Tag: internet guide

How to hide Google Doodles on the Chrome New Tab Page

How to hide Google Doodles on the Chrome New Tab Page

Google doodles mark important historic dates, people in history, and current events. Some doodles are static while others are quick little animations. In some cases, e.g., during the Soccer or Cricket World Cup, or the Olympics, theses doodles are small games that you can play. If you don’t like the doodles, or you end up playing them instead of working, you can choose to hide Google Doodles on the Chrome New Tab Page.

Hide Google Doodles

It’s fairly easy to hide Google doodles from the Chrome New Tab Page. You can do it by disabling a flag. Open a new tab and enter the following in the URL bar;

chrome://flags

On the Chrome flags page, search for ‘doodles’ in the search bar. You will find a flag called “Enable doodles on the local NTP” and it will be set to Default. Open the dropdown next to this flag and select the ‘Disabled’ option.

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Relaunch Chrome and open a new tab page. The Google Doodle with be gone and instead be replaced with the usual Google logo.

Google doodles are normally just images, static or animated. In some cases though, they can include a by-line. Disabling the flag will disable/hide the Google doodle but the by-line will still be present at the very bottom of the New Tab Page. There doesn’t seem to be a way to disable it but it is far less distracting than the doodle itself. For one, you can’t play it and end up wasting time, and it’s at the very bottom of the page and much easier to ignore.

There are some extensions in the Chrome Web Store that claim to be able to hide the Google doodle from the New Tab Page but they didn’t seem to work. Given a choice between an extension and disabling a flag, it’s better to go with the flag option. Extensions, while great, tend to slow Chrome down and also cause it to use more RAM.

This is a Chrome specific setting. If you visit the Google home page, or go to a Google search results page, the doodle will still appear on both pages. If you’re too tempted by it, it’s best to just type searches in the URL bar in Chrome, or use the search field on the New Tab page. There is unfortunately no escaping the doodle on the search results page but it’s smaller and off to the side so it’s far less visible.

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How to run Chrome in full screen on launch

How to run Chrome in full screen on launch

Chrome has a full screen mode that you can switch to regardless what you have open. In order to switch to full screen, you have to tap the F11 key. This full screen mode is exclusive to the tab you’re in i.e., you can’t switch to a different tab while you’re in full screen mode. You will have to exit it, select a different tab, and then tap the F11 key again to return to full screen. If you want to run Chrome in full screen on launch, and set it up so that it always opens a certain website at launch, you can do so with the use of a switch and a little change in the browser’s settings.

Chrome in full screen

In order to launch Chrome in full screen, you will have to run it from a desktop shortcut. If you’re on Windows 10, you will have to forgo launching Chrome from the Start menu.

Create a desktop shortcut for Chrome. On Windows 10, you can create this shortcut from the Start Menu. Open the Start menu and go to the apps’ list. Look for Chrome and then drag & drop its app tile on to your desktop.

Next, right-click the shortcut and select Properties from the context menu. Go to the Shortcut tab and locate the ‘Target’ field. At the very end of this field, add one space, and add the following at the very end;

--start-fullscreen

Click Apply and, then OK. If you have any Chrome windows open, you’re going to have to close them first. Next, use the shortcut you created to open Chrome and it will open in full screen. Depending on what your start up settings for Chrome are, it will open either a new tab, or a specific website.

If you need to define which website Chrome should open when you open it in full screen mode, you can do this from Chrome’s own settings. Click the more options button at the top right and select Settings from the menu. Scroll down to the On startup section and select the ‘Add a new page’ option. Enter the URL of the website you want to open. This will apply to Chrome as a whole which means that even if you’re not using the shortcut you created above to open Chrome, it will still open this website.

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If that’s a problem for you, it’s a good idea to create a separate profile and setting the start page to a specific website for that profile. You can then use another switch to run Chrome in that particular profile. Chrome can be run with multiple switches easily enough so pair the profile switch with the full screen one.

