Chrome is an excellent browser, arguably better than any other browser, but there’s no denying that it’s a massive memory hog. No matter how much RAM you have, His Chromeness will spread his enormous footprint and consume as much available RAM as possible. This problem has only gotten worse over time, and if you have 4GB or less RAM on your computer, it’s almost impossible to make Chrome run smoothly.
Unless, you follow these steps. :)
Disable/uninstall unnecessary extensions, apps, and plugins
This one is a no-brainer. Go through the list of extensions (chrome://extensions) that you have installed, and uninstall or disable the ones you can live without. Every active Chrome extension and app runs in its own process and consumes memory, hence getting rid of a bunch can make Chrome noticeably leaner.
Similarly, go through the plugins (chrome://plugins) list, and disable the bloated ones like Java, Silverlight, VLC, QuickTime, etc. Google will remove support for such plugins from Chrome by the end of this year.
Automatically suspend idle tabs
One big reason for Chrome’s big appetite is its multi-process structure. Basically, Chrome spins off a new process for every tab, extension, and app that you open or install. This helps a lot in making the browser stable (a rogue website or extension won’t take down the entire browser), but it comes at the cost of heavy memory consumption.
You can solve this issue by installing The Great Suspender, a Chrome extension that will automatically hibernate tabs that have been inactive for a certain period (default is 15 minutes). Doing this will release the memory that was used by that tab. You can easily restore the tab’s content by clicking anywhere inside its window.
Let Chrome run in the background
This step won’t help with memory issues, but will help Chrome launch faster and respond better, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Click the menu button (triple line button to the right of the address bar), go to Settings, scroll to the bottom and click on “Show advanced settings…“. Again scroll to the bottom where you will find an option to let Chrome apps run in the background. Enable it if it isn’t already.
Run Chrome in Metro Mode (Windows 8 and 8.1)
This step is just for Windows 8 and 8.1 users. The Metro (or Modern, or Windows 8) apps, which are exclusive to these versions of Windows, are allowed to run only in single processes. And the good news is, Chrome can be run as a Metro app, thereby restricting it to just a single process and somewhat cutting down its memory consumption.
Chrome has to be the default browser on your PC for it to run in Metro mode. Open Chrome and select “Relaunch Chrome in Windows 8 mode” from the menu button. If Chrome isn’t your default browser, it will ask you to make it the default at this point.
Chrome looks and works exactly the same in Metro mode, but should you wish to go back to desktop mode, you can do so by clicking on “Relaunch Chrome in desktop mode“.
We all wish Google would work on making Chrome lean and fast like the good old days, but until that happens, the above steps will help you use your favorite browser in peace.
If you have other Chrome fixers in mind, share with us in the comments below!