Web and Prediction Services on Your Chromebook

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Chrome Settings

web and prediction services
Getty Images #88616885 Credit: Stephen Swintek.

This article is only intended for users running the Google Chrome operating system.

Some of the more handy behind-the-scenes features in Chrome are driven by Web and prediction services, which enhance the browser's capabilities in a number of ways such as using predictive analysis to speed up load times and providing suggested alternatives to a website that may be unavailable at the moment. Although these services offer a level of convenience, they can also pose minor privacy concerns for some Chromebook users.

No matter your viewpoint, it is important to fully comprehend what these services are, their operational methods as well as how to toggle them on and off. This tutorial takes an in-depth look at each of these areas.

If your Chrome browser is already open, click on the Chrome menu button -- represented by three horizontal lines and located in the upper right hand corner of your browser window. When the drop-down menu appears, click on Settings.

If your Chrome browser is not already open, the Settings interface can also be accessed via Chrome's taskbar menu, located in the lower right hand corner of your screen.

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Resolve Navigation Errors

chromebook web services
© Scott Orgera.

Chrome OS's Settings interface should now be visible. Scroll down to the bottom and select the Show advanced settings... link. Next, scroll again until you locate the Privacy section. Within this section are several options, each accompanied by a check box. When enabled, an option will have a check mark to the left of its name. When disabled, the check box will be empty. Each feature can be easily toggled off and on by clicking on its respective check box once.

Not all options found in the Privacy section are related to Web services or prediction services. For the purpose of this tutorial, we will only focus on those features that are. The first, enabled by default and highlighted in the screen shot above, is Use a web service to help resolve navigation errors.

When active, this Web service instructs Chrome to suggest websites that are similar to the page that you are currently attempting to load -- in the event that the particular site is currently inaccessible for whatever reason.

One reason some users choose to disable this feature is because the URLs that they are attempting to access are sent to Google's servers, so that their Web service can provide alternate suggestions. If you prefer to keep the sites that you are accessing somewhat private, then disabling this feature may be desirable.

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Prediction Services: Search Keywords and URLs

chromebook prediction services
© Scott Orgera.

The second feature we'll discuss, highlighted in the screen shot above and also enabled by default, is labeled Use a prediction service to help complete searches and URLs types in the address bar or the app launcher search box. You may have noticed that Chrome sometimes provides suggested search terms or website addresses as soon as you begin typing in the browser's Omnibox or in the app launcher's search box. Many of these suggestions are formulated by a prediction service, along with a combination of your previous browsing and/or search history.

The usefulness of this feature is obvious, as it offers meaningful suggestions and also saves you some keystrokes. With that said, not everyone wishes to have the text they type into the address bar or app launcher automatically sent to a prediction server. If you find yourself in this category, you can easily disable this particular prediction service by removing its respective check mark.

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Prefetch Resources

chromebook prefetch
© Scott Orgera.

The third feature in the Privacy settings section, active by default and highlighted above, is Prefetch resources to load pages more quickly. An interesting and decidedly proactive piece of functionality, it instructs Chrome to partially cache Web pages that are linked to -- or sometimes associated with -- the current page which you are viewing. By doing so, those pages are then loaded much faster if you should choose to visit them at a later time.

There is a downside here, as you may never visit some or all of these pages -- and this caching could potentially slow down your connection by eating up unnecessary bandwidth. This feature may also cache components or full pages of websites that you want absolutely nothing to do with, including having a cached copy on your Chromebook's hard drive. If either of these potential scenarios concerns you, prefetching can be disabled by removing its accompanying check mark.

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Resolve Spelling Errors

chromebook spell check
© Scott Orgera.

The final feature that we will discuss in this tutorial is labeled Use a web service to help resolve spelling errors. Highlighted in the example above and disabled by default, this instructs Chrome to automatically check for mistakes in spelling whenever you are typing within a text field. Your entries are analyzed on-the-fly by a Google Web service, providing alternate spelling suggestions where applicable.

This setting, like the others discussed so far, can be toggled on and off via its accompanying check box.