How to Use the New Chrome Actions to Boost Your Browser Productivity

How to Use the New Chrome Actions to Boost Your Browser Productivity
Screenshot: Google Chrome

Chrome 87 brings with it a very handy new capability: Chrome Actions. Essentially, it turns your browser’s address bar (or omnibox) into a command prompt, so you can access various tools and functions without having to delve into menus and navigate around dialog boxes.

The trick is in knowing what actions are Chrome Actions, though you’ll see suggestions for some pop up as you type. Google says the feature is rolling out slowly, so you might not see it just yet, but you can at least make sure you’re upgraded to the latest version of Chrome first by selecting Help then About Google Chrome from the browser menu. (We outline the currently available Chrome Actions below, but there are apparently more on the way.)

Once you’ve typed out a phrase, you should see the relevant action button underneath, which you’ll need to click to confirm (in our version of Chrome, at least, it’s not enough to just type out the phrase and then hit Enter). As XDA Developers points out, each action can be launched in many different ways.

Give these a try in the omnibox with Chrome Actions enabled.

“Clear browsing data”

As you would expect, this one takes you straight to the browsing data pop-up, where you can wipe your browsing history, cookies, hosted data, and more. You can choose which types of data get erased, and you can choose how far back through Chrome history you want to go using the drop-down at the top.

You’ll automatically be taken to the Advanced tab of the dialog, which gives you a little bit more control over the information that you’re wiping. Note that if data is being synced between devices (such as your browsing history), then it’ll be wiped from all your devices at once, so double-check what you’re deleting before clicking on Clear data.

Individual Chrome Actions can be phrased in a variety of ways, but they all lead to the same shortcut. You can also type in “wipe cache,” “wipe data,” “remove history,” “info erase,” “history clear,” and “delete history” to trigger this action, but they all lead to the same place inside Chrome.

“Manage passwords”

Chrome has evolved into a capable password manager in recent years, and you can use this text shortcut to quickly view all the passwords the browser has saved. You’ll be taken to your main password list, where you can search through the passwords you’ve stored (using the box in the top right corner) and check if any of your passwords may have been compromised.

Click the eye symbol next to any password to view the login credentials, or click the three dots to the side of any password to copy or remove it. Whenever you try and reveal or interact with a password, you’ll need to enter the password for the user account on your computer to prove you are who you say you are for an added layer of security.

Other phrases you can deploy here include “change password,” “credentials edit,” “show passwords,” “password view,” or “view credentials” — they will all bring the same action button up and lead to the same screen.

Screenshot: Google Chrome Screenshot: Google Chrome

“Manage payment methods”

Chrome can store your card details and autofill them when needed, and this shortcut lets you get straight to the list of saved cards. You can edit your current payment methods, add new ones, and more — basically, it’s the same as choosing Settings then Payment methods from the Chrome menu.

Editing any of your saved payment methods involves launching the Google Pay site, but it only takes a few clicks. You can also tell Chrome not to save your payment information after you enter it on the web, and completely remove any of the listed cards and accounts if you don’t want them stored any longer.

You can bring up the same Chrome Actions box with a variety of other commands, including “edit credit card,” “cards edit,” “update payments,” “change browser payments,” “manage cards,” and “save cards.”

“Incognito”

One word is all it takes to bring up this particular Chrome Action, although there are other options. You no doubt know how incognito mode works at this stage: None of your browsing history is saved while you’re incognito, and Chrome won’t permanently store cookies on your computer either.

Remember the limitations of incognito mode as well, in that you’re still going to get tracked if you sign into Facebook, Google, Amazon, or wherever. Downloads are still kept, and your internet service provider will still know all about the various sites you’re visiting (unless you’ve enlisted the services of a VPN).

You can launch it in numerous ways: Type “private window,” “enter incognito,” “start incognito,” “start private mode,” “open incognito mode,” “private tab launch,” and “private tab” (though you can’t actually have a single private tab — it always has to be a separate window).

Screenshot: Google Chrome Screenshot: Google Chrome

“Translate this”

Google Chrome usually does a good job of translating pages in a foreign language on the fly, but you can also bring up the translation pop-up on demand with this phrase. Chrome will attempt to detect the language that the website is written in, and will give you the choice of converting it to your default language.

If the languages on screen haven’t been correctly identified, you can click the three dots on the right of the pop-up dialog to specify the language to use. It’s also possible to turn off translation completely for the page that you’re currently on.

Other ways that you can get this Chrome Action button to appear include typing “webpage change language,” “translate page,” “change language page,” “browser translate page,” “webpage translate,” and “Chrome page translate.”

“Update Chrome”

Earlier we mentioned how to check to make sure you’re running the latest version of Google’s browser, but this Chrome Action makes the process even more straightforward. It’s a good example of how these actions can save you some time.

You can see what version of Chrome you’re currently running and update it if necessary. Chrome is usually good at keeping itself up to date, but this is a handy backup.

Other commands that will work here are “browser update,” “Chrome upgrade,” “install browser,” “upgrade browser,” and “install Google Chrome.” As long as your phrase is something close to that, the action will show up.