Fun with Google Chrome

You probably use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox to browse the web.  (If you use Microsoft Internet Explorer, stop, and switch immediately; if you use Safari, you should almost certainly switch; if you use Opera or Konqueror or some other weird thing... you probably have Reasons.)

You probably know that Firefox is an open-source project of the Mozilla Foundation, born out of the ashes of the Netscape Navigator source code that was donated after that project folded.  What you might not know is that Chrome is Google's officially-branded release of the Chromium web browser, another open-source project started by Google itself.  Whichever you choose, you're promoting the development and adoption of an excellent set of open-source web technologies.

Shortly after its release in 2008, Chrome became my default browser.  It was significantly quicker and sported a much cleaner interface than the other browsers of that era, and within a few releases it had become quite stable.  When the long-awaited Chrome Sync feature was implemented in 2009, I discontinued use of Firefox outside of testing purposes.

Here are my Top 3 ways to make Google Chrome (and Firefox) more useful.

1.  Activate Chrome Sync
This feature protects you from data loss and keeps your bookmarks and other information synchronized across all of your computers by backing up your settings and data to Google's servers.  To activate it, click the triple-bar '≡' symbol in the top right-hand corner of Chrome and select 'Sign in to Chrome'.  Enter your Google Account information, and you're done!  To keep everything synchronized, you'll need to do this on each of your computers.  Firefox users: you can activate 'Firefox Sync', which offers many of the same features through your Mozilla account.

2.  Use 'Pin Tabs'
This is perfect if you have several windows (email, calendar, reader, streaming music, etc) that you always keep open.  Simply right-click on the tab and select 'Pin Tab'.  The tab will shrink down to just the favicon (the little image that appears to the left of the website name in a tab), freeing up space in the tab bar.  Pinned tabs cannot be closed, which is useful to prevent accidental closure of an app you're working in or a form you're filling out.  When the browser is restarted, pinned tabs reopen automatically to their previous state.  To unpin a tab, right-click and select 'Unpin Tab'.  Firefox users: you can do this too!

3. Use Favicon Bookmarks
Bookmarks can be shrunk down to favicons too!  Bookmark a page by hitting Ctrl-D, select the option to save it to the Bookmarks Bar, right-click on the new bookmark and select 'edit', delete the name, and hit 'save'.  This is a great strategy for freeing up space in the bookmark bar.  Firefox users: you can do this too!  You can use this technique to create something that looks like this:

Have other techniques for making Chrome more useful?  Leave a comment!


Happy New Years 2013!

And a new year begins!

2012 was a great year, but it was also an extremely busy one.  I created this blog many months ago, but only now have I made the time to finish setting it up.

I want to use this medium to explore several big questions:
  1. How do I evaluate the possibilities to decide what things are worth doing?
  2. What methods of planning, progress tracking, and time management work best for me?
  3. Where can I apply technology to improve my goal management strategy?
Overwintering in California...
Bonus points if these ruminations prove useful to someone else!

Brandon Curtis is on Google+; read more about him here.