A shiny new stable release of Google Chrome has hit the web, so in this post we look at the key changes it brings.

Now Google Chrome 76, like every update to the browser, contains a smorgasbord of improvements, enhancements, and fixes — more than just those listed here.

But, in keeping with the past few releases, there are some major changes that desktop users will notice, too.

Flash is Disabled by Default

Begone, Adobe Flash!

In Google Chrome 76 the Flash player plugin is disabled by default on all websites, zero exceptions.

The web in general has been trying to move past the need for this particularly egregious plugins for what feels like forever, with Google’s efforts leading the pack in particular.

You can still use Flash in Google Chrome from v76 and up, it’s just on click-to-play basis (so if your favourite app, site or service uses it relax: it’ll still work).

That said, Google Chrome won’t support Flash player forever. Come December 2020 it won’t work at all…

Go Truly Incognito

Fans of Google Chrome’s incognito mode will be relived to hear that websites —finally— can no longer “detect” when you’re using it.

Prior to now sites could query the browser to see if visitors were visiting while in incognito mode and, if detected, block or limit access to content and features.

But no more — or at least, that’s the theory: canny web devs are already finding other ways to sniff out cloaked visitors…

Easier Web App Installs

I’m a big fan of Progressive Web Apps (which hereon I’ll refer to as PWAs) so I’m stoked to see that Google is making it easier to install PWAs on the desktop using Google Chrome.

When you browse to a website that is available as a PWA you’ll see a new “install” option appear in the address bar (which collapses down to a ‘+’ in a circle after a few seconds):

PWA install prompt in Google Chrome

Hit the install button to access a prompt from which you can “install” a shortcut to the app or service on your desktop (Windows, macOS and Linux) or to the Chrome OS app launcher.

You can manage PWAs (as most other web apps) from the chrome://apps page in a Chrome browser, or the App Launcher on Chrome OS.

Turning to the Dark Side

People really love dark mode. There are entire Tumblrs dedicated to it.

Android Q adds one; the next iPhone update adds on; Windows 10 already has one, as does macOS — and soon, so too will Chrome OS.

As part of Chrome’s effort comes support for the prefers-color-scheme media query in Chrome. This addition is technical (i.e. you can’t ‘see it) but it means, in theory, compatible websites could automatically switch to ‘dark mode’ based on your system’s dark mode setting.

Which is pretty neat, huh?

Download Google Chrome 76

If you don’t have Chrome installed on your computer, and you’d like it, just head (as always) to the official download page:

Download Google Chrome

If you’re reading this article in Google Chrome on Windows or macOS (and chances are you are) you can check to see if a new version of Chrome is available by going to Settings > Help > About Chrome.

If an update is available, Chrome will fetch it and prompt you to restart the browser to complete installation.

On Linux things are a little different: you’ll need to check for an update using your Linux distribution’s “update” tool.

When you install Google Chrome on a distro like Ubuntu the official Google updates repo is added to your system. Updates are delivered via this.

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