Google modifies Chrome's Tab Context Menu heavily

If you run Google Chrome Canary, the cutting edge development version of the Chrome browser, you may have noticed that Google modified the Tab context menu heavily.
A right-click on a tab in the Chrome browser displays a number of options that are mostly tab-related. The menu lists options to create a new tab, pin a tab, close a tab, bookmark all tabs, or undo the last closed tab among other things.
Going forward, some of these options may no longer be available in the context menu. A right-click on a tab in Chrome Canary displays the following options only: Reload, Duplicate, Pin, Mute site, Close, Close tabs to the right.

The options to create a new tab, duplicate, close other tabs, reopen closed tab, and bookmark all tabs have been removed from the menu.
Google moved some of these to the context menu of the tab bar instead. When you right-click on the tab bar, you will see three of the missing options — new tab, reopen closed tab, bookmark all tabs — there.
The duplicate option appears to have been removed completely.

Why is Google planning to make the change? A chromium commit provides the following explanation:
Update tab and frame context menus to match most recent UX specs.
This removes four entries from the tab context menu; changes the text on several
others to stop saying “tab(s)” explicitly; adds one entry to the frame context
menu; and changes the bookmark-related menu entry strings from “page” to “tab”
for consistency.
Most of the file changes here are due to renaming enums/APIs to match the string
According to the commit, context menus are updated to match user experience specifications. Development is very data driven; it seems likely that Google looked at usage numbers as well before it started to move items around or remove them entirely.
Closing Words
Some of the moved options can still be triggered with shortcuts, e.g. Ctrl-T to open a New Tab. Still, the removal will impact Chrome users who used some of the removed context menu options when they used the browser.
One of Chrome’s biggest strengths up to this point was consistency. Google did not really make many changes that affected the workflow of Chrome users. Google made some changes recently that affected the experience of Chrome users. The sign-in sync of Google sites and Chrome, or the hiding of important information in the address bar (which Google pulled and reinstated in Chrome 76) are just two examples. Both of these received edits after launch.
The planned switch to a new manifest for Chrome extensions could affect existing extensions, e.g. content blockers, significantly as well.
The changes to Chrome’s tab context menu are not a done deal yet and it is possible that Google is restoring some options to the context menu before the changes land in Stable. Still, it is another change that will impact the experience of Chrome users.
Now You: Which tab options do you use regularly? What is your take on the removal?
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Google starts integration of password checker in Chrome browser

Google’s Chrome web browser supports password saving and management options just like any other modern web browser. The browser offers to save passwords by default when it recognizes that a user enters login data on sites to improve the next sign-in by filling out the username and password fields automatically.
Passwords can be managed in Chrome, and there is even an option to manage passwords remotely. Google published a Password Checkup extension in 2019 for Chrome that checks the hashes of passwords that users enter in Chrome against a database of leaked passwords.
Password databases that are dumped or stolen may leak on the Internet and become public knowledge. Google is not the first company to use the data for checks; you may use services to find out if your email address leaked or if passwords are known.
Some password managers, KeePass being my favorite, support options to check passwords locally, and Mozilla launched Firefox Monitor recently in Firefox and plans to extend the functionality further.
The most recent version of Google Chrome Canary includes a new experimental flag that unlocks native password checking functionality. Instead of having to install the extension that Google created to check the password hashes, Chrome users who enable it get direct information whenever they enter a password on the Web.

Since it is an experimental feature it is necessary to enable it first. Note that you need the most recent version of Chrome Canary, the cutting edge development version of Chrome for that.
Experimental features do land in other versions of Chrome usually. Sometimes, they are integrated natively at one point in time so that it is no longer necessary to enable these features manually first. These features may be removed as well, there is no guarantee that they become available to Stable users of the browser.
Here is what you need to do to enable the feature:

Load chrome://flags in the browser’s address bar.
Search for Password Leak Detection.
Change the status from Default to Enabled.
Restart Chrome