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How to limit RAM and CPU on Opera GX Gaming browser

A gaming browser is not something most people would have imagined to be a thing. There are gaming PCs, gaming consoles, gaming keyboards, and even gaming chairs but a browser is unlikely to make that list. Still, Opera has a new version of its browser called Opera GX which it says is a gaming browser.

Opera GX is still the usual Chromimum based browser with one or two features geared towards those interested in games such as Twitch integration. It also has what many browsers do not; a sound track, or more precisely, audio alerts to indicate an action. When you start the browser, it has a ‘boot’ audio. The one highlight feature it has is a RAM and CPU usage limiter that allows you to limit RAM and CPU on Opera GX. Here’s how it works.

Limit RAM and CPU on Opera GX

Download and install Opera GX. Run the browser and along the left, you will see a controls bar. If you already use Opera, you’re going to be familiar with the layout of the browser and won’t have too much trouble navigating it. If not, it’s fairly easy to learn.

Click the speed dial/GX Control in the column on the left to open the GX Control panel. It houses the RAM and CPU controls. Look for the RAM limiter, and turn it On. Select the amount of RAM you want to allow the browser to use from the slider at the bottom to limit it.

If you scroll a little further down, you will find the CPU usage control. It mimics the RAM limiter. Turn it on, and select how much of your CPU’s power you want to allow the browser to use. Opera GX doesn’t let you allocate the number of cores the browser can use.

With both RAM and CPU, you’re not free to set any limit. The RAM usage is limited in multiples of two whereas CPU usage is allocated in quarter increments i.e., 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% usage.

A browser isn’t exactly an essential, must-have, tool needed for gaming. There are some online games that you can play in your browser and maybe this browser may be a good tool to play them in. You might find other uses for this browser outside of gaming. The most popular browsers do not allow you to limit RAM, or CPU usage. At best, you can limit bandwidth in Chrome but that too is a complicated process.

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How to check for a Photoshop footprint in EXIF data

How to check for a Photoshop footprint in EXIF data

Photoshop was originally a tool for improving photos or fixing mistakes in them that couldn’t be corrected when a photo was actually taken. It’s a powerful bit of software so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if it’s used for more than just its intended use. Of course, no one could imagine it would be popular with Instagram users. If you happen to come across an image that you suspect is Photoshopped, and you can’t tell just by looking, there’s still a chance you will find a Photoshop footprint in the EXIF data. Here’s how to look for it.

Photoshop footprint in EXIF data

There’s no shortage of tools for viewing EXIF data. You can find web apps, desktop apps for Windows, macOS, and Linux, and mobile apps that do the job. The results may vary in that some apps may not display all the data that is stored in an image.

For this specific purpose, i.e., to find the Photoshop footprint in EXIF data, you can use a web app called Exifdata.

Visit the web app and upload the photo you want to check for the Photoshop footprint. The image should not be larger than 20MB. Once uploaded, the app will reveal the EXIF data that it’s found.

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Under ‘XMP Toolkit’ and ‘Creator Tool’ look for anything related to Adobe and any mention of Photoshop. In the screenshot above, Exifdata not only indicates that the image has been passed through Photoshop (notice the very obvious brush stroke on the image), but also that it was edited on a Windows system.

Is EXIF data wrong?

Technically, EXIF data can be removed from an image and it can be edited. There are quite a few EXIF data editors available for free use. Additionally, someone editing an image in Photoshop may have the foresight to remove or prevent this information from being added to an image in the first place. Last, if the image you’re checking was downloaded from a web service e.g., a social media website, it is possible that the website removed some of the data when the original uploaded added it.

If you do need to investigate an image, the EXIF data is a good place to start for two reasons; it can be independently verified by anyone, and it’s quick. On this same note, remember to not use this method maliciously. You might want to use it to verify if a photo of a UFO landing is real or not, but using it on someone’s vacation photos to prove they’re not real is a bit much.

