Category: Browser (Page 1 of 2)

Disable Hardware Acceleration – A Common Browser Fix

Sometimes a web browser will start acting poorly, lagging as you scroll or refusing to play videos on social media sites. When this happens, you may tempted to blame your ISP. But if other websites and speed tests behave normally, then the ISP is off the hook and we need to look elsewhere.

Often what causes this browser-lagginess is an odd conflict between the computer’s graphics drivers and the web browser. Maybe we could call it a software allergy. In any case, what you can try is to turn off the “Hardware Acceleration” option inside your browser. Once it’s off, restart your browser (or the whole computer) and retry the problematic websites. They may work much better then!

Here’s how to turn this option off for:

Google Chrome

Click the 3-dots button in the upper-right corner and then click Settings.

On the left, click System.

In the middle, toggle Off the option labeled Use hardware acceleration when available.

Mozilla Firefox

Click the hamburger menu in the upper-right corner and then click Settings.

Scroll to the bottom, looking for the section labelled Performance.

Uncheck the box for Use recommended performance settings.

Uncheck the box for Use hardware acceleration when available.

Microsoft Edge

Click the 3-dots button in the upper-right corner and then click Settings.

On the left, click System and performance.

In the middle, toggle Off the option labeled Use hardware acceleration when available.

The Google Dictionary Browser Extension

The Google Dictionary browser extension makes it easier than ever to learn word definitions. Once you’ve installed this freebie, you can simply double-click any plain-text word on the internet, and immediately see its definition.

I’m sure that this tool is going to save you many clicks and help keep up your reading comprehension. No more opening a second tab, just to go to Dictionary.com!

This extension is free to install into Google Chrome on any computer. And now that Microsoft Edge is built on Chromium, it should install in that browser, as well. Get it free here.

Setting a Default Browser in Windows 11

In Windows 10, it was very easy to change your default browser:

Start -> Settings -> Apps. Click Default Apps, then click under Web Browser.

But now, under Windows 11, things are rather different. If you want to declare something other than Edge as your default browser, you’ll want to do that through your browser now. In Firefox or Brave, go to the Options (Hamburger) button to the upper-right, then click Settings. In the General panel, look for a button labeled “Make Default”. If you use that, it should do the trick.

But not for all browsers. Microsoft seems to have it out for the Chrome and Vivaldi browsers. Here’s the Windows 11 process for setting either of those as default:

Start -> Settings -> Apps. Click Default Apps, then scroll down to click on your browser of choice. A long list of file types will appear; click each of the following, one at a time, and set them to use your preferred browser:

  • .htm
  • .html
  • HTTP
  • HTTPS

I’m not sure why this is now such a convoluted process, but I’m hoping it’ll simplify after future complaints/updates.

Reopen a Previously Closed Tab

This is my favorite Windows keyboard shortcut. In most web browsers, if you press Control-Shift-T, the previously closed tab will reopen.

So, if you closed a browser tab by accident, this shortcut undoes the mistake.

Even better: if you press this key-combo multiple times, your browser may be able to reopen many of the tabs you’ve recently closed. If your browser has been open for a long time, this may be able to reopen something you used many hours and tabs ago!

Sure, you can go through your browser’s history to relocate things you’ve closed, but this shortcut can save so much time. If you work in multiple browser tabs all day long, practice and use this one, I bet you’ll appreciate it at some point.

Oh, and it’s Command-Shift-T for Mac users!

Microsoft Editor: Spelling & Grammar Checker

This freebie does what it says on the tin: it checks your spelling and grammar for you, within your web browser. Install Microsoft Editor: Spelling & Grammar Checker and it will underline spelling errors or grammar mistakes as you type.

For the most part, this will help with typing email. But it should also red-line any writing errors on other websites, say, as you fill in a web form or write a comment on social media. Whatever errors it detects will have a zigzag underline that you can click for suggested corrections.

Grammarly does a similar job to ME: S&GC, but I find Microsoft’s extension bothers me with fewer ads. If you want to try this out, it’s available for either Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. Just make sure to click its browser icon after you install, and sign in with your Microsoft account.

Simple Keyboard Shortcuts for your Browser, A-Z

There are too many handy shortcuts within Windows, but I’m going to try to list out the easier ones for you to review. This is not to say that you should memorize all of them! Rather, check them out and see if a few would be especially useful to the way you use your computer. Practice one or two and you may discover they change your computer-life!

  • Control + A: Highlights & Selects all text in a given area.
  • Control + B: Shows the Bookmarks (Firefox only).
  • Control + C: Copies selected text to clipboard.
  • Control + D: Creates a bookmark in your browser.
  • Control + E: Starts a web search in your browser.
  • Control + F: Opens a Find field (to search the current site for a word/phrase).
  • Control + G: Moves to the next result after using the Find field.
  • Control + H: Opens your web history in your browser.
  • Control + I: Opens the Page Info window (Firefox only).
  • Control + J: Opens your Downloads list in your browser.
  • Control + K: Starts a web search in your browser.
  • Control + L: Takes you to the address bar in your browser.
  • Control + M: Mutes the current Tab (Firefox and Edge only).
  • Control + N: Opens a new browser window.
  • Control + O: Opens the Open File window.
  • Control + P: Opens the Print options window.
  • Control + Q: Does nothing!
  • Control + R: Refreshes/reloads the current website.
  • Control + S: Opens the Save window (Firefox & Chrome only).
  • Control + T: Opens a new tab in your browser.
  • Control + U: Reveals the source code of the current website.
  • Control + V: Pastes text from clipboard into a text field.
  • Control + W: Closes the current tab.
  • Control + X: Cuts selected text from a text field, saving it to the clipboard.
  • Control + Y: Redo the action that was just Undone (see next shortcut).
  • Control + Z: Undo the last action taken in a text field.

