Mac O’Clock
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Mac O’Clock

Here’s How I use Chrome efficiently on a macOS

…because sometimes you have to use Chrome on a Mac

Image from bleepingcomputer.com

Earlier this year I wrote an article about ditching Chrome and going all in with Apple’s web browser, Safari. And I have been true to this decision and it’s working out… for the most part.

Every so often, I will use Chrome, and it’s not because I want to, but because I have to. Mostly for work commitments, 4k YouTube viewing (for now) and for other very minor tasks that I can’t purely get from Safari… yet.

So, I wanted to cover my Chrome use (now that I have put it in perspective after committing to Safari) in how I make it work for me and my workflow, performance-wise.

Chrome is the browser built by Google. Google states that “Chrome is designed for speed and efficiency” but unfortunately for us Mac users, it can be a bit of a drain and provide an uncomfortable, short-lived browsing experience.

Earlier this year, Google revealed that Chrome is going to become dramatically more power-efficient. And it looks set to result in hours of additional battery life for laptops, even with focus on mac users.

Well, until the “stable” release is out and if you decide to continue the relationship with Chrome, I thought I would share some of my recommendations on how I effectively use Chrome on effectively any macOS.

Before I get into it, do note, with Big Sur, Apple’s new macOS coming out soon, this could all change… (you could potentially do away with Chrome altogether! With a more polished Safari, more on that later)

The following are the contents of what I’ll be covering and what to expect as you scroll down, in how you can get more out of Chrome;

  • Chrome loves your battery,
  • Under the hood,
  • Smart Restart,
  • Disable hardware acceleration,
  • Clean up system Junk,
  • Update Chrome,
  • Manage you open tabs,
  • Review extensions and
  • Find heavy memory consumers on your Mac.

…But why does Chrome drain your battery?

I believe it’s common knowledge now that Chrome utilises massive amounts of RAM in its attempt to “work efficiently”. Unfortunately, I see this as the sacrifice we have to give up in allowing the end user to browse in seamless continuity. And we shouldn’t have to.

What's happening in the background, under the hood, for Chrome to be slow?

A couple of things.

  • The ongoing data exchange in the background,
  • Active tabs,
  • Extensions you have or may not be aware of,
  • Other background apps feeding off your RAM (and I have many background apps) and
  • Chrome has been running for too long without quitting, to name a few.

…and this is what you can do about it.

Smart Restart

If Chrome has been running continuously for a long time i.e. you haven’t closed it for very long, then it may pay to carry out a “smart restart” and don’t worry, this command refreshes Chrome while keeping your tabs intact. Phew.
To do this, paste in the following command to the address line:

Paste in: chrome://restart

You can even add this as a bookmark so when it’s been a while and you need to speed up Chrome, you will have this in one click.

Disable hardware acceleration

Hardware acceleration allows the CPU to offload some page-rendering and loading tasks to your system’s GPU. Although it sounds counterintuitive, disabling the acceleration may noticeably make your Chrome load faster.

Go to Chrome’s Settings > Advanced > System and slide the toggle left.

Feel free to experiment with this option and see how this can work for you.

Clean up system junk

Your system can become full of unwanted junk, unnecessary files like temporary files, broken items and cache. Browsing data builds up and causes Chrome to slow down over time.

Giving your system a frequent clean up is the way to go for improved system performance. Regular maintenance and updates are a great way to stay on top of Chrome’s performance and usage.

I’ve been a long user of Macpaw’s CleanMyMac X app (free version available if not familiar with it) that scans my laptop and removes the fluff. I get satisfaction from nuking it all.

Alternative runner-up apps are Sensei and MacClean, both are good. Check them all out if you need this gap filled.

Macpaw’s CleanMyMac X app

Update Chrome

Having the latest version is always recommended. Updates are aimed at making the user experience better, and that’s what it’s about (especially if you’re an Apple user).

Being on the latest version is important because they often include critical patches to security holes. They can also improve the stability, and remove any outdated features that could jeopardise the Chrome’s operation.

To check, go to: Settings > “About Chrome”.

Manage your open tabs

I bet you have more than one tab open right now. If you’re anything like me, there are always multiple tabs open sitting there idly. These seemingly innocent tabs are making Chrome take up vital memory. The more open tabs you have, the harder Chrome needs to work. Each open tab requires resources, and these can be draining. Closing down all unwanted open tabs gives you a quick speed boost.

If you do need all tabs and aren’t ready to cull them, then I have the solution for you that's worth considering.

Just like I use with Safari, I use two vital extensions to help manage my open tab hoarding.

The first one is Session Buddy that allows you to save open tabs as collections, view and manage all open tabs in one place, search open tabs and collections to quickly find what you’re looking for.
For Safari, I use Toast.

The second one is a lightweight extension called The Great Suspender and it suspends the tabs you aren’t using after a period of time. Very configurable too.
Tab Suspender for Safari.

Check for unwanted processes

This one is a little advance if you’re unfamiliar with processes and don’t know what you’re doing but for the majority, a piece of cake.

Use the Chrome Task Manager. Task Manager gives you an excellent overview of processes and resources running. Here, you can quickly identify troublesome extensions and tabs that could be slowing you down. You can sort by memory footprint and quickly end unwanted tasks.

Go to: Menu (3 dots) > More Tools > Task Manager.

Only end tasks that you know what you’re ending.

Google Chrome’s Task Manager feature.

Review your extensions, often

Having too many extensions calls for more resource demand no matter how big. It’s not unusual for small extensions to use 50–100 MB of RAM.
Doing a review of your added extensions, culling those no longer needed or disabling those you aren’t actively using frequently will help increase performance dramatically depending on how many you have and the size.

You can even use the Task Manager (as mentioned above) to review them.

Find heavy memory consumers on your Mac

Another tip; CleanMyMac X, has a feature called Heavy Consumers that disables hidden background apps. Because not all apps can be switched off manually.

Also look into the start up app entires, disabling those apps you don’t need to run on every bootup.

And that’s a wrap.

I hope you have taken at least one thing away from this that will add value to your browsing experience.

Other than the above, there isn’t anything else I’ve implemented or note-worthy apart from if you can, stick with Safari. It was made for macOS.

Safari by far is my preferred choice of web browser, and a review of the upcoming Safari in Big Sur is in the works. So be sure to look out for it.

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Barclay Sloan

Barclay Sloan

Aspiring to be a great Writer, Marketer, Graphic Designer, Coder, Photographer, Videographer and Investor. Learning is life.