Your once snappy Chrome browser is dragging, and you don’t know why. Do you blame Google, and switch to another browser to feel that new-browser smell once again? Not so fast! A browser reset is much less of a hassle, and will fix all kinds of issues—without deleting all your bookmarks and other data.

What a Browser Reset Does

Fresh out of the box, Chrome is actually a ridiculously snappy browser. Over time, however, you may notice that your experience with Chrome changes, and lightning fast turns into sort of fast which eventually turns into a slow sluggish experience. Sometime that slow sluggish experience even includes browser crashes and phantom problems like a malfunctioning search bar.

This isn’t necessarily Chrome’s fault. If you’ve been using Chrome for any period of time, you’ve likely accumulated quite a pile of extensions, cookies, site data, and other bits and pieces. While generally cookies and cached data make your browsing experience faster, extensions can weigh Chrome down quite a bit, and problems with your cookies and cached data can cause site errors, browser errors, and other problems. You might have even have ended up with a hijacked browser somewhere along the line when a malicious site tampered with settings.

RELATED: Browser Slow? How to Make Google Chrome Fast Again

You could go through all of Chrome’s different features one-by-one, attempting to optimize it for speed, but there’s also a super simple way to get back to a clean slate without the hassle of totally uninstalling Chrome and reinstalling it: a browser reset. When you reset Chrome, the following things happen:

  • Your in-browser search engine is reset to the default,
  • Your homepage and default startup tabs are reset.
  • You new tab page settings are reset.
  • Pinned tabs are erased.
  • Content settings (like which sites you’ve given access to your webcam or allowed popups from) are erased.
  • All cookies and site data are erased.
  • All extensions and themes, save for the default ones, are disabled (but not deleted).

Everything else, like your bookmarks, browser history, and saved passwords will be preserved with your Chrome user profile. What does this mean in real world use? Let’s use a site like Instapaper as a simple example: after a reset Chrome, your Instapaper login cookie will be gone, so you’ll need to log back into the site, the browser extension will be disabled (so you’ll have to go into the Settings menu to turn it back on), and if you have an Instapaper bookmarklet in your toolbar, it’ll still be sitting there because bookmarks are untouched. Any news articles you visited to clip into your Instapaper account, likewise, will still be in your browser history.

Those kind of minor inconveniences are more than worth it, however, because you’ll find that Chrome is lightning fast again when all the bloat is gone.

How to Reset Chrome

If that sounds like a detox session you’d like to sign up for, resetting Chrome is easy. Just click on the menu button in the upper right corner and select “Settings”

At the bottom of the Settings page, click on “Show advanced settings”.

Scroll way down through the now greatly expanded settings options until you reach the bottom. There, click on “Reset settings”.

Finally, you’ll be prompted to confirm the reset.

After the reset, Chrome will be out-of-the-box fast again thanks to all that purged dead weight. What happens next is on you though! Resist the urge to go into the Extensions menu and just flip your 1,001 extensions immediately back on. Instead, turn them on only as you need them and, in the case of rarely used extensions like bulk image downloaders or plugins that you use to compare prices during quarterly Steam game sales, turn them back off when you’re not using them.

Although a reset is great for dumping the clutter and dealing with an extension addiction, there are times that resetting your browser may not alleviate your speed issues or erratic behavior. If you’ve reset Chrome and are still experiencing issues, we highly recommend you download the official Google Chrome Cleanup Tool here and run it, to weed out any adware and garbage a regular reset was unable to remove.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »