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Stop Google Chrome from Running in the Background on Windows

chrome background running

Is this bugging you?

While Google gets to work fixing the Chrome battery drain issue affecting Windows users, an easy interim solution may help preserve laptop battery life in the meantime.

The fix? Closing the browser when it’s not needed.

Captain Obvious

Historically, closing an application in Windows is straightforward: you click or tap on the ‘x’ window control button.

Depending on your settings, this isn’t always the case with Chrome; closing doesn’t always mean it fully exits. The browser often continues to run in the background on Windows (and Linux) – something you might never notice.

The Reason Why: You

Whether this happens or not depends on the sort of applications and extensions you have installed in Chrome. Some of these will “ask” the browser to stay awake so that they can continue to function; e.g., to deliver notifications of new e-mail messages or keep an active IRC chat alive.

Google makes it easy to tell when background apps are active: just look for the Google Chrome icon in the system tray (bottom right corner of your desktop screen). Click on this emblem to view a list of active tasks and a access a proper ‘Exit’ option.

If want to stop Chrome from running in the background entirely (i.e., so that it always exits when closed), regardless of extension, you can. You just need to tell it to.

How to Stop Chrome Running in the Background

On Windows or Linux click on the Chrome icon in the task bar/system tray, find the ‘Let Chrome run…’ option and click/tap it to disable/toggle the checkmark off.

It’s that simple. 

The behaviour can also be changed through the browser’s main settings page:

  • Click on the Chrome menu (or press Alt+E)
  • Select Settings
  • Click on the link titled ‘Show advanced settings
  • Under the section headed ‘System‘ untick the box next to “Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed”

To reenable the feature simply repeat the steps above but reversing the final step.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    There are people who didn’t know this?

    • Joey-Elijah Sneddon

      You’d be surprised.

  • Timothy Anderson

    …. or simply don’t use windows. It is the worst OS ever written.

    • pixelstuff

      Windows is the best OS ever written. Not without flaws, but still the best overall.

      • Timothy Anderson

        I’m glad you like it. Please enjoy it.

      • Piero Giorgi

        Actually, no.
        The most popular for sure, but definitely NOT the best ever written.

      • Efjay

        I’m surprised you weren’t lynched for that statement ;-) Although I support Linux, I would concede that Windows 8.1 is the best Windows Microsoft have made. Unfortunately because of luddites, it looks like they will be ripping all the good innovative UI stuff out to make another bland copy of Win95 and present it as Windows 9.

        • Richard Wild

          Nope, Windows 10 is awesome.

      • Douwtje

        Best for playing games and… eehm… checking e-mail?
        IT –> Linux
        Programming –> Mac / Linux.
        Photoediting –> Mac
        Pen. Testing –> Linux
        Video editing –> Mac
        Music editing –> Mac

        Aah perhaps, microsoft office….
        Yee I guess…

        • pixelstuff

          Hmmm. Well I would have given Mac and Windows a tie on photo, video, and audio editing. And Windows is a lot better 3D modeling and animation software, and better than Linux for office network management.

          But you forgot one category that might be hard to put a name on that contains all the niche products like CCTV, Intrusion, Access Control, etc.

          Plus niche products like HashTab and the hundreds of small apps like it. Windows has the best “just write a small app for that task” selection of apps out there.

          • Douwtje

            I suppose you are right there. I think a major factor we’re missing here is personal preference. With office I meant Word, excel etc.
            I would however say that, looking at cybersecurity, linux would be the best choice, but only and only if, one knows how to work with linux.

    • Matthew D.

      If I don’t use Windows how will I play all my games on Steam?!

      • Piero Giorgi

        On a SteamBox… (Linux)

        • Rodrigo Pinheiro Das Graças

          He said “ALL”. Not just 1/5th of his games. (I think I’m being very generous here!)

          • Piero Giorgi

            Using PlayOnLinux, then.
            Portal 2 works like a charm. (I’m not that much of a gamer)

          • Alucard291

            You’re not that much of a gamer but you have an opinion about gaming… That’s nice.

          • Piero Giorgi

            Well, it’s the opinion of a Software Engineer.
            I know by personal experience that Portal 2 works perfectly smooth on Ubuntu using PlayOnLinux. Just my 2 cents. :-)

          • Andrew Gibbs

            Great. That’s one game. Any others?

          • Piero Giorgi

            I need to have time to test them… Given the engine, I suppose that any game from Valve can work.

  • Richard Wild

    Windows 10 is actually shaping up to be awesome.

    • Michael

      There is no such thing as “Windows 10”.

      • Richard Wild

        Pretty soon you’re going to look like a real numpty with that statement, it launches soon. They have named it Windows 10 due to what will apparently be some conflict in some apps due to the 1990s releases (Windows 9x) if they named it Windows 9.
        I know what it’s like as I used it for a couple of months on it’s Technical Preview, I’m on the Insider Program.

        • Alucard291

          Yeah its shaping up to be no different from windows 8. Which is… er pretty bad honestly.

          But sure its the next greatest thing from the boring stale company which has lost its relevance quite some time ago.

