Browser Slow? How to Make Google Chrome Fast Again

Have you noticed your usually speedy Google Chrome browser slowing down, or even crashing on you? Unnecessary plugins, extensions, and even browsing data can slow your browser down to a crawl, or make it crash. Here’s how to fix it.

In this article, we’ll show you how to disable plugins and extensions and clear browsing data to speed up Chrome and prevent it from crashing on you.

Disable Plugins

By default, when you install Google Chrome, many unnecessary plugins are installed and enabled. Plugins help Chrome process special types of content, such as Flash, Java, Silverlight, or Windows Media files, but most of them aren’t even important to your daily browsing. Plugins can slow down the performance of Chrome, but you can disable plugins you are not using. To do this, type “about:plugins” (without the quotes) in the address bar of Chrome and press Enter.

NOTE: You can safely disable every single plugin, but you may want to keep Flash enabled, as a lot of sites use Flash to display menus, show videos, etc. Also, if you watch Netflix in Chrome, you need to keep the Silverlight plugin enabled. You can always enable a plugin again if you need to.

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A list of installed plugins displays on the current tab. Scroll through the list and click the Disable link for each plugin you feel you don’t need.

NOTE: Plugins cannot be deleted or uninstalled, only disabled. An exception would be a plugin that was installed as part of an extension and you uninstall the extension. Then, the plugin is automatically removed.

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Disabled plugins turn gray in the list, and the Disable link for each disabled plugin becomes an Enable link, allowing you to enable the plugin again, if desired.

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Disable Extensions

Extensions are small programs available in the Chrome Web Store that add extra features and functionality to Chrome. They can be very useful, but if you end up with a lot of extensions installed, the browser’s speed may be negatively affected. You can easily disable extensions without uninstalling them to gain some speed.

Some extensions install a button on Chrome’s address bar, and those can be quickly removed (Uninstalled) by right-clicking on them and choosing Uninstall from the menu.

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You can also install apps in Chrome, that are accessible on the New Tab page. These can also be disabled.

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To access your list of installed extensions and apps, click the wrench icon on the toolbar and select Tools -> Extensions from the drop-down menu. You can uninstall extensions with buttons without accessing this list, but you might be surprised that some extensions are in the list that don’t have a button.

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To disable an extension, click the Enabled check box to the right of the extension’s title in the list so there is no check mark in the box.

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The Enabled check box becomes an Enable check box, allowing you to re-enable the extension at any time.

NOTE: You can also easily remove any extensions or apps you don’t want anymore by clicking the trash can icon to the right of the Enabled check box.

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Notice that there are a lot less extensions on our toolbar now.

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Clear Browsing Data

As you browse the web, Chrome’s history database collects URLs and cached texts for websites you’ve visited, your download history, cookies, and other website and plugin data. While the point of the history and cache database are to speed up your computer by caching things locally instead of having to download every time, sometimes the history database can become very large and may slow down Chrome.

NOTE: You shouldn’t clear your history regularly for speed purposes, as that defeats the purpose of a local cache. You can certainly clear it for privacy reasons though, or if you are having an issue with a particular site.

There are several ways to clear your browsing history, including clearing your entire history and clearing the history for specific sites.

Clear Your Entire Browsing History

To clear your entire browsing history, click the wrench icon on the toolbar and select Tools -> Clear browsing data from the drop-down menu.

NOTE: Clearing your entire browsing history prevents matches from displaying when you start typing URLs in the address bar.

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In the Clear browsing data dialog, select the items you want to clear and select a time range from the drop-down list. Click Clear browsing data to clear the selected data.

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When the Clear browsing data dialog closes, the Settings tab opens. To close it, click the red X button on the tab.

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Clear Specific Items from Your Browsing History

If you want to delete the history for only specific webpages, click the wrench icon on the toolbar and select History from the drop-down menu.

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Move your mouse over a webpage you want to remove from the history list and select the check box that displays. Once you have selected all the webpages you want to remove, click Remove selected items.

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A confirmation dialog box displays. Click OK if you are sure you want to remove the webpages from the history list.

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To close the History tab, click the red X button on the tab.

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Clear Your Browsing History from the New Tab Page

The New Tab page displays thumbnails for the websites you visit most (depending on the version of Chrome you are using). You can clear your browsing history by removing these thumbnails from the New Tab page.

To remove a webpage from the New Tab page, move your mouse over the thumbnail for the site and click the X that displays in the upper, right corner of the thumbnail.

NOTE: You can reset the New Tab page to blank thumbnails by clearing your entire browsing history, as mentioned earlier.

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You can also remove a thumbnail from the New Tab page, by dragging it to the Remove from Chrome trash can, which only displays once you start dragging a thumbnail.

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Run the Google Software Removal Tool

Google just launched a new tool that will help you clean up your Chrome browser from anything that is interfering with normal operation. This can include malware and spyware that infects your Chrome installation and makes things much slower than it should.

All you need to do is navigate to www.google.com/chrome/srt/ and click the Download now button.

When it restarts it’ll ask you to reset your browser, which can be really helpful in preventing crashes and other problems.

Scan for Malware and Spyware

Unlike your antivirus software, which will usually happily allow spyware to take over your computer, an anti-malware solution will actually find, remove, and block spyware that invades your browser.

How does this apply to a Chrome speed problem? Because a lot of the spyware causes instability in your browser, which then causes other problems.

We recommend scanning with Malwarebytes and using that to remove all of the problems. It’s completely free to use, although they do have a paid version with more features like real-time blocking of spyware.

Using it couldn’t be more easy — download, install, scan, and then click the Apply Actions button to remove all of the malware. Just like vacuuming inside of your couch cushions, you’ll be shocked at how much nonsense you’ll find.

Image by cindy47452

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 01/10/15
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