The leak detection is active after the restart. Chrome checks the hash of the password against a database of hashes that Google maintains. It displays a notification to the user if the hash is found in the database; this is a strong indicator that the password is not safe to use. Chrome users should change the password immediately to protect the account.
Closing Words
Web browsers are a natural fit for password safety checks and the integration of monitoring systems makes a lot of sense. Some users may dislike that the browsers send password hashes to servers on the Internet for verification; Firefox Monitor and Password Leak Detection are optional features at this point in time.
I prefer to store passwords in KeePass and not in the browser, but that is just my personal preference.
Now You: What is your take on these new password leak checks that browser makers integrate in their browsers? (via Techdows)
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Google Chrome 82 won't support FTP anymore

Google Chrome 82 won’t support FTP anymore according to the recently published “Intent to Deprecate: FTP Support” document by Google.
All modern web browsers support FTP at the time of writing. Users may click on ftp:// links or type them manually in the browser’s address bar to open a connection to the site.
Google argues that the implementation of FTP in Chrome does not support encrypted connections and that usage is too low, the company said that 0.1% of users use FTP, to justify spending resources on integrating secure FTP functionality in the browser.

The company opened a bug on the official Chromium bug tracker in 2015 to remove built-in support for FTP from Chrome and this bug has been revived recently to remove FTP components from Chrome.
A bug was filed by Mozilla on Bugzilla, Firefox’s bug tracking site that referred to Google’s bug; Mozilla decided against the removal at the time and the last entry dates back two years.
Mozilla did implement an option in Firefox 60 in 2018 however to disable FTP support in the browser.
Chrome 72 started to block support for fetching resources from FTP and rendering top level FTP resources, Firefox 61 introduced the blocking of resources from FTP as well, and Chrome 76 dropped proxy support for FTP.
Google made the decision to remove the two remaining FTP capabilities from Google Chrome, namely displaying a FTP directory listing and downloading resources from FTP directly.
We would like to deprecate and remove this remaining functionality rather than maintain an insecure FTP implementation.
The timeline for FTP deprecation in Chrome:

Chrome 78: Start of FTP deprecation. Finch controlled flag and enterprise policy for controlling overall FTP support
Chrome 80 (Q1 2020): gradual turndown of FTP in stable.
Chrome 82: FTP related code and resources are removed.

When Chrome 82 or newer encounter FTP resources, Chrome attempts to redirect the request to the default FTP handler on the system. Google has not revealed how it plans to handle configurations in which Chrome is the default FTP handler.
Chrome users who use to load PAC scripts from FTP need to “migrate to other means for fetching PAC scripts” according to Google once Chrome 82 is released to the stable channel. Under 0.0002% of users fetch PAC scripts over FTP according to Google.
Are companies that develop browsers based on Chromium affected by the decision as well? Yes they are as Vivaldi, Microsoft, Opera or Brave all use Chromium as the base. Companies who want to continue supporting FTP would have to change the code to make sure support remains available in the browser.
It seems likely that most browsers won’t support FTP anymore at the end of 2020. FTP is not going away just yet though; FTP clients, e.g. FileZilla or FTP Rush are available and may be used to access these resources.
Now You: What is your take on the FTP deprecation in Chrome? (via Techdows)
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Chrome Web Store has 188k extensions with at least 1.2 billion installs

The Chrome Web Store for Chrome extensions hosts more than 188k extensions that have a total installation count of at least 1.23 billion; a scan by Extension Monitor brought additional details to light.
Only 13 Chrome extensions have more than 10 million users, the largest user count group that the Store uses. These 13 extensions have more than 10 million users but the exact number is not revealed.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are more than 19k extensions with 0 installs, and 50% that have fewer than 16 installs.
Extensions with fewer than 1000 installations make up about 87% of all Chrome extension installations.
Tip: check out our list of the top Chrome extensions and top Firefox add-ons.

