Microsoft Edge: reveal hidden preferences on about:flags

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 18, 2017
Updated • Jul 19, 2017
Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge

The most recent build of Microsoft Edge on the Windows 10 Insider channel comes with a change that hides some preferences on the browser's about:Flags page.

Microsoft Edge is a rather bare bones web browser when you compare its feature set to other browsers out there. It is like Notepad on Windows, a good but not great program that you can use for basic tasks.

When you compare options that Edge ships with, with those of Google Chrome or Firefox, you will soon realize that you don't get a lot of them in the default Windows 10 browser.

Edge comes with a handful of interface options, policies for Microsoft Edge, and an about:flags page that works similarly to chrome://flags in Google Chrome or about:config in Firefox. It does not list as many options, but it gives Edge users and administrators additional configuration options, for instance to enable TCP Fast Open to speed up the loading of sites.

The about:flags page is not linked in Edge, and users need to know about it to run it. While it is unclear how widely it is used, it seems likely that the majority of Edge users does not know about it or makes use of it.

Microsoft Edge displays all options on the about:flags page on a single page in the Creators Update. It appears that Microsoft plans to change that by hiding some of the experimental flags on the page by default.

If you run the latest Insider Build and Edge that comes with it, you will notice that options are no longer displayed on the page by default.

Some of the preferences are hidden, and you need to use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-D to reveal them.

Once you use the shortcut, the hidden preferences are shown on the page.

This may remind you of how Opera Software handled things when it released the first versions of the the Chromium-based version of the Opera browser.  Opera introduced a Power mode in Opera 19 which users could activate by pressing a combination of keys.

It is unclear why Microsoft made the change. Maybe it does not want to expose the "average" user to some preferences that could cause issues when using Edge. But since most users probably never come into contact with the page, it is questionable whether this will have any beneficial effect.

Users who have configured settings on about:flags already however may wonder where some of the settings went once the Fall Creators Update is released by Microsoft.

Microsoft may have a change of heart before it releases the final version. For now, it seems as if the company will make things a tad more difficult when it comes to advanced settings in Edge. (via Deskmodder)

Update: The following flags are not displayed by default anymore:

  • Composition Engine
  • Text input and editing flags
    • Enable input through new insert commands
    • Enable new InsertParagraph command
    • Enable TFS3 implementation
    • Enable WinRT Clipboard APIs
  • JavaScript
    • Disable requestAnimationFrame callbacks fro cross-origin iframes when not visible
    • Force setTimeout and setInterval to 1 second periods for cross-origin iframes when not visible
    • Allow background tabs to be put into low power mode
    • Force setTimeout and setInterval to 30 seconds on background tabs instead of 1 second
    • Force setTimeout and setInterval to 30 seconds on non-visible cross-origin iframes instead of 1 second
    • Force frame rate to 30 fps instead of 60 fps
    • Disable high frequency script timers, forcing script timers to a max frequency of 16ms
    • Force setTimeout and setInterval to 1 second periods when the page is loading
    • Allow the render pipeline to be throttled to improve battery life
  • Screen Capture
    • Enable Screen Capture
  • Networking
    • Enable TCP Fast Open
  • Element Properties
    • Relay hover and active state to labels associated with an element
  • Pre-install Edge Extensions
Microsoft Edge: reveal hidden preferences on about:flags
Article Name
Microsoft Edge: reveal hidden preferences on about:flags
The most recent build of Microsoft Edge on the Windows 10 Insider channel comes with a change that hides some preferences on the browser's about:Flags page.
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  1. Bill Hewitt said on March 5, 2020 at 11:27 pm

    I believe that having Edge tired to Windows 10 is a good idea. Also, requiring that the OS be updated is good. This way, they don’t have to support Old Joe’s 386 running Win95 or they guy with two much time on his hands running some obscure version of Linux, our Linux at all. It’s hard enough to support a low level product in one version of an OS when “advanced” users have played with the registry or installed unsupported hardware. Also, there has always be a problem with people who play with the libraries and use undocumented procedures, then whine when a procedure that was never supported out promised to be in future versions is dropped.

  2. dpj said on August 3, 2017 at 6:44 am

    I think the Notepad analogy is silly. A better one would be Google Docs (Edge) compared to Word (Chrome).

  3. Zhong said on July 19, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Opera also changed the way how users access the settings like similar with Edge where you cannot change the location of the cache folder.

  4. Anonymous said on July 19, 2017 at 3:33 am

    Edge is a joke because its API is tied in to Windows 10 itself. That’s why it will always be an unfinished browser, just like Windows 10.

    To have an up to date browser, you have to update your own OS. Who wants that?

    If Microsoft wants to improve the marketshare of Edge, they should release a standalone version of it to all versions of Windows. They sabotage themselves this way.

    1. Deo et Patriae said on July 19, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      With Edge tied only on Win 10, you get the advantage the browser will support the newest and most efficient features the OS has to offer. No other browser comes even close to Edge’s efficiency. Fast with less CPU and GPU utilization than others and doesn’t have to become bloated Shite in order to support older Windows or other OSes.

      Nowadays, Chrome has become an OS itself. Firefox battles between a new architecture in parallel with the old and keep supporting all OSes. Good luck.

      Meanwhile, I threw an Ad Blocker, Mouse Gestures and inline Translator and believe me, these are the only addons I use on Firefox, too. That means, nothing I miss.

      1. brisson said on July 19, 2017 at 9:23 pm

        Whatever advantages Edge has over its competition in terms of speed and battery life have been proven to be pretty small, if they exist at all. I don’t hate Edge like some people do, I use it from time to time, but it is still really lacking in a variety of ways with the competition. For one, the uBlock Origin extension that is available in the Windows store hasn’t been updated in quite some time and the developer’s GitHub page has gone silent.

        Both Edge and Safari suffer from the same problem. For whatever benefits you gain in battery life or performance, they are mitigated by the lack of extensions or the fact the extensions are rarely updated.

      2. asd said on July 19, 2017 at 7:25 pm

        if those are all the addons you use with Firefox then there is a lot of potential you are not taking advantage of…

        see: CanvasBlocker, Decentraleyes, Don’t track me Google, No Resource URI Leak, Search via URL, uMatrix, X-notifier

        sadly most if not all of these addons will break when Firefox switches to WebExtensions

    2. ayy said on July 19, 2017 at 10:50 am

      Edge is a joke because Vivaldi is younger but develops faster than it.

      Microsoft don’t want to make mistake from IE era so they put Edge only in Windows 10, that way they can force update the browser if necessary.

      I wonder when Edge will replace IE? or will it be forever in beta mode?

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