What Is Google Chrome?

Get the scoop on Google's browser

Person holding a smartphone with the Google Chrome app opening screen.

 

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Google Chrome is a free web browser developed by Google, used for accessing web pages on the internet. As of April 2019, it's the most popular web browser of choice worldwide, holding 60% of the web browser market share.

Google Chrome is also a cross-platform browser, meaning that there are versions that work on different computers, mobile devices, and different operating systems. According to Statista, Google Chrome for Android is the most used version, holding nearly 31% of the global web browser market share as of February 2019.

Using Google Chrome

Using Google Chrome is as easy as using the default web browser on your current computer (such as Internet Explorer, Edge, or Safari). Whenever you want to visit a website, all you have to do is type the web address URL into the address bar at the top and hit Enter/Go/Search.

Like other web browsers, Google Chrome includes basic browser features like a back button, forward button, refresh button, history, bookmarks, toolbar, and settings. Its feature offering, however ,goes far beyond the basics.

A Few of Google Chrome's Standout Features

Here are some of Google Chrome's best features.

It's fast, secure, and easy to use.

Perhaps the biggest draw to Google Chrome is its reputation for performance. Web pages can be opened and loaded extremely quickly — even when browsing through lots of pages with heavy graphics, ads or video content. The interface is clean and simple to use even for beginners, and updates are rolled out frequently and automatically to keep security in check.

You can use the address bar to search Google.

Need to search something? Simply open a new window or tab and start typing whatever you need to search for in the address bar as if you were already on Google.com. Then hit Enter/Go/Search and you'll be shown a corresponding Google results page.

You can sync your Chrome settings across devices.

When you use Chrome with your Google Account, you can sync all of your bookmarks, history, passwords, autofills and more. This means that your settings will remain consistent and updated whenever you use Chrome via your Google account on any other computer or device.

You can use it without having it track your browsing activity.

Select the three vertical dots in the top right of your browser, then select New Incognito Window to browse privately without having your browsing history, cookies, or site data tracked.

You can download and install extensions to customize your browsing experience.

Chrome extensions are small programs created by third-party developers that can bring new features to your browser or create shortcuts for a web service. When installed, an extension might appear as a small icon in the top of your browser beside the address bar.

Using Google Chrome Extensions

Google Chrome extensions are available for many of your favorite web services, from Dropbox and Evernote to Pocket and Pinterest. They can be searched and downloaded from the Chrome Web Store.

When you find an extension you want to use, just select Add to Chrome and then Add extension).

A screenshot of Google.com.

A small popup box might appear in Chrome confirming the installation along with a short note about how to access it. A new tab might also open with more in-depth instructions that show you how to use all the features of the extension.

To enable, disable, or delete existing extensions, select the three vertical dots in the upper right corner of your Chrome browser. Then select More Tools > Extensions. Select the button switch on any extension to turn it on (blue) or off (gray). Select Remove to delete it.

How to Get Chrome

Google Chrome is completely free to download and use, but you'll need to use an existing web browser to download it. All you have to do is navigate to google.com/chrome and select the Download Chrome button.

Google will automatically detect the platform you're on so that it can provide the corresponding version of Chrome you need to download. If you're on a mobile device, a popup message will appear asking to direct you to either the iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store in order to download the Chrome app for iOS or Android.

Google Chrome can be downloaded and used on the following platforms:

  • macOS 10.10 or later
  • Windows 10/8.1/8/7 64-bit
  • Windows 10/8.1/8/7 32-bit
  • Linux
  • Android
  • iOS

Google also offers "frozen" versions of Chrome for Windows XP, Windows Vista, macOS 10.6-10.9. This means that updates are not supported for these versions.