As far as top extensions with more than 10 million installations is concerned, it can be divided into two groups: extensions that get installed by a service or software installation, and extensions that get installed manually by users.
The following extensions are on the list at the time of writing:

Adblock Plus
Adobe Acrobat
Avast Online Security
Avast SafePrice
Cisco Webex Extension
Google Translate
Grammarly for Chrome
Pinterest Save Button
uBlock Origin

Three of the top 13 extensions are content blockers, two price comparison extensions, and five can be linked to popular programs or services.
The next tier, extensions with less than 10 million installs consists of ten additional extensions, all with an installation count of more than 6.8 million.
These are:

Amazon Assistant for Chrome
Avira Browser Safety
AVG SafePrice
Google Hangouts
Google Photos
Hola Free VPN Proxy Unblocker
LastPass: Free Password Manager
Rung Rinh
Video Downloader for Chrome

Two official Google extensions, two extensions by security companies, the first video downloader, and others make up this group.
One surprising takeaway from the data that Extension Monitor published is that 8.9% of extensions fall into the paid category. Paid extensions are further divided into those that require payment upfront and those that use in-extension purchases.
While paid extensions make up 8.9% of all extensions in the Chrome Web Store, they make up less than 2.6% of all installs. The distribution is similar to that of free extensions. The top five paid extensions make up 48.5% of all paid installs. The dominant paid extension is IE Tab with 4.1 million installs (31.5%):

Gantter Project Management
IE Tab
Lucidchart Diagrams
Polarr Photo Editor

Comparison to Firefox extensions
Mozilla lists installs for all Firefox add-ons on the official Mozilla AMO website. Ten Firefox extensions with more than 1 million installs are listed on AMO currently. The top extension, Adblock Plus, has roughly 9 million installs.
Adblockers make up the bulk of top Firefox extensions and you find several that made up the Chrome top list as well.
Firefox users have an advantage when it comes to video downloaders as Chrome extensions face limitations imposed by Google (no YouTube dowloads).
Closing Words
Is the number of installations an important metric? It is an indicator and it is certainly the case that extensions with lots of installs are pushed more than extensions with fewer installs.
Now You: Do you take installs into account when installing browser extensions?
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Get rid of all the clickbait YouTube video thumbnails

Clickbait Remover for YouTube is a browser extension for Google Chrome that removes clickbait video thumbnails on the video hosting and streaming site.
YouTube publishers have several options when it comes to the selection of a video thumbnail for uploaded videos. Publishers may use a frame of the uploaded video as the thumbnail or another image; the latter does not need to be from the video and some publishers use it effectively by selecting thumbnails that don’t necessarily reflect the content of the video.
Common clickbait thumbnails include exaggerations, stylized thumbnails, or thumbnails of barely clothed women. Basically, any thumbnail that is designed primarily to attract the attention of the YouTube visitor instead of depicting the actual video content is considered clickbait.
Note: The extension requests access to the browsing history currently. The developer changed that so that it does not need to request the — rather scary — permission anymore. A new version has been uploaded to the Chrome Web Store and will be made available in the coming days.  Interested users may check the source on GitHub for verification.
Clickbait Remover for YouTube addresses the issue directly. It is designed to replace video thumbnails on YouTube with a frame from the video. The extension uses an official YouTube feature for that; the service creates video thumbnails automatically when videos are uploaded and preserves those even if the publisher picks a custom video thumbnail for the uploaded video.

A frame from the start of the video is picked automatically by the extension. A click on the extension icon in the Chrome toolbar displays options to change that to a frame from the middle of the video or the end of the video.
There is also an option to use the default thumbnail image selected by the publisher; may be useful to compare the publisher’s selected thumbnail image with the images taken directly from the video.
The extension may also adjust the titles of YouTube videos by forcing them to be all lowercase or capitalizing the first letter only; this takes care of publishers that use all-caps in titles to draw even more attention to their videos.
The extension works on all pages on YouTube including searches, the homepage, trending pages, channels, or the subscriptions page.  The extension should work in other Chromium-based browsers such as Vivaldi, Opera, Brave, or Microsoft Edge but I did not test that.
Closing Words
Clickbait Remover for YouTube is a useful extension that deals with certain forms of clickbait on YouTube. It replaces custom video thumbnail images with stills from the video itself; this deals with clickbait attempts and gives users a better idea of a video’s quality and content.
Now You: what do you do when you encounter clickbait on YouTube or elsewhere?
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Chrome 76: no more https or www in address bar

