How to enable or disable Chrome extensions quickly and natively

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 12, 2014
Updated • Mar 2, 2019
Google Chrome

Some extensions that you have installed in Google Chrome may not need to run all the time. Think of an extension that works only on a single website or one that you only use for specific tasks such as development or research.

While some extensions use memory optimization techniques to use little or no memory while idle, others use the same amount all the time.

This may not be a problem if your system has plenty of memory, but if you are using Chrome on a low-end or mid-range system, it may be an issue as these extensions, even if not in use, may use memory that could be of use elsewhere.

You can check out a detailed analysis of the issue here.

Update: Chrome does not support extension shortcuts anymore in recent versions of the browser. You may configure extensions to run on select URLs or on user activation though. What follows below does not apply to recent versions of Chrome anymore. End

In this guide, I mentioned extensions that you can use to quickly switch of a group of or individual extensions. Since you may not need some extensions all the time, you can use the method to quickly turn them off to reduce the memory use of the browser.

Update: It appears that activation has a different meaning than enabling or disabling the extension. While you will notice that an extension will work or won't work if you hit the mapped shortcut, it won't be disabled or enabled as an extension in the browser.

What I did not mention back then was that the Chrome browser ships with a built-in option to enable or disable individual extensions using keyboard shortcuts.

chrome keyboard shortcuts toggle extensions

Here is how that works:

  • Open Chrome's Extensions page in the browser either by loading chrome://extensions/ directly in the address bar or by clicking on the Hamburger menu button and selecting More Tools > Extensions from the context menu that opens up.
  • Here you find listed all installed extensions and whether they are enabled or not.
  • Locate keyboard shortcuts at the bottom of that page.
  • When you click on the link, an overlay menu appears that you can use to set shortcuts for extensions individually.
  • To do so click on the "not set" field and press a shortcut combination on your keyboard, e.g. Ctrl-Shift-m
  • Hit ok once you are done.

The shortcut can be used to toggle the state of the extension. If it is enabled, it will disable the extension and vice verse.

As I have mentioned before, this works only for individual extensions. While you can set a shortcut for all extensions you have installed in Chrome, it becomes less practicable with each extension installed.

If you do have installed one or two, or want to toggle the state of one or two only, then this may be the best solution as you don't have to install another extension to manage the activation state of extensions in the browser.

You will notice that it may take a while before the state is toggled after you hit the shortcut that you have set.

How to enable or disable Chrome extensions quickly and natively
Article Name
How to enable or disable Chrome extensions quickly and natively
Find out how you can toggle the state of Chrome extensions with a simple shortcut that you can set natively in the browser.
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  1. Robert Ament said on March 23, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Tried this as I can’t get a Chrome extension to toggle on when I click on the icon button. The shortcut does the same thing – makes the icon button blink but stays greyed out so can’t activate extension.

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