There’s Finally a Hidden Setting to Stop Chrome From Killing Your Laptop’s Battery

Photo:  monticello (Shutterstock)
Photo: monticello (Shutterstock)

From all the web browsers to choose from these days, Chrome is still the most popular for some reason. Practically everyone uses it, and as such, everyone knows it’s a battery hog—and the more tabs you open and the more extensions you use, the worse the energy drain becomes. While we’ve tried to help you out in the past with workarounds to limit Chrome’s energy use, they’re no longer necessary. Google finally has implemented an official “low power mode” solution you can enable in one step.

As reported by How-To Geek, Google dropped the new “Energy Saver” feature alongside the release of Chrome 108. When you enable the option, Chrome will preserve your battery by minimizing background activity, visuals, and frame rates. You will likely notice a change in performance when browsing with those three components limited. Animations and scrolling may feel choppy, and Chrome’s overall speediness may be diminished. But I’ll take it if it means I can actually get a full day’s work done without staying tethered to my charger.

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That said, at this point it’s unclear how much battery Energy Saver will actually preserve, since the feature is so new. Still, it seems worth trying, even to squeeze an extra few minutes of juice from my MacBook.

How to enable Low-Power Mode in Chrome 108

The first step is to update Chrome to at least version 108. If it hasn’t updated automatically, you can force an update ton Windows, Mac, or Linux by clicking the three dots in the top-right corner, choosing Help > About Google Chrome. Hit “Relaunch” once Chrome loads the update.

Then you’ll have to do a little digging, because Google hasn’t (yet) made the new option user-facing—there’s no obvious battery-saver setting; instead, the feature is hidden behind a feature flag. (Google launches experimental new features as flags it doesn’t consider ready for the general public, but which are good enough for tinkerers to try out. The company warns that enabling flags can mess with your browser and its data, but Energy Saver seems like a relatively safe one to try.)

If you want tinker with Energy Saver, type chrome://flags into the address bar, then hit enter. Here, click the “Search flags” field and type “battery” to pull up “Enable the battery saver mode feature in the settings” (it’s identifying flag is “#battery-saver-mode-available”). Click “Default,” change the setting to “Enabled,” then hit “Relaunch” to reboot the app. Once Chrome opens back up, head to Settings, then click on the new “Performance” tab to see “Energy Saver.”

From here, you have two options. You can either have Energy Saver kick on when your laptop hits 20% battery, or you can choose to keep the feature on anytime your laptop is unplugged. I didn’t bring my charger to work today, so I know which option I’m picking.

The feature will appear as an electric leaf in your menu bar. You can’t switch between the two Energy Saver modes here, but you can disable it entirely, making it a convenient kill switch should you need it.

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