Google Chrome users who upgraded the stable version of the web browser to the recently released Chrome 76 version may have noticed that Chrome does not display https or www anymore in the browser’s address bar.
Google made the change in 2018 for the first time when it released Chrome 69 but had to undo it after user outcry over the removed feature. Back then, Google decided to remove what it called trivial subdomains like www. or m. to display only the root domain in the address bar; this lead to issues on sites that supported several of the trival subdomains as it was no longer possible to look at the address to verify the active site.
Google called these subdomains trivial because it believed that most Internet users would not require the information.
Google did state back then that it would remove certain trivial subdomains again at a later point in time. It appears that the time has come, as Chrome 76 hides the www part of the domain name and the https:// protocol information from its address bar.
Check out how the Ghacks homepage URL is displayed in Google Chrome 76:

Chrome stripped https://www. from the address leaving just in the address bar. The lock icon does indicate that the site uses HTTPS but Google plans to remove it as well in the future.
You may wonder why Google decided to make the change. Google engineer Emily Schechter revealed Google’s intention on the official Chromium bug page.
The Chrome team values the simplicity, usability, and security of UI surfaces. To make URLs easier to read and understand, and to remove distractions from the registrable domain, we will hide URL components that are irrelevant to most Chrome users. We plan to hide “https” scheme and special-case subdomain “www” in Chrome omnibox on desktop and Android in M76.
According to the post, Google believes that certain parts of the URL are distracting and irrelevant to most Chrome users.
Chrome users need to click twice in the URL bar to display the full address of the page. It is unclear why Google believes that clicking twice and not once is right when it comes to that but that is far from the only issue that users may experience once they upgrade to Chrome 76.
Users who try to copy just the domain part of an address will notice that Chrome adds the protocol and www. if used to the copied address automatically. There is no option to prevent this from happening right now; users who just want the domain need to process the copied text before they may use it as intended.
Another issue that users may run into is when a site uses www exclusively. Chrome displays the domain without www only and some users may try to load the domain without www as a consequence in the future. If there is no redirect, Chrome will display a 404 not found error instead.

It is too early to tell if companies who use Chromium as the source for browsers will follow Google’s lead. Browsers like Microsoft Edge, Opera, Brave, or Vivaldi all use Chromium and if developers don’t make changes to the source code, will follow Chrome in displaying less information in the address bar.
Chrome 76 supports two experimental flags currently that reverts the change. These flags will be removed eventually from Chrome, however.

Load chrome://flags/#omnibox-ui-hide-steady-state-url-scheme and set the state to Disabled to always display the URL scheme, e.g. HTTPS, in the Chrome address bar.
Load chrome://flags/#omnibox-ui-hide-steady-state-url-trivial-subdomains and set the state to disabled to display trivial subdomains all the time.
Restart Google Chrome.

Closing Words
As far as I’m concerned, I prefer if browser’s display all information and both the protocol and the www subdomain are vital parts of the address and should not be hidden; especially so if the hiding may lead to confusion or problems.
Google seems intent to go forward with the change on desktop and on Android. Unless there is an equally large outcry about the change, it is unlikely that Google will revert it for a second time.
I think that Google is just starting with pushing certain changes in Chrome and most of the web, and not all of them are in the best interest of Internet users.
Now You: What is your take on the change? (via Bleeping Computer)
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How to search all Chrome extensions for the dangerous unsafe-eval

