Speed up Google Chrome and your Apple Mac with these tweaks

Tweak Chrome settings to make it faster and use less memory

Google Chrome on the Apple Mac can consume lots of memory and can cause the system to run slowly. A few simple tweaks to the configuration will reduce memory usage and boost the speed.

Why use Chrome?

  • Lots of great extensions
  • Works across different computers, phones, tablets
  • Good if you’re into Google services

I use Chrome because I am always switching between computers and devices and it is useful to have my bookmarks, history, tabs and other settings follow me.

It is also perfect for using Google services like Photos, Docs and Drive, all of which I use. This blog post is being written in Google Docs in Chrome on an Apple Mac for example, but I can easily switch to a Windows PC, iPad, Android phone and continue writing.

Problems with Chrome

  • It uses a lot of memory
  • It can use more CPU and battery than Safari
  • It can slow down the Mac

These solutions can be solved and all you need to do is to tweak a few settings. They will make Chrome use less memory and CPU, which means more available for other things, a more responsive browser and Mac. It may make the battery last longer too.

Use Task Manager

Go to the menu (hamburger) in Chrome and select More Tools, Task Manager.

Open Google Chrome's Task Manager to see CPU and memory usage in the browser

This tells you how much memory is being used by various components in Chrome.

Close tabs

At the top is a browser tab showing Google Drive. This often uses 600MB of memory when open, so open it on a tab, use it and close it to free up memory. Don’t leave it open. (Safari uses the same amount of memory and I think it’s just a big page with lots of code.)

The more tabs you have open the more memory is used, so close tabsyou don’t need. Some web pages and websites use more memory than others, but generally you should use the minimum number of tabs no matter which sites you view.

Disable extensions

Look at Task Manager again and you will see three extensions totalling over 200MB of memory. Many people have half a dozen or more extensions and they use up lots of memory, maybe half a gigabyte.

Disable extensions you are not using in Chrome top reduce memory usage

  1. Go to the menu, More Tools, Extensions.
  2. Clear the tick next to any extensions you are not using right now.
  3. Click the trash next to any extension you can live without.

Disable GPU process

Take another look at Task Manager and notice that there is an item called GPU Process. It is using 40MB in the screenshot, but it can use a lot more, maybe up to 60MB.

This is a weird one because it is a feature that is designed to speed up Chrome, but some people report that it slows it down.

  1. Go to the Menu and select Settings.
  2. Scroll to the bottom and click Show advanced settings.
  3. Clear the tick against Use hardware acceleration when available.

Turn off hardware acceleration in Chrome browser

Surely hardware acceleration should boost the speed of Chrome. Perhaps it depends on what hardware you have because turning it off has had no effect on the speed of Chrome on my Mac. In fact, they seem faster!

The result

You must quit Chrome and restart it to see the results of these changes.

Open Google Chrome's Task Manager to see CPU and memory usage in the browser

Fewer tabs, fewer extensions and no GPU hardware acceleration makes a tremendous difference to the browser. Try it and see.

 

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