There is no shortage of available browsers for our Android devices. From apps that are almost miniaturized versions of desktop browsers, with lots of features, and many options for customization, to extremely lightweight apps that emphasize speed and a low memory footprint over features, there’s a browser or two for everyone.
One of the most popular browsers, and arguably that fastest growing, is Google’s own Chrome browser. Google seems to be trying to strike a balance between features and performance with this app. It has neither as many bells and whistles as the Firefox and Dolphin browsers, nor is it as lean as something like Javelin. What it does offer is a relatively accessible user interface, a reasonable feature set, and decent performance. If you make much use of Chrome’s tabbed interface to have multiple sites open at once, there’s a simple little trick that might make a large difference in how responsive Chrome is. (On the other hand, if you never have more than one tab in use, this will probably make little, if any, difference.)
Since the initial release of Chrome, the browser is configured to use only 128 MB of RAM. This made sense in the days when the typical smartphone only had 1 GB, or even 512 MB, of RAM. It doesn’t make nearly as much sense if you’re using a high-end device with 2, or even 3 GB of memory. Fortunately, this is easy to fix. Just open a new tab in Chrome (Menu / New Tab), and type in the string below, exactly as it appears:
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Tap the button labeled “Default” below the highlighted text, and choose either “256” or “512.” Then tap the “Relaunch” button at the bottom of the screen. A few things to consider:
- It is possible to set this too high. Set it to 512MB on a phone with 1 GB of storage, and the performance of your entire phone will suffer, as apps are constantly shuffled in and out of memory. Feel free to experiment, but if you multitask a lot try 256MB on a 2 GB device, and 512GB on a 3 GB one. On the other hand, if you spend most of your time in the browser, with lots of tabs in use, you might try 512 MB even on a 2 GB device.
- You’ll notice a lot of other options you can play with on the screen above. Change them at your own risk. Google considers these experimental, and if you break the browser you’ll probably have to clear all the app’s data to get it working again. That means losing all your bookmarks and cookies.
- If you like being on the bleeding edge, Google always maintains a beta version of Chrome in the Play Store, as well as the official release. Sometimes the beta introduces neat new features. Frequently it introduces new bugs. If you want to experiment, you can download the Chrome beta here.
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