In this guide, I will show you how you can search all installed Chrome extensions for the dangerous unsafe-eval content security policy. The method may also work for extensions installed in other browsers provided that the extension files are readable in plain text.
A new scandal surrounding a number of extensions that recorded and sold browsing data of users made the news last week. More than 4 million browser installations were affected this time and it was just the latest in a series of privacy related issues surrounding shady browser extensions.
The extensions in questions used a well documented Content Security Policy directive called unsafe-eval to download the remote payload and start the collecting and transferring of browsing data.
Chrome extensions need to declare unsafe-eval in the extension manifest to make use of it. The Chrome web store does not highlight the use and the extensions are clean otherwise when they are uploaded to the store by the developer.
Raymond Hill, the developer of uBlock Origin described the issue surrounding these malicious extensions that downloaded a payload to the user system after installation in the following way:
For an extension to be able to execute remote code in their own context, they need to explicitly declare `unsafe-eval` in their manifest.json.
In other words: these extensions declared unsafe-eval so that they could download the payload at a later point in time.
Hill recommends that users avoid any extension that declares unsafe-eval; that requires that users check the manifest file of the extension before they hit the “add to Chrome” button, however.

We published a Chrome extensions verification guide in 2015, a good resource to verify any Chrome Web Store extension before installation.
Here is a short overview since you may not want to read the entire long guide.

Download the Chrome Extension Source Viewer extension.
Open the profile page of the extension that you want to check.
Click on the CRX icon of the Chrome Extension Source Viewer extension and select “View Source”.
Select the manifest.json file and check for unsafe-eval, e.g. by using F3 to open the on-page search.

What about installed extensions?

While you could open the manifest.json file of each of the installed extensions to find out if any used the unsafe-eval declaration, you may also search across all of them at once to speed up the process.
Here is how that is done:

Download the great tool Everything to your system. You may also use other text editors that support searching file content, e.g. UltraSearch or Notepad++.
Start the program by right-clicking on it and selecting “run as administrator”.
Select Search > Advanced Search.
Type unsafe-eval in the “A word or phrase in the file” field.
Select the c: drive (or the equivalent on your system), or pick the extensions directory right away.

To find the path, load chrome://version/ in the address bar.
Copy the profile path value, e.g. C:UsersMartinAppDataLocalGoogleChromeUser DataProfile 1
Paste it into the “located in” field.

Make sure “include subfolders” is selected.
Hit ok.

Everything searches the entire folder structure and all files for the selected phrase. Focus on manifest.json files and double-click on them to open them in the default text editor. Use the built-in search to search for unsafe-eval to verify the finding.
The same method should work for most other browsers.
Now You: do you verify extensions before you install them?
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FasterChrome speeds up Chrome browsing

FasterChrome is a new browser extension for Google Chrome that speeds up browsing in the web browser by preloading certain pages.
Google Chrome uses preloading by default to speed up browsing. Google changed the “use a prediction service” to “preload pages for faster browsing and searching” in Chrome 73, but the general idea behind the feature has not changed.
When enabled, Google Chrome will run DNS look ups for links automatically and preload resources that it considers high priority. The downside to that is that Chrome may save cookies to the system from sites that the user never visits.

FasterChrome by the makers of InstantPage introduces a different form of preloading to Chrome. The main idea behind the extension is to preload resources when a user’s action has a high probability of being executed.
When a user hovers over a link for at least 65 milliseconds, the linked resource is preloaded by the extension. The developers note that this reduces the average page load time by 300 milliseconds and that it works best on pages of the same domain as that is where the effect is most noticeable.
The extension requires read and write access to all data on websites that are visited in the browser. FasterChrome places an icon in Chrome’s main toolbar but displays no options when you activate the icon; in fact, it comes without any options at all.
FasterChrome works automatically on any page you visit in the Chrome web browser and on most links. The extension won’t preload pages with “?” parameters, e.g. sign-out pages if they use it. It is still possible that you may be logged out automatically if you hover over a sign-out page on a site for to long.
Closing Words
How effective is FasterChrome in speeding up browsing in the Chrome browser? I say it depends; if you are on a fast Internet connection, you probably won’t see much of a difference. If your Internet connection is not super-fast, you may see a noticeable difference on some link clicks.
If you notice a delay between link clicks and page loads, this is something you might want to give a try to see if it speeds things up for you.
Now You: What is your take on preloading?
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Volume Master for Chrome: control and boost per-tab audio volume