          • Richard Wild

            Seriously? The Metro screen POS is gone and good old Start Menu is back, not to mention that it has inherited (and improved upon!) the one good thing 8/8.1 did which is speed, much faster than 7 which at the end of the day is bloatware. Keep your registry cleaned and any Windows will work fine. My only gripe is Micro$oft’s pricing, as always it will be bloody expensive, which is why I’ll be sticking with Linux Mint until I find a good deal.

          • Joey-Elijah Sneddon

            It’s not “gone” really though is it? It’s just a bit smarter about when it appears (thanks to Continuum). I wouldn’t expect Windows 10 to be expensive, either… The rumour is it’ll be free (presumably as an upgrade for an existing paid version of Windows rather than a “free to download” .iso)

          • Alucard291

            The metro screen isn’t gone. Its just as pointless – and since you seem to care about bloatware and yet don’t care about the bloatware that is metro with all the terrible metro apps… my mind is blown.
            The start menu needs upgrading. Nobody said that start menu in win7 was great. It just got worse with 8.
            Speed is immaterial because on a reasonably fast cpu (I3 from a couple of generations back for example) you do not notice o/s slowdowns as long as you have an SSD (cheapo one even).
            And if all you need the o/s for is to launch steam (if you’re a gamer) or a browser or office. Well honestly there is literally 0 reason to upgrade from 7. And if you need more from an o/s… then you’re doing something wrong honestly. Because os is just a shell.

            And yeah Win 10 is likely to be free-ish. Just like win8 was by the way. Nobody these days wants to spend any money on an o/s. Some people pirate, most people stick to the one they are using already. Because upgrades bring nothing bar placebo effects and workflow breaks.

          • Richard Wild

            Personally I liked what I saw in Technical Preview, if you didn’t then that’s your prerogative, but allow me my opinion as I allow you yours. Besides which you do not have to yry to convert me to Linux, as I stated above I use Mint, I just wish game devs would treat Linux with a bit more respect. A massive plus for me as far as Linux is concerned is how little hackers and coders target Linux compared to Windows, however you can’t blame M$ for that, only use your brain to steer clear of viruses. Not that I mind people who can’t however, more business for me!

          • Alucard291

            I’m not trying to convert you. I’ve grown out of linux about 15 odd years ago.

      • Dimensionallyspealking

        ( ? )…. There is one called Windows 95,…I dont Know If you get that, It was too stupid for most people,… Cheers

  • Alex Edwards

    I like Chrome as a browser, but really I don’t need it running in the background. it’s not my e-mail client or operating system. it’s a browser, that’s it. There is nothing it needs to tell me that is so critical that it needs a dedicated and immediate notification avenue.

  • gunslinger

    Easy enough to stop a rogue program that might be disguising itself as a Chrome session in the background. Open Task Manager, click on the processes tab, locate the process (will frequently be several of the same name), right-click the offending process, select open file location, right-click the file, and select rename. Change the name, even simply adding a .old extension is enough.
    Once the name is changed, the f**king program can no longer find it’s own file to restart itself, and it dies off in the Task Manager. Booya!

  • Nicolai Tassani

    Exist any way to run chrome in background but oculting the icon? Thanks!

  • Lawrence Shimer

    Chrome, even with the settings set “not” to run in the background will still continue to run In windows 10 v.10056, and not just occasionally. I have to close it out manually every time I use it.
    I hope Google is testing as well and notices this !
    Just a FYI for those of you who want to try Windows 10 TP here is a list of what I am using and they work well in Win 10 TP v10041 and above
    VooDooShield 2.30, Malwarebytes AM, Malwarebytes AE, Ccleaner Pro, Glary Utilities Pro, EVGA PrecisionX, and OpenDNS Updater v.2.2.1

    • Kelli Maxwell

      I’m on Windows 7, the box is unchecked and Chrome still has several processes that run in the background. I’ve also disabled all extensions.

  • joseph ferrante

    i tried what you said but found no such option when I clicked settings all it did was open a new window.

  • joseph ferrante

    I apologize I was right clicking the taskbar icon by mistake thanks I found it.

  • Sudharsan R


  • clare louise kent

    The settings/system option in advanced no longer exists. I had to open the notification bell in the taskbar, go to the settings there and manually untick each
    individually. It is interesting Google have installed this to my taskbar without even asking.

    • Joey-Elijah Sneddon

      Thanks for the update Clare.

      In Google’s defense: they haven’t installed anything extra to your taskbar without asking. When you installed Chrome you, well, installed Chrome! The Chrome Notification Centre is as much a part of the browser as bookmarks, the app launcher, tabs, etc.

      Although not a feature that’s useful to everyone the notification centre is designed to offer web developers a way to provide users with actionable notifications and alerts across all major desktops. If there wasn’t a ‘standard’ notification they could target they’d need to limit the kinds of features they can offer users, based on the operating system that user is on. Windows native notifications do not offer snap decisions, but those on Mac OS X do.

  • Michele Hollie Collins

    I am running Windows 10. Many times my chrome “desktop/ window” closes and disappears when I minimize a you tube video. The only way to find the open Chrome is (ctrl- alt- del). Task manager shows no “go to” option only “end task”. Upon restarting the Chrome app it tells me that Chrome has crashed and to Restore. So there is definitely a conflict with Chrome, Windows 10 and/or said video player.