Chrome For Mac: An Update

It has been sometime since I updated my chrome page. Mainly because of two things

  1. Work :)
  2. Chrome went from quite usable to unusable.

The 2nd happened when chrome turned on the flash plugin by default. The flash functionality was very rough and often a crash would take down the whole browser, negating the much touted promise of chrome, of the browser not crashing when plugins crashed. The current builds have improved the flash functionality. You can now watch youtube videos and the controls on the player work as expected. But flash in chrome is not ready yet. Viewing a youtube video in chrome, utlizies nearly 100% of CPU of my macbook (Core 2 Duo 2GHz) pushing the CPU temperatures to 75 degree Celsius (167 degrees Fahrenheit). Heat is bad for electronics especially in laptops as the ventilation is less. If you are running on battery, 100% CPU utilization will drain your battery really fast. Needless to say, viewing flash on chrome mac is bad idea.

If you are saying to yourself that "Hmm.I will watch youtube in safari or firefox", it is not going to save you. There is a lot of flash content on web especially ads which you may come across or open up unintentionally. In short, there is no escape from flash easily. Firefox has the flashblock extension and safari has the clicktoflash extension to stop loading of flash content unless you want it to. But unfortunately chrome has no such extensions.

Thankfully, you can disable flash by passing a commandline argument when you start chrome. But there is no way (at least not that i know of) to pass command line arguments to chromium if you have the icon in the dock. The only way out was to start chrome from the command line. That is quite a pain and hence I created an application ChromiumNoFlash (using Automator) which will launch chromium with the correct argument to disable flash. Download it, unzip it and run. The app assumes that you have placed the chrome (chromium) application in the Applications folder. Using a separate app to launch chromium this way, leaves you free to use flash on chrome if desired. Just start chrome as you normally would.

Before running theĀ  latest chrome build you should ideally clear your Chromium Profile. Execute this command from Terminal

rm -rf ~/Library/Application\ Support/Chromium/

Make sure not to make any mistake while typing this. rm -rf command is quite powerful and can wipe out data if you are not careful. If you are not comfortable with the command line, then using finder go to Your Home Directory -> Library -> Application Support and delete the Chromium folder inside that. There are two Library folders. Make sure you are using the one in your home directory.

The latest chrome will aslo prompt you to import bookmarks from other browsers. I chose firefox and though the process started it never completed. Your mileage may vary. Chrome will also prompt you to set it as the default browser though at this stage it is best to answer that with a "no". Apart from better bookmarking chrome has also launched support for themes. Visiting the chrome themes page will allow you install any of the themes displayed. If you disable plugins, then the theme installation may crash. So if you want to install themes but do not want flash, launch chrome normally -> install theme -> quite -> chrome -> open chrome with ChromiumNoFlash.

Bookmarking has improved in the latest builds, but without a full fledged bookmarks editor it is difficult to make the switch. The downloads in chrome now work perfectly and that's a significant milestone. The new tab page, will fill in with your most heavily used websites. You can always remove a site from this page (hover over the site icon and click the X) or make it such that a site is never displaced from that page (hover over the site icon and click the pin). You can also rearrange these sites by drag and drop. The new tab page will also show your recently closed tabs and also suggested sites which google thinks you may find interesting. The new builds are also about 30% faster in javascript benchmarks. Since other browsers are still in early stages of development with non optimized builds i'm going to refrain from making a comparison ( at least for now :) )

So that covers my absence and google chrome's new features on mac. You can expect an update when something major occurs (like flash becoming usable)

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