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How to fix Chrome error code: 4 0x80070005 on Windows 10

How to fix Chrome error code: 4 0x80070005 on Windows 10

Chrome is a stable application on all platforms that it is available for however, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t run into problems. It has a built-in Reset feature which allows you to fix the browser if it’s been hijacked by a malicious extension, or if the settings you’ve tweaked have made it unstable. The reset can’t fix everything, especially if the problem is on the OS level and not with the browser itself. That’s the case with Chrome error code: 4 0x80070005. The code prevents the browser from being updated where normally it can update automatically. Here’s how to fix it.

Fix Chrome error code: 4 0x80070005

This error appears when you try to update Chrome and it’s because a service that is supposed to run when you check for updates isn’t available. It’s either not running or the service has been deleted. In either cases, the simplest way to fix Chrome error code: 4 0x80070005 is to install Chrome again.

You won’t have to delete the current installation of Chrome. All you have to do is visit the Chrome download page, download the installer, and run it like you normally do. The newest version, or even the current version, will be installed over the current one. All your data, profiles, bookmarks, history, new tab page, etc., will all remain perfectly intact.

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It’s a good idea to close Chrome when it’s installing however, if you have it open, you can simply relaunch it and the new version will be installed.

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This error, and many others like it, can often be resolved by doing an in-place installation of Chrome. You can try searching online to figure out which service is missing or checking the list of services on Windows 10 that are related to a Chrome error and manually starting them as well but this solution is much simpler than doing any of that.

This error may appear on other operating systems as well where Chrome updates differently. It is still worth trying this method. If your OS doesn’t allow you to do an in-place installation, you might have to do a clean installation. In this case, use Chrome’s sync feature first to back up your history, bookmarks, and profile. If you’re unable to use Chrome Sync, locate your Chrome profile folder and back it up somewhere before you proceed with a clean installation.

It is also worth checking if you’ve enabled anything on your desktop that prevents automatic services or app updates from running.

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How to back up a Chrome extension

How to back up a Chrome extension

Chrome extensions exist in one of two places; in the Chrome web store, or literally anywhere a developer deems fit to distribute them from. Developers mostly user Github when it comes to distributing an extension outside the Chrome web store and they resort to this when an extension is unlikely to be approved. The extensions in the Chrome web store have all been approved by Google however, they may still be removed any time. A developer may decide to pull their extension from the store or Google might change its mind and remove it. In either case, it’s a good idea to back up a Chrome extension that you absolutely cannot work without. Here’s how.

Back up Chrome extension

In order to back up a Chrome extension, it must still be available in the Chrome web store. That is where you will download the file from. In order to download an extension from the Chrome web store and not install it automatically, you need to install the Get CRX extension from the Chrome web store.

Once installed, navigate to the Chrome web store page of the extension you want to back up. Click the Get CRX extension’s button next to the URL bar and select the ‘Get CRX of this extension’ option from the context menu. CRX is the file format for Chrome extension files.

Select where you want to save the file, and it will download in a few seconds. This CRX file can now be installed and you no longer need to visit the Chrome web store page for it.

Install a CRX file

To install the extension that you backed up, navigate to the CRX file and use any archiving utility to extract it. Don’t worry that it is not a ZIP or RAR file. Once it has been extracted, open Chrome and click the more options menu at the top right. Select More Tools>Extensions.

On the Extensions page, enable Developer mode. Next, click the Load Unpacked button and select the folder that the extension was extracted to. The extension will be installed.

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It’s worth mentioning that these extensions won’t update automatically. If you want them to update automatically, you will have to install them from the Chrome Web Store. This method should only be used if you’re afraid an extension might be removed from the store and you will lose access to it. Remember that some extensions might be pulled from the store if they pose a security risk and if you continue to use it via the back up you took, you are putting yourself at risk as well.

Finally, using this method to get an extension, repacking and redistributing it is not only unethical but also a crime.

