Discover Your Web Browser’s Secret Tricks
By Chris Hoffman
Updated October 17, 2017
You spend a lot of time in your Web browser, but in all likelihood, you’ve barely scratched the surface of what you can do with it. Web browsers are packed with useful, hidden tricks you might never find until someone clues you in.
Reopen Closed Tabs
If you ever accidentally close a browser tab and want it back, you don’t have to open your history or hunt down the web page again. You can simply use your browser’s “reopen closed tab” feature. Use the shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+T in both Firefox and Chrome, for example.
In Chrome, you can also click the menu button, point to Recent Tabs, then select a tab. In Internet Explorer, open the New Tab page and use the Reopen closed tabs menu at the bottom of the page. In Firefox, you can tap the Alt key, click the History menu that appears, and use the Recently Closed Tabs menu.
Give Websites Their Own Browser Windows
Do you use certain websites a lot — perhaps your email on Gmail, Outlook.com or Yahoo! Mail, or perhaps a social media site like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest? You might want to break that website out of your browser and give it the attention it deserved.
In Chrome, you can head to a website, click the menu button, and select More tools, Create application shortcuts. In Internet Explorer, you can head to a website, point your mouse at the website’s icon in the address bar, and then drag-and-drop it to your Windows taskbar. The website will get its own shortcut on your taskbar and its own unique window. (Firefox doesn’t have this feature, unfortunately.)
Pin Tabs for Easy Access
“Pinned tabs” are another useful feature for quickly accessing websites you use often. Head to a website in your browser, right-click the tab in the tab bar, and select Pin Tab in Chrome or Firefox. The tab will shrink to a tiny icon so it will take up less space on your tab bar and be easier to leave open all the time.
When you close and re-open your browser, it will automatically open your pinned tabs. This makes pinned tabs convenient for email, social media sites and other webpages you want open all the time without cluttering your browser or taskbar. (This feature isn’t available in Internet Explorer.)
Sync Your Browser Tabs and More
Modern Web browsers offer “browser sync” features that can save your bookmarks and other browsing data, syncing it across all your devices. But your browser can sync a list of your open tabs between your devices, too! This makes it easy to open a webpage on your laptop and then continue viewing it on your smartphone later, or transition from your smartphone back to your laptop when you sit down.
To take advantage of this feature, just sign in to the same account on your browser of choice on each device you use. For example, Chrome for your PC can synchronize with the Chrome browser app on Android and iOS. Firefox for your PC can sync with the Firefox app for Android. Safari for Mac can sync with the Safari app for iOS.
Master Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts are critical for getting around your PC faster, and they’re also useful in your Web browser. For example, Ctrl+F allows you to search the current page, saving huge amounts of time. Ctrl+T allows you to open a new tab, Ctrl+W allows you to close the current tab and Ctrl+Tab allows you to switch between open tabs.
I’ve covered many other keyboard shortcuts, so check out my list of the most important keyboard shortcuts everyone needs to know for more tips.
This is just a quick look at a few of the many awesome features your browser includes. Hunt down some tips for your specific browser of choice and you’ll discover many more useful things you never knew your browser could do!
Photo Credit: Susannah Grant on Flickr, Google, Mozilla, Microsoft
Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around tech geek who writes for PC World, MakeUseOf, and How-To Geek. He's been using Windows since Windows 3.1 was released in 1992.