Volume Master is a browser extension for the Google Chrome web browser to control and boost the volume of audio playing on a per-tab basis.
When you open a site with audio, you get at the most two options to control the volume. One option is provided by the operating system and it is always available. It changes the volume of the entire web browser, however.
The second option is provided by the browser or the site the audio is playing on. You may get individual volume controls, or may use the browser’s muting functionality to mute audio playback.
Extensions may improve the default functionality. Tab Muter for Chrome adds options to mute individual tabs in the browser.
Volume Master

Volume Master adds volume control options to the Chrome browser. One of its main features is that it can be used to change the volume of each tab individually. If you happen to play a too loud or barely audible video or audio clip in Chrome in a tab, you may use it to either reduce the volume of that tab or boost the volume by up to 600%, all without changing the default volume of the web browser or impacting the volume in any other browser tab.
All you need to do is click on the extension icon in the tab that is playing audio. The extension displays a volume slider that you may use to change the volume. The icon of the extension indicates the volume level at any time so that you see it on first glance.
Boosting works similarly to reducing the volume, only that you don’t stop at 100% but can jack the volume up to 600%.  The change takes effect immediately so that you may adjust the volume as you see fit.
Another useful feature is the listing of all tabs with audio playback right in the interface. A click on a listing switches to the tab right away so that you may control the audio or other functionality on that tab.
Closing Words
Volume Master is a useful extension for Google Chrome that improves volume management in the browser. It adds options to boost volume by up to 600% for individual tabs that play audio in the browser.  An option to set a custom volume for individual sites is not available though.
The extension should work in other Chromium-based browsers as well.
Now You: How do you manage audio playback in your browser of choice?
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Google is testing new Play Control button in Chrome Taskbar

Google Chrome may soon get a Play Control button in the Chrome taskbar when a video or other media is playing in the browser.
May, because the feature is tested currently. While plenty of tests made it into final versions of Chrome, there is an even larger number of tests that never made it.
The feature landed in Chrome Canary recently; Chrome users may enable it and start using it. Since it is an experimental flag, bugs are to be expected, and this one is quite buggy at the time of writing.
First, the basics. You need to run the latest Chrome Canary release if you want to test it right now. It is now enabled by default so that you won’t see the Play icon if you play a video on YouTube or elsewhere.
What you need to do is load chrome://flags/#global-media-controls in the Chrome address bar and set the flag Global Media Controls to enabled. Its description reads “Enables the Global Media Controls UI in the toolbar” and it is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux only. A restart of the browser completes the process.

A visit to YouTube and the playing of a video on the site shows the Play Control button in the Chrome main interface. That’s also the time were you will run into bugs; Chrome may crash after a short while and there is nothing that you can do about it.
When you activate the Play Control with a click or tap, you will see a thumbnail of the video, the URL it is played on, and the title of it. Controls to pause or play the video, and to go back and forward in the video are provided as well.
The control is displayed on any tab that is open in the browser, even in different browser windows. Means: you can control the playback of media right from there without having to switch to the video tab first.
The feature is useful for users who like to play videos or audio files in the background while they do something else in the browser. Volume controls are missing, e.g. muting or changing of volume, but the feature is not finalized yet from the look and feel, and the crash issue that it is causing.
Closing Words
Play Controls in the Chrome main toolbar are not useful to all users but users who play media in the background and use other tabs in the meantime may appreciate the feature the most.
It is an experimental feature for now and it is not certain that it will land in stable Chrome. Google is pushing Chrome’s multimedia support in recent versions of the browser. The company launched multimedia keyboard support in Chrome earlier this year to support media keys on keyboards. The feature interferes with certain media clients, however.
Windows users may want to check out Taskplay, a free software to control media from the taskbar.
Now You: How useful are play controls in a browser’s main toolbar?
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