Many of these shortcuts should carry over to Chromebooks and Linux computers. On Apple computers, most of these shortcuts will also work, if you use the Command key instead of Control.

Trend Micro Check

The Trend Micro company has come out with a new tool that I want to recommend. Trend Micro Check is a free browser extension that you can install in Google Chrome (or Microsoft Edge) that will protect you as you surf the web.

Specifically, Trend Micro Check blocks ads and trackers (like AdBlockPlus), warns you when you visit scam or misinformation websites (like Bitdefender Trafficlight) and also goes through your surfing history for baddies. If it finds anything worrisome in your browser history, it will report it to you and then offer to remove it.

You can install the extension from the Get Now button on this page, or try this direct link to it in the Google Play Store.

Brief Freeze-Up Bug in Google Chrome

I’m hearing a lot of reports that Google Chrome is frequently freezing up. But only for several seconds, and then it unfreezes. Other report that refreshing & reloading the page seems to shake things loose… until they walk away for a few minutes and return to yet another stuck page. In any case, it’s an annoyance to have to pause and wait each time you return to your computer.

Clearing the cache does not seem to help.

Resetting or reinstalling Chrome does not solve the problem.

What helps is turning off a background setting that is rather hard-to-find:

  1. Open Chrome and type chrome://flags into the address bar and press Enter.
  2. In the search field, type occlusion and notice the option called “Calculate windows occlusion on Windows.”
  3. Click the drop-down menu to the right of that option and set it to Disabled.
  4. Click the Relaunch button that appears at the bottom of Chrome.

If you’re suffering from this browser bug, try the above steps. And if this is above your paygrade to enact, give me a call and I’ll help out!

Paywalls & Private Browsing

Last month, I posted the basics about Private Browsing, but I skipped mentioning one of its important uses: Bypassing paywalls. When a website insists that you pay for access, Private Browsing can sometimes get you in without payment or logging in.

This most commonly works for news websites and other pages that offer you “5 free articles this month” before requiring you to sign up and buy a subscription. If you really need to read an article behind a paywall, you can try to right-click the link to the article and open the link in a Private Browsing/Incognito window. Or, you can copy the URL to the article, open a separate Private Browsing window, and paste it onto the address bar.

This works based on the cookies and other temp files placed on your computer by the website in question. When you switch over to a Private browsing window, the website cannot detect or place cookies on your computer. Having no cookie access, the website cannot know if you’ve viewed 1 or 5 or any number of its articles. So it may treat you as a new visitor & just let you in.

I have hesitated to broadcast this, as I don’t want to encourage Not Paying For Journalism. Many news media companies are suffering financially, and I don’t want to add to their financial woes. So I would like to ask that you consider using this tip as comparable to taking a free sample at Costco. If you find yourself returning again and again, for many free samples, please consider paying for what you are viewing. That company you are taking from needs your support!

Private Browsing

These days, all web browsers offer a function called Private Browsing. Let’s go over what Private Browsing is and isn’t.

Private Browsing allows you to use the internet so that no traces of your surfing are saved or left behind on that computer. Whatever you do while Private Browsing disappears from that computer as soon as you close the Private Browsing window.


You should use Private Browsing if you are at a public computer. For example: At the library, you should always use Private Browsing! Check your email, use Facebook, etc. and when you close your private browsing window, your logins and other website traces vanish. The next person to use that computer will see no evidence of where you surfed, and your passwords will not be saved.

You might also use Private Browsing if you’re borrowing a computer from a friend or employer. That way, when you return the computer, you won’t have to worry about others seeing your internet history or login information. Also, if you’re doing some holiday shopping and worry that your spouse might get nosy, you can use Private Browsing to hide your tracks.

Private Browsing does not anonymize or conceal your internet behavior, outside of the computer you are using. Your activity is still traceable beyond the computer being used to surf the internet. Most ISPs keep logs on what their users visit and do on the internet, and Private Browsing does not prevent that.

As an example, let’s say someone starts a Private Browsing and commits a crime on the internet. Someone will (hopefully) report that crime. A competent investigator will trace the crime to an IP address, which will lead him to an Internet Service Provider. The ISP will (often quickly) cooperate to offer a physical location for that IP address. And then an officer is dispatched to knock on soeone’s door with questions and possibly an arrest warrant.

At the risk of stating the obvious, I will implore you: Do not commit crime over the internet. Treat other people on the internet as you would in meat-space.


Each browser calls their Private Browsing tool something different. So that you can learn the name and usage for your browser, here are some help articles and details for the most common browsers:

Microsoft Edge: InPrivate Browsing

Google Chrome: Incognito Browsing

Safari: Private Browsing

Mozilla Firefox: Private Browsing

Opera Browser: Private Mode

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