Chrome secrets: Dig into Google's new browser

A handful of tips and tweaks to get the most out of Chrome

1 2 3 4 5 Page 2
Page 2 of 5

Give Chrome a new theme

Themes are a way to change the look and feel of a browser, including the background colors and icons. As shipped, the beta of Chrome doesn't appear to have any way to change themes, but be assured, future versions will.

In the meantime, you can change themes yourself, with a little bit of work. First, make sure that your PC is set to display hidden files via Windows Explorer. (In Windows XP, select Tools --> Folder Options, click the View tab, select "Show hidden files and folders," and click OK. In Windows Vista, launch Windows Explorer and choose Organize --> Folder and Search Options, click the View tab, select "Show hidden files and folders," and click OK.)

Once you do that, you need to locate Chrome's Themes directory. In Windows XP, go to

C:\Documents and Settings\username\

Local Settings\Application Data\Google\


In Vista, go to



In both cases, substitute your username for username.

When you're in that folder, look for a subfolder that matches Chrome's current version number -- as I write this, the version is (To find out Chrome's current version number, in Chrome click the Tools icon and select "About Google Chrome.") Then look for the Themes subfolder.

So, for example, as I write this, the themes folder in Vista is



In the folder, you'll find a file called "default.dll," which is the themes file. To use a different theme, you'll need to replace that file with a different default.dll, which contains the theme you want to use. There are quite a few of them available on the Internet, as I'll explain in a few paragraphs.

Close Chrome, then rename the default.dll file to something like "originaldefault.dll." Then copy a new theme into the directory, making sure it has the filename "default.dll." After that, launch Chrome, and your new theme will be in place. To revert to your original theme, delete or rename the new default.dll you're using, and rename "originaldefault.dll" back to "default.dll."

Google hasn't yet created themes for Chrome, but plenty of people on the Internet have already. Do a Google search for Chrome themes, and you'll find them. Try the Pitchblack theme at DeviantArt or several found at the Google Chrome themes blog. Another good place to find them is at Chromespot.

If you're a Red Sox fan like me, there's even a Red Sox Chrome theme available. It's a bit flaky, though, and reading the text on the top of your tabs can be difficult. Still, when it comes to rooting for the Sox, sacrifices are always in order.

Chrome: Red Sox theme

Go Sox! Try a new Chrome theme.

In addition, there's a beta of a Chrome theme manager called XChrome, which provides a graphical user interface for installing and managing themes. Keep in mind that it's beta, so download and use it at your own risk. The software will also ultimately be available at

Manage your downloads

Chrome's download manager is a surprisingly good one, even if it is a bit hidden. Before you start downloading, set your default download path by clicking the Tools icon, selecting Options, clicking the Minor Tweaks tab, browsing to your default download location, and clicking Close. If you want to be asked where to download a file each time, check "Ask where to save each file before downloading."

Chrome's download feature lets you pause and resume downloads. When you're downloading a file, press Ctrl-J to open the Downloads tab. From here, you can pause and resume downloads as well as manage files you've already downloaded. You can also click any download to open it, and click the "Show in folder" link to open the folder that contains the download.

Chrome: Downloads page

You can pause and resume downloads from Chrome's Downloads page.

Downloads also show up at the bottom of the tab from which you've downloaded them, as you can see below. Click the download button for each. From a menu that appears, you can open the file and open the folder that contains the file. You can also drag the button to your Desktop or a folder in Windows Explorer and move the file there.

Chrome: Downloads on tab

Downloads appear at the bottom of the browser tab.

1 2 3 4 5 Page 2
Page 2 of 5
It’s time to break the ChatGPT habit
Shop Tech Products at Amazon