How to make Google Chrome work better with touchscreen PCs

These tweaks make Chrome much more touch-friendly on new Windows 8 touch computers

Unlike Internet Explorer 10, Chrome was not designed for touchscreens. As such, the touch experience on Google's browser really sucks: Tabs are hard to close, icons in the bookmarks bar are hard to tap, and scrolling using touch is a struggle. If you have a new Windows 8 touchscreen laptop (or tablet PC), you don't have to give up on your favorite browser. These experimental features and extensions can make using Chrome without a keyboard more doable--at least until Google makes Chrome natively more touch-friendly.

Hidden within Chrome's experimental Labs are settings that make everything you can touch in the browser a bit easier to select. The settings make tabs and menu items, for example, easier to select and more button-like.

To enable these settings, enter chrome://flags in Chrome's address bar.Then scroll down until you find these two settings: Touch Optimized UI and Enable touch events. Use the drop-down boxes to enable both. Then scroll a bit further to find the Enable touch initiated drag and drop setting and enable it if you wish; this setting lets you drag-and-drop elements by long-pressing them with your fingers.

Form (and search) fields are another annoyance you can fix about Chrome's lack of touchscreen support. As it stands, you can tap in a form field or the search bar and then tap the Windows 8 touch keyboard icon at the bottom of your screen to enter information, but that's clunky and slow. Instead, download the Chrome Virtual Keyboard extension, which pops up a virtual keyboard for you to tap whenever you're typing in a form field. It can also open up the touch keyboard for the URL bar. Although the extension isn't perfect (there are bugs to work out, such as not being able to close the keyboard sometimes), it makes working on Google Chrome with just a touchscreen much easier.

Now that Google has announced its own touchscreen laptop, the Chromebook Pixel, we'll likely see some touch-friendly enhancements for the Chrome browser. That's a great thing for all touchscreen computer owners, even those few who might buy a Chromebook Pixel

Read more of Melanie Pinola’s Tech IT Out blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniepinola. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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