Google Chrome is a great alternative to Safari on iPhone. You can even set Chrome as your iPhone’s default web browser. Chrome is packed with hidden tricks, so here are the touch gestures you need to know.
Swipe Down to Close Tabs, Reload, and Open Tabs
Chrome has a convenient shortcut for quickly closing the current tab, reloading the open web page, or opening a new tab. Just touch your screen and swipe downward with your finger. By default, the “Reload” shortcut in the center of the screen will be focused. (If you’re in the middle of a web page, you’ll have to scroll back up to the top of the page first.)
To close the tab, move your finger to the right to focus “Close Tab.” To open a new tab, move your finger to the left to focus “Open Tab.” Release your finger to trigger the selected action.
You can do this in one smooth motion. For example, to close the current tab, touch the screen and move your finger down, move it to the right, and quickly release. Chrome will close the tab. (If you’re in the middle of a web page, you can scroll back up to the top and keep scrolling to open the actions, all in one swipe.)
Swipe the Location Bar to Switch Between Tabs
Chrome has a very quick way to switch tabs. You don’t have to tap the Switch Tabs icon on the toolbar at the bottom of the app.
Instead, you can simply swipe left or right on the toolbar (the URL bar) at the top of the Chrome app. This will switch to the tab to the left or right of your current tab, depending on which direction you swipe. Keep swiping to switch between tabs.
If you’re viewing a New Tab page that doesn’t have a visible toolbar, you can still swipe to the left or right in the area at the top of the screen where the toolbar will be.
Drag and Drop to Rearrange Tabs
To better take advantage of the swipe-to-switch-tabs gesture, you can reposition your open tabs. To do this, tap the “Switch tabs” icon at the bottom of the Chrome app to see all your open tabs. (It looks like a rounded square with a number in it.)
Touch and hold on a tab thumbnail. After a moment, Chrome will gray the other tabs out. You can move the tab’s thumbnail to any location on the screen. Release your finger when you’re done.
When swiping between tabs from the toolbar, tabs above other tabs in this list will be to the left, while tabs below other tabs will be to the right.
Long-Press to Search in a New Tab
You can tap the “+” button at the bottom of the Chrome interface to quickly open a new tab. However, you’ll find more options if you long-press the “+” button.
Tap “New Search” to open a new tab with the search field focused so that you can immediately start typing, or tap “Incognito Search” to do the same with a new Incognito tab. If you want to search with your voice or scan a QR code, tap the “Voice Search” or “Scan QR Code” options here.
If you’ve copied text in Chrome or another app, you’ll also see a “Search for Text You Copied” option. This will immediately open a new tab and search for the text in your iPhone clipboard. There’s no need to open a tab and manually paste text into the search bar.
Long-Press to Open Incognito Tabs or Close a Tab
To find these tab management options, long-press the “Switch Tabs” button on the toolbar. Here, you can tap “New Incognito Tab” to quickly open an Incognito tab for private browsing, or you can tap “Close Tab” to close the current tab.
There’s also a “New Tab” option in this menu. It opens a new tab, just like tapping the “+” button on the bottom toolbar.
Swipe Left or Right to Go Back and Forward
This feature is also found in Safari on iPhone, so you may already be familiar with it. However, you can go back and forward with gestures rather than by tapping the Back and Forward arrow buttons on the toolbar.
To go back, touch the left side of your screen and swipe right toward the center of your screen.
To go forward, touch the right side of your screen and swipe left toward the center of your screen.
Quickly Go Back or Forward to a Specific Page
Tapping the “Back” or “Forward” buttons over and over again to find a page you were just viewing can be obnoxious. There’s an easier way to dig through a tab’s Back or Forward history.
To do so, long-press either the “Back” or “Forward” arrow buttons on the bottom toolbar. You’ll then see a list of the pages in your Back and Forward history, and you can tap a page to go directly to it.
Swipe to Switch Screens in the Tab Switcher
You don’t have to tap the three small icons at the top of the Tab Switcher view to switch between your Incognito tabs, normal Chrome tabs, and recent tab views.
To switch between them, you can swipe left or right anywhere on the Tab Switcher screen. It’s much easier, and you’ll never have to adjust your grip to tap those small targets at the top of your iPhone’s screen.
Pinch a Video for Full-Screen Mode
On many (but not all) websites, you can use a pinch gesture to quickly enter full-screen mode while watching a video. While a video is playing, touch it with two fingers and move them apart. Chrome will play the video in full-screen mode.
You can also leave full-screen mode by performing the opposite gesture—touching the video with two fingers and moving them closer together—or by swiping down on the video.
Rather than tapping the menu button and then tapping the option you want, you can touch the menu button with your finger and hold for a moment. The menu button will pop up. Move your finger up until the menu option you want is selected and release your finger to activate it.
This works in Chrome’s other long-press menus, too. For example, when long-pressing the “+” button, you can move your finger up and then release to activate a menu option in a single gesture.
One more thing: Chrome’s menu is longer than it looks at first glance. You can drag up or down inside the menu to find additional options.
Chrome has various other features that are useful, including the ability to sync with Chrome bookmarks, open tabs, and history. It’s very convenient if you also use Chrome on your Windows, Mac, Linux, or Chrome OS desktop or laptop.
If you’re a fan of Chrome on desktop, you should definitely check out Chrome on iPhone—especially since Chrome can now replace Safari as your default browser. Chrome is available for iPad, too.