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How to change a Firefox preference value

How to change a Firefox preference value

Firefox is a modern web browser with an extensive list of features and quite a few customization options. End users can customize how the browser works via its Options window however, Firefox has other settings that users can change from its about:config page. This page lists settings that are otherwise inaccessible from the main settings’ panel. Here’s how you can change a Firefox preference value.

Firefox preference page

Open Firefox and in the URL bar, enter the following;

about:config

Tap Enter and you will see warning telling you that if you tamper with the settings on the next page, you might void your ‘warranty’. This basically means Mozilla isn’t responsible if the browser crashes or if you happen to lose anything as a result of the crash. It also means that if you disable any security setting, and as a result, your data is stolen, the browser isn’t responsible. Accept the warning and you’ll be taken to the Firefox preference page.

Change preference value

The preference page, as you will see, is long and the preferences don’t have user friendly names. This means that if you intend to change a Firefox preference, you should already know what it’s called. New preferences are added to the browser as it updates over time and some preferences may also be removed.

Preference value

In order to change a Firefox preference, you must first know what kind of values it is capable of holding. Preferences hold two different types of values.

A preference can have one of the following values;

0 = Allowed

1 = Blocked

2 = Prompt

If you set the value of a preference to 0, whatever feature it controls will be enabled. If you set its value to 1, the feature will be blocked. If you set the value to 2, you will be asked if you want to run the feature.

The second type of value a preference can have is either True or False. This is far easier to understand and it is mostly for services instead of features e.g., is a certain service allowed to run in your browser.

Changing values

Double click a preference. If a value data box opens, it means you’re dealing with the first type of preference that can hold three different values. Enter the one you want to set for it. If a preference’s default value is either true or false, double-clicking it will change it.

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Reset values

Any time you want to reset a Firefox preference back to its default value, right-click it and select Reset from the context menu. If a preference is in bold text, it means that it is not set to its default value. Preferences in normal, non-bold text are all in their default states.

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How to force Chrome to prioritize URLs over search terms

How to force Chrome to prioritize URLs over search terms

Chrome remembers what terms you’ve recently searched for. It’s been able to do this for quite a while. The URL bar, or the omnibar, in Chrome can look up your recent searches, frequently visited URLs, and bookmarks. Lately, Chrome has begun to prioritize searches over URLs. This means that if you recently searched for ‘yeti pictures’ and later type in Y in the URL bar expecting the first result to be YouTube, you’re instead going to get ‘Yeti pictures’ as the first option. YouTube will likely be in the list of suggestions, just further down. This is a bug. Here’s how you can force Chrome to prioritize URLs over search terms.

Force Chrome to prioritize URLs over searches

Open Chrome and in the URL bar, enter the following;

chrome://flags

Tap enter to go to the Chrome Flags page. Use the search bar at the top to look for a flag called “Omnibox Google Drive Document Suggestions”. Open the dropdown next to it, and select Disabled from the menu. Relaunch Chrome and it should start prioritizing URLs over search results.

This is a bug, not a feature. If you decide to set the value of this flag to Enabled, Chrome will not start to prioritize search results over URLs. It doesn’t work both ways. This flag is meant to show items from your Google Drive when you search in the URL bar in Chrome. For some reason, it fixes whatever is causing the bug.

The bug doesn’t effect all users but it does seem to effect a good number of them. It’s possible it might fix itself if you reset Chrome or do a clean install of the browser however, if you’re not willing to try that at the risk that it may not work, this fix really is the best option.

An update to the browser may fix the problem as well. If this flag doesn’t do the trick, wait a few weeks for the next Chrome update to arrive. It is possible that a simple update will do the trick. Google hasn’t acknowledged this bug so the next update isn’t likely going to contain an explicit fix for it but an update may fix whatever is broken.

If you’re looking for a way to remove a search result altogether from the omnibox, regardless of what order it appears in, you can do so by tapping the Shift+Delete key on your keyboard with the search term highlighted. If you search for the same term again though, it will return and you will have to remove it again.

