Chrome 96 logo

Google released Chrome 96 on November 16, 2021. Your Chrome browser will now use more of your system’s RAM, but for a good cause: The back and forward buttons will get even faster. There are many more changes behind the scenes, too.

Faster Back and Forward Navigation

If you’ve ever felt like Chrome is a little sluggish when you’re using the back and forward buttons, Chrome 96 aims to fix that. It’s using a new cache that saves sites you recently visited on your computer. That way, when you go back or forward, they’ll be ready quicker. This will come at the cost of Chrome using even more RAM, but it may be worth it.

PNG Files Maintain Metadata

One weird quirk of Chrome has been how it removes metadata for PNG files pasted from the clipboard. No other browser does this. Thankfully, Chrome 96 fixes this behavior. PNG files you paste into Chrome will retain all the associated metadata.

Working on Dark Mode Per-Site

Chrome 96 dark mode per site.

Chrome for mobile has had a dark mode for a while now, but Google is testing some more fine-tuned controls for it. A new flag allows you to add exceptions for sites that you don’t want to display in dark mode. This is still in the early phases of testing.

Enabling the flag adds a “Dark Theme” checkbox to the Chrome settings menu. When you uncheck the box, the site you’re currently viewing gets added to the exception list. You can always toggle dark mode back on from the menu again. This is nice for those sites that don’t look great in dark mode.

Enable the flag at chrome://flags/#darken-websites-checkbox-in-themes-setting

Preparing for Chrome 100

Next year, Chrome will reach version 100. Google is getting ready for the time of three-digit Chrome releases. Chrome 96 introduces a runtime flag that causes Chrome to return “100” in its user agent string. This new flag can be found at chrome://flags/#force-major-version-to-100 and is available from Chrome 96 onward.

What Else Is New?

Google now releases every version of Chrome every four weeks, which means the big glaring features aren’t as frequent. There’s still a lot happening under the surface, though. You can read about many of these changes on Google’s developer site as well as on the Chromium blog. We’ll highlight a few changes here:

  • Priority Hints introduces a developer-set “importance” attribute to influence the computed priority of a resource. Supported importance values are “auto”, “low”, and “high”.
  • The new autofill pseudo class enables styling auto-filled form elements.
  • Chrome will always connect to a website via HTTPS when an HTTPS record is available from the domain name service (DNS).
  • Chrome 96 is testing Google Photos for the new tab page. It’s currently only being tested in the Canary builds.

How to Update Google Chrome

Chrome will automatically install the update on your device when it’s available. To immediately check for and install any available updates, click the three-dot menu icon and click Help > About Google Chrome.

RELATED: How to Update Google Chrome

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Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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