Considering Microsoft’s history with browsers, it might be a bit of a shock that Microsoft Edge is such a useful and feature-rich browser. But there’s more to Microsoft Edge than initially meets the eye.
Flags are experimental options that allow you to enable exciting new features for your browser that are likely to come in future versions. The risk is that some may not work all the time, but in exchange, you get a boatload of new features before normal users will.
How to Enable Flags in Microsoft Edge
Accessing the flags menu is super easy. All you need to do is open up Microsoft Edge and type into the search bar edge://flags.
This will get you to the flags menu, with an appropriate warning on how some of these features are not guaranteed to work all the time. You’ll also find the option to reset them if you have problems after enabling any of the flags.
There’s a search bar here as well, which is the easiest way to find the following flags on this list.
1. Parallel Downloading
First up we have Parallel downloading. Parallel downloading does exactly what you would expect it to do, which is to say that it allows Microsoft Edge to download multiple files from the same or different hosts simultaneously–in parallel.
The benefits of this setting are straightforward. When you’re downloading more than one file at a time, Parallel downloading will increase the speed at which you finish your downloads overall, at the cost of a slightly slower download speed per individual file.
When it comes to downloading lots of files in bulk, this is a must-have setting to enable.
2. Quieter Notification Permission Prompts
When you go to visit a website, you’ll have probably noticed that there are times when they ask for various permissions. Sometimes it’s a website such as a weather service that needs your location, or perhaps an online conference service that needs access to your webcam and microphone.
There are a plethora of permissions a website could potentially prompt you for, and with some websites or users in particular, you just don’t want to see them at all.
Quieter notification permission prompts collapses these notifications down for you so that they’re less noticeable, but still accessible if you need to enable them as necessary.
Smooth Scrolling is a subtle feature that you didn’t know you needed. Normally, when you scroll, there are tiny jumps from place to place as you move the scroll wheel.
Smooth Scrolling, as you can no doubt guess, smooths out this scrolling with a nicer animation that makes it feel as if the page is simply gliding. This feature is small, but a noticeable improvement over the default.
4. Tab Hover Cards
By default, hovering over a tab across the top of your screen will give you a simple tooltip. If you want more information, however, then why not try enabling the Tab Hover Cards flag?
Tab Hover Cards replaces this default tooltip with a more robust popup containing the full webpage name and URL.
There’s also a second, related, flag you can enable if you so choose here as well. Tab Hover Card Images does just, also adding a preview image to the tab hover cards that you see.
5. Tab Groups
If you’ve been using more recent versions of Chrome, you might be familiar with tab groups, but if not, don’t fret. Tab groups are just another way to organize your tabs.
By dragging tabs together, you can form groups within your browser which you can then minimize, expand and name. This is a really handy feature to keep on top of your tabs if you’re the type of person that ends up with tens upon hundreds you don’t know what to do with.
This feature is now also available for Microsoft Edge. By enabling the Tab Groups flag, you get access to much the same functionality.
There are two extra flags here you can try as well, if you so wish. Tab Groups Auto Create attempts to automatically create groups as you go, taking another step out of the process for you.
Tab Groups Collapse Freezing is the other flag related to tab groups, and freezes tabs when you collapse the group in an attempt to save memory.
Finally, we have Global Media Controls. This feature, much like tab groups, has already made it to Google Chrome, so if you’re a user of both browsers you may already be familiar.
If not, the feature is relatively simple. Global Media Controls adds a small button to the end of your search bar whenever a tab is playing some form of media. This can be music, a YouTube video, or just about anything else.
Clicking on the button will show you the name of what is currently playing, the URL it is coming from, a picture of what the video is displaying, and the ability to pause, skip, or go back from within another tab.
This feature is a must-have for anyone who frequently has videos playing in the background and doesn’t want to jump to and from them.
There are two additional, though arguably less useful, flags you might want to consider enabling, as well. Global Media Controls for Cast enable this same popout UI for when you are casting to say, your TV. Useful if you use Cast a lot, but otherwise you don’t need to bother.
The other flag is Global Media Controls Picture-in-Picture, which does much the same thing but for Picture-in-Picture. As you can no doubt imagine, this is quite useful if you’re a frequent user of this feature, but otherwise there’s little need to bother.
Microsoft Edge Is Available Everywhere
After going through this list, you’re bound to have found something that’s useful for your everyday browsing, but there’s always more to discover.
Microsoft Edge is a newer browser compared to some other alternatives, but that doesn’t mean that it’s limited in either functionality or accessibility. Microsoft Edge is available on a huge range of browsers, with unique differences depending on where you go.
Microsoft Edge is available on your Mac, but is it worth using? Here’s a breakdown and installation guide for Edge on a Mac.
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