Google Chrome’s Site Settings Tooltip Menu Explained

Google has packed a lot of information and control into the site settings tooltip menu on Chrome. This article explains those settings and how to use them.

Accessing the Site Settings Menu

To access the Site Settings menu, click the very first icon on Chrome’s address bar aka Omnibox. On an HTTPS site, this will show a green lock symbol and the word “Secure”.

On an HTTP non-secure site, this will show a circle and an “i”. Like so:

Global Default

Before we get started with individual items on this list, let me tell you what ‘Global Default” is. From the Site Settings menu, you can tweak each of the available settings for the site that you are currently visiting. This could be different from what you have selected as a default setting in Chrome. This default is known as “Global Default”.

You can change Global Default settings from chrome://settings/content.

For example,  your Global Default for popups will be to always block. This lets you keep your peace of mind while browsing the interwebs. However, some websites might however have useful popups. When I log in to my bank’s website, I go to their home page and click on Login. This opens a secure login page on a new tab. By default, Chrome blocks this popup. However, I want this popup to open, only on my bank’s website. I can allow a popup for just this website from the Site Settings menu.

Now let us take a look at the items available in the Site Settings menu.

Cookies

A web cookie is a small piece of data that websites store on your web browser to accomplish certain things. For example, you don’t want to be asked to log in each time you refresh your Facebook page, right? (Find more about HTTP Cookie here)

The number of cookies used by the website is listed in the Site Settings menu. This number is a link that opens another menu that lists these cookies and also lets you remove them.

Go to chrome://settings/content/cookies for additional options.

Location

Websites can use your location to customize their service or content. If you are on a computer, this is not usually as accurate as GPS based location of mobile phones. However, this could still be useful. For example, if you are visiting a website that provides information based on the state that you are in, it can pick up that information from Chrome and optimize the content.

You have three options here:

  • Use global default (Ask).
  • Always allow on this site
  • Always block on this site

Go to chrome://settings/content/location for additional controls.

Camera

If you are visiting a website that uses your computer’s camera you might need this setting enabled for the website. It however will not be wise to leave it enabled in Global Default.

You have three options here:

  • Use global default (Ask).
  • Always allow on this site
  • Always block on this site

Visit chrome://settings/content/camera for more details.

Microphone

The privacy concern over allowing Microphones on Global Default applies to Microphones as well. It is wise to enable this only for websites that you trust and use the microphone on.

You have three options here:

  • Use global default (Ask).
  • Always allow on this site
  • Always block on this site

Additional controls are available at chrome://settings/content/microphone.

Notifications

Every other website that I visit these days asks me if I want to enable notifications on Chrome. This can be very annoying. The best way, here again, is to keep this disabled in Global Default and enable them only for specific websites.

You have three options here:

  • Use global default (Ask).
  • Always allow on this site
  • Always block on this site

You can see additional details including sites that you have allowed or blocked here: chrome://settings/content/notifications

JavaScript

This is different from the options we discussed so far. It is recommended that you keep JavaScript allowed in Global Default because almost all the websites require this to work normally. In certain cases where you want to disable JavaScript, use the Site Settings menu.

You have three options here:

  • Use global default (Ask).
  • Always allow on this site
  • Always block on this site

Find additional details at chrome://settings/content/javascript.

Flash

Flash is in the news again. Google Chrome recently started blocking flash content by default. HTML5 is the new norm. Hence, it is recommended that you use Flash only in unavoidable situations. The site Settings menu can be handy in this too.

You have the following options for Flash:

  • Use global default
  • Always allow on this site
  • Always detect important content on this site
  • Always block on this site

Find more details here: chrome://settings/content/flash.

Images

Like JavaScript, by default, we want this enabled. On rare occasions though, you might want to disable images from a website or two. Use the Site Settings Menu to do this.

You have three options here:

  • Use global default (Allow).
  • Always allow on this site
  • Always block on this site

More options at: chrome://settings/content/images

Popups

I used popups as the example to explain Global Default because this is a browser feature that we talk the most about!

You have three options here:

  • Use global default (Ask).
  • Always allow on this site
  • Always block on this site

More options available at: chrome://settings/content/popups.

Background Sync

This could be new to many of you. The official description of this feature says “Allow recently closed sites to finish sending and receiving data (recommended)”.

Imagine that you are filling out a form on a website. You entered all the information and clicked Submit and closed the tab as soon as you clicked “Submit”. The browser was yet to complete sending the information that you submitted using the form. Do you want it to continue sending even after you closed the tab? This option lets you control that. This can be very useful and that is why Google is recommending that you keep this on by default.

You have three options here:

  • Use global default (Ask).
  • Always allow on this site
  • Always block on this site

Find more details at – chrome://settings/content/backgroundSync.

Automatic Downloads

This setting allows you to allow or block when a site tries to download files automatically after the first file.

You have three options here:

  • Use global default (Ask).
  • Always allow on this site
  • Always block on this site

Additional details at: chrome://settings/content/automaticDownloads.

MIDI Devices Full Control

This is connected to the Web Audio API. You should be worried about this feature only if you are a music producer / professional. If you are one, you know more about this feature better than I. (hint: I have a comments box on this page!)

You have three options here:

  • Use global default (Ask).
  • Always allow on this site
  • Always block on this site

Hope you found this resource useful. Drop me a comment if you need additional details or have something to share with other users.

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