Optimizing Google Chrome for Windows 8.1 - dummies

Optimizing Google Chrome for Windows 8.1

By Woody Leonhard

Google Chrome on the Windows 8.1 desktop has several advantages over Internet Explorer and Firefox. Foremost among them: built-in Flash, Java, and PDF support, which greatly reduces the chances of getting stung by the largest source of infections these days.

That said, the biggest disadvantage is Google’s (readily admitted!) tendency to keep track of where you’ve been, as an adjunct to its advertising program. If you install Chrome, sign in with your Google account, and start browsing, Google knows all, sees all, saves all — unless you turn on Incognito (private) browsing.

Installing Chrome

Installing Google Chrome is like falling off a log:

  1. With any browser (even a tiled style browser), go to Chrome website.

    You probably see a big blue button that says Download Chrome.

  2. Click the button to download.

    You see a user agreement. Read all 214,197 pages of it, deselect the check box marked Set Google Chrome as My Default Browser, and click Accept and Install.

  3. Click run, or save and then run, depending on what browser you’re using to download Chrome.

    The installer takes a minute or two, and then comes up with a Welcome to Chrome page.


  4. The first time you use Chrome, it will ask if you want to Sign In to Chrome. If you want your Chrome settings to follow you, onto any computer, tablet, or phone, sign in with a Google ID, such as a Gmail address.

    You do. Syncing across many kinds of devices is one of the best parts about Chrome. Be ever mindful of the fact that Google will keep tabs on everywhere you go and use the accumulated information to dish up ads designed to convince you to click.

Navigating in Chrome

Navigation in Chrome is very similar to that in Firefox, except there’s no search bar. Chrome doesn’t need one: You just type in to the address bar.

The home page in Chrome is a little different from both IE and Firefox. The default in Chrome is to show what Chrome calls the New Tab page, which has icons to link you to the Chrome Web Store, Google Docs; YouTube (which is owned by Google, eh?); Gmail; Google Drive; and Google Search. The New Tab page adds more entries as you use the browser.

If you want to change the home page in Chrome, navigate to the page(s) you want to use. Click the triple-equal-sign on the far-right side and choose Settings. A new tab opens with various Chrome settings. Under the heading On Startup, select the option Open a Specific Page or Set of Pages, and then tap or click the link to Set Pages.

In the lower left, tap or click Use Current Pages. You see a list like the one shown. Verify that you have the right pages, and then tap or click OK.


Here’s part of the magic of Chrome: If you signed in to Chrome using a Google ID (such as a Gmail e-mail address), changing the home page(s) here will change your Chrome home pages on all the computers — whether they’re on PCs, tablets, phones — anywhere you go. Your add-ins and Favorites travel with you, too.

The following Chrome features are helpful as you move around the web using Chrome:

  • The default search engine: The default search engine setting is on the same settings tab shown. Bing is one of the listed options, but you can add just about any search engine. Compare and contrast that with IE’s default search engine hunting game.

  • Private browsing: Chrome’s version of InPrivate Browsing is called Incognito. To start a new Incognito window, click the wrench and choose New Incognito Window.

  • Bookmarks: Chrome’s Bookmarks capability is much easier to use than Firefox’s. To see why, go to a web page that you’d like to bookmark, and then click the Bookmark star icon, on the right. If you want to rearrange your bookmark folders, click the Edit button, and you can work with a full, hierarchical organization of folders.


While the Chrome Web Store won’t make you shun the iTunes Store, it comes with a few cool items, including many free versions of Angry Birds. Just start a new tab, and click the icon for the Chrome Web Store.

Chrome does have many add-ons (there’s an Adblock for Chrome, for example), but it has never reached the depth or breadth of the Firefox add-on menagerie.

Did this glimpse into optimizing Google Chrome for Windows 8.1 leave you longing for more information and insight about Microsoft’s personal computing operating system? You’re free to test drive any of the For Dummies eLearning courses. Pick your course (you may be interested in more from Windows 8.1), fill out a quick registration, and then give eLearning a spin with the Try It! button. You’ll be right on course for more trusted know how: The full version’s also available at Windows 8.1.