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How to close the Chrome Downloads bar with a hotkey

How to close the Chrome Downloads bar with a hotkey

Chrome’s download bar is an odd element of the browser’s UI which otherwise focuses on being minimal. It appears when you download a file, and sticks around even after the download is complete. You can close it by clicking the close button but that is something that annoys users since there’s no hotkey to do the trick. You can hide the Chrome Downloads bar if you want, but if you really prefer to close the Chrome Downloads bar, an extension called Close download bar will let you do it with a hotkey.

Ideally, Chrome users would prefer the Downloads bar dismiss itself when a download is complete. Unfortunately, Google is not interested in adding this feature any time soon and extensions aren’t able to do the job either. This is possibly because Google blocks it which is why a hotkey to close the Chrome Downloads bar is our best option.

Close Chrome Downloads bar

Download Close download bar from the Chrome Web Store.

When the downloads bar appears, tap the Alt+W and it will close the Downloads bar. You can tap the hotkey any time you want, even if a file or multiple files are downloading since that is the default behavior of the Downloads bar.

Close download bar doesn’t have a lot of options however, it does let you change the hotkey that you use to close the Chrome Downloads bar. To change the hotkey, right-click the extension’s icon and select Options from the context menu.

It will take you to the extension’s Chrome page with the a pop up that lets you change the hotkey. Click the Change option and record the new hotkey that you want to use. Record it for the ‘Close download bar’ option and not for the ‘Activate the extension’ option.

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Users have wanted a way to auto-dismiss the Downloads bar for a long time. In fact, if you check Google’s product forums, you find users regularly asking for ways to do this over the past few years. Google and Chrome’s product team don’t really offer explanations as to why this isn’t something they might consider so users are stuck with what they have.

Firefox does this much better than Chrome. Instead of an entire bar at the bottom, it has a little button next to the URL bar which, when clicked, reveals the downloaded files. You can mimic this in Chrome with an extension called Download Manager which disables the Downloads bar.

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How to play classic Minecraft in a browser

How to play classic Minecraft in a browser

Minecraft turned 10 this year and in celebration, Mojang not only offered a reasonable discount for the game which is something that never happens, but also released classic Minecraft for free. Classic Minecraft is Minecraft when it was first developed. It was basic, to say the least. You had very few blocks to build with and, unfortunately, no evil mobs to fight off. Here’s how you can play classic Minecrafft in a browser.

Play Classic Minecraft

Classic Minecraft has limitations, as you can guess. For one, you cannot save a game, you can’t use your usual Minecraft/Mojang/Microsoft account to login, you cannot join any existing server games, and basically anything to do with your main account will not work with it.

You need a fairly modern browser for this. Chrome and Firefox will do. You need a keyboard and a mouse to play. Even if you have a game controller connected to your system, it will not work with the game.

You can play together with up to nine players, and you can have a small, medium, or huge map to play on. Visit this page, and it will generate a new game for you. Enter a nickname for yourself. The game will give you a link that you can share with your friends and invite them to play the same game.

You get a brief overview of the controls and since they’re basic, there isn’t much for you to learn. There are no tools so items all ‘break’ with one click, and are similarly placed with another.

The WASD keys are used for movement, the Spacebar for jumping, and F for toggling fog.

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While this isn’t going to take as much toll on your system as the actual game played as a desktop app, it’s still going to consume lots of RAM through your browser. It’s a good idea to make sure nothing on your system is consuming too much RAM. Close other tabs when you play.

We’ll be honest; this isn’t a super-immersive experience. You won’t be playing for hours. It’s a bit of nostalgia which is good in moderation. You’re basically playing the game in creative mode; you can build what you want with whatever blocks are available to you. If your friends join in, you can build together.

If you initiate a game, and leave it when there are no other players in the game, the game will be lost/end. If there are other players in the game, you can rejoin it by visiting its link.

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