it identified. Hitting the ESC-key on the site opens a popup in Chrome, and that is certainly not something that the user would want to happen as a consequence of that action.
The release of Chrome 76 changes the ESC-key classification in the Chrome browser. Chrome 76 does not see ESC-key uses as page interactions anymore and Chrome will block actions that result out of its use.
Mozilla Firefox has a similar feature already in place that prevents page activity when the ESC-key is used by users of the browser.
Closing Words
Google moving the ESC-key from the user interaction side to the “does not count as user interaction” side is a good thing as it will prevent abuse by sites on the Internet.
Chrome 76 will be released in July 2019. (via ZDNET)
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Fix Chrome prioritizing search words over visited sites in address bar

Google Chrome users who have updated the desktop version of the web browser to the latest version may have noticed a change in how Google Chrome responds to input in the browser’s address bar.
Chrome users who type characters into the address bar may notice that Google Chrome may prioritize searches over visited sites after the recent update is installed.
The screenshot below shows an example where Chrome makes Googles Search the default action when you hit the Enter-key and not one of the matching sites visited in the past.

Previous versions of the browser prioritized the first matching domain name instead so that you could load it quickly by typing the first few characters of the name and hitting the Enter-key.
The change appears to affect all search engines to a degree. While you may change the default search engine of the Chrome browser to address the issue somewhat (away from Google Search to another search provider), it won’t fix the issue completely.
Fixing the issue
There is only one real option at the time to revert the change and go back to the previous status quo.
Option 1: Disabling Omnibox Google Drive Document suggestions

The prioritization change of search suggestions in Google Chrome seems to be linked to a new experimental flag in Google Chrome. If you disable the feature in Chrome — it is enabled by default — you will notice that Chrome returns to the previous search behavior.
Here is how that is done:

Load chrome://flags/#omnibox-drive-suggestions in the Chrome address bar.
Change the experimental flag to disabled by activating the menu next to the preference and selecting “Disabled” from the options.
Restart the Chrome browser.

The description suggests that it adds Google Drive search options to Chrome’s address bar if Google Search is the default provider and if you are signed in to a Google account. Why that is affecting the priority of results is unclear.
Option 2: change the default search provider

It seems that you cannot resolve the issue completely when you switch search providers, but it may help.

Load chrome://settings/ in the browser’s address bar.
Scroll down to the Search Engine section.
Either pick one of the available solutions under “Search engine used in the address bar”, or select “Manage search engines” if the search engine that you want to pick is not listed.

Manage Search Engines lists all detected search engines. Chrome picks them up as you visit the websites of the search engines and run a search.
My selected search engine is Startpage, but you can select any other search engine such as DuckDuckGo as well. (See: It may be time to switch to DuckDuckGo or Startpage for web search)
Select the menu icon next to the search engine and there “make default” to make it the new default search engine in Google Chrome.

Now You: Which search provider do you use currently?
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