A hidden new twist to a top Android Chrome trick

Hey. You. Yes, you — the one there with the moist eyeballs, staring at this suspiciously smudgy screen.

I want to let you in on a little secret. It’s technically a two-part secret, as the first part is something incredibly useful that hardly anyone realizes is possible — and the second part is a completely new twist on that same concept that virtually no one knows about yet.

The concepts in question are both connected to Chrome and the timeless act of traipsing around this tumbleweed-laden web of ours. They give you an enchantingly easy way to peek in at a page without interrupting what you’re doing or committing to fully opening it. And they’re available now in two different but equally delightful environments.

One is on Android, where you might’ve overlooked or maybe just forgotten about the possibility over time, and the other is on any desktop computer you’re using — where the feature is so fresh out of the fryer that is hasn’t even stopped sizzling yet.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

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The Chrome page-peeking possibility: Android

First things first, allow me to quickly show you the crafty Chrome page-peeking feature of which we speak in its original, still-incredibly-practical form within Android.

‘Twas a time when finding this feature required you to dig under the Chrome Android app’s hood into all sorts of sticky settings, but these days, it’s right there and waiting to be found — albeit in a place where you really have to look to see it.

So try this:

  • Open up any web page (maybe even this one!) in Chrome on your phone.
  • Press and hold your finger onto any link within the page.
  • Look for the “Preview page” option in the menu that pops up.
  • Tap it, and tap it good.

And hey, how ’bout that?! Chrome will give you a handy little overlay in which you can view the link without leaving the original page or disrupting your web-workin’ flow.

Chrome Android preview page JR

Peek-a-boo! Previewing a page without interruption in Chrome on Android.

You can swipe down on the overlay (or tap the “X” in its upper-right corner) to dismiss it or tap the arrow-in-a-box icon in its upper bar to expand it into a full-fledged tab.

Good to know, right? And now, for the new twist…

The Chrome page-peeking possibility: Desktop

Few mere mortals are aware as of yet, but Google’s in the midst of bringing this same form of page-peeking pleasure into the desktop domain so you can look at links in a similarly seamless way on your computer as well as your phone.

This feature is super-new and still actively under development, so you’ve really gotta go out of your way to find it and push it up to the surface. But it isn’t hard to do, once you know where to look.

So fire up the Chrome browser on whatever computer you’re caressing, clear out 20 seconds in your schedule, and perform the following simple steps:

  • Type chrome:flags into the browser’s address bar.
  • See the search box at the top of the next screen? Type the word preview into it.
  • Find the line labeled “Link Preview.” Click the box next to it and change it from “Default” to “Enabled.”
  • Don’t mess with anything else in this area, lest your fingertips fall off and your face turn froggy.
  • Click the blue Relaunch button at the bottom of the screen (though note that the button may appear green, in the case of a froggy-face transformation).

Now just open up any ol’ web page you like and find a link within it.

Then, either right-click the link and find the “Preview page” option in the pop-up that appears — or press and hold the Alt key on your keyboard and then click the link normally. Say “oobra-cadoobra,” for good luck and to make yourself sound like a doofus, aaaaaaaand:

Chrome desktop preview page JR

Chrome’s page-peeking preview option, as seen on the desktop front.

Ta-da! You can now preview any link right atop the page you’re viewing, just like on Android, without having to open an entire new tab and shift your focus.

Now, fair warning: The setup here isn’t quite as fleshed out as what we feast upon on the Android side (yet, at least). Namely, there’s no mechanism to move a link from this form into a more typical tab. But it really is a very new and still under-active-development feature in this environment, so with any luck, we’ll see that added into the mix before long.

Even now, though, it’s a welcome addition that brings a pinch of Android-like browsing intelligence into the desktop domain — and a smart new tool to make your web work faster, easier, and more enjoyable, no matter what device you’re using.

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