This hidden Chrome menu lets you easily test the latest browser experiments

Google Chrome
(Image credit: BigTunaOnline / Shutterstock)

Google has added a new menu option to Chrome, which will make it much easier for you to preview experimental browser features before they're officially released.

Until now, trying out Chrome features that are still in development has been a bit of a hassle. You could opt to use Chrome Beta or Canary for a glimpse of things to come, but these are unstable releases that may well contain bugs, and Google doesn't recommend you use them as your main browser.

There are also features that can't be used unless you enable a specific Chrome Flag (a type of switch accessed by visiting chrome://flags). This isn't very convenient, and turning features off can be a pain if you can't remember exactly which of the dozens of Flags you enabled.

Now, as Techdows reports, there's a new secret toolbar button that you can enable, giving you access to a simple menu for toggling experimental features on and off, called Chrome Labs.

Secret experiments

The only catch is that Chrome Labs itself is experimental right now, so using it involves going back to chrome://flags one last time, but it's something you'll only need to do once.

You'll also need to download and install the Canary build of Chrome 89 (which you can run alongside the stable build). Once you're ready, you can fire up Chrome Labs using the following steps:

  1. Launch Chrome and pay a visit to chrome://flags
  2. Search for Chrome Labs and then use the drop-down menu to select Enabled
  3. Restart the browser to activate the feature

You should immediately see that there is a new button in your Chrome toolbar. Over to the to the right of the address bar, there is a button featuring a laboratory beaker. Click this and you'll see the menu that lists which experimental features are currently available for you to try – just select 'Enabled' for any that you would like to try.

At the moment there are only two experimental features for you to test. The first is Reading List, which give you the ability to quickly add tabs to a reading list via the context menu. The second is Tab Search (previously available as a flag), which activates a handy option for searching open tabs, saving you from having to manually hunt down the one you are looking for.

Hopefully Chrome Labs will make it easier for people who aren't comfortable tinkering with Flags to test out new features – much like Firefox Test Pilot, which allowed users to add work-in-progress features to their browser in the form of user-friendly plugins.

Keep checking back to the menu, because you never know when Google may add something new for you to play with.

Sofia Elizabella Wyciślik-Wilson
Freelance writer

Sofia is a tech journalist who's been writing about software, hardware and the web for nearly 20 years – but still looks as youthful as ever! After years writing for magazines, her life moved online and remains fueled by technology, music and nature.

Having written for websites and magazines since 2000, producing a wide range of reviews, guides, tutorials, brochures, newsletters and more, she continues to write for diverse audiences, from computing newbies to advanced users and business clients. Always willing to try something new, she loves sharing new discoveries with others.

Sofia lives and breathes Windows, Android, iOS, macOS and just about anything with a power button, but her particular areas of interest include security, tweaking and privacy. Her other loves include walking, music, her two Malamutes and, of course, her wife and daughter.

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