First look at Google Chrome's upcoming link preview feature

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 13, 2024
Google Chrome
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Google is working on a link preview feature in its Chrome web browser that enables users to preview links without opening them in a tab.

The link preview feature has been in testing for a while, but Google continues to experiment with its functionality. Previously, it only showed link previews on hover. The latest iteration of the feature adds other preview triggers. Whether all of these will make it in the final release remains to be seen.

Link previews in Chrome

Google Chrome Link Previews

The initial preview feature supported two options. Holding down the Alt-key before clicking on links, or right-clicking on a link and selecting the "preview link" option of the context menu.

Both opened the linked resource in a floating headless window in the browser. The size of the window depends on the size of the Chrome browser window. It is always smaller than Chrome's window.

You can move it around on the screen and scroll the page. Interactions with the open page are limited though. You have no option to open other links on the page or interact with page elements.

To give you an example; if you open a page with a YouTube video or game, you cannot play the video or that game in the preview window.

Chrome Link Preview

In the latest version of Chrome's link preview feature, Google added the option to display previews without clicking on links. After updating Chrome Canary to the latest version and enabling the feature, it is now possible to preview links by holding down the Alt-key and hovering over the links in the Chrome window.

Note that you can only preview one link at a time. Once a preview of a webpage is open, you cannot hover over another link to preview it instead. This becomes an option again after closing the open preview.

The feature feels incomplete at this point. It is, for instance, not possible to use the scrollbar to scroll the webpage.

How to enable or disable link previews in Google Chrome

enable or disable Chrome's link preview feature

The link preview feature is enabled by default in Canary versions of the Google Chrome web browser. If you use it, you should be able to hold down the Alt-key and either click on a link or hover over it to preview it. The option to right-click is also available if you prefer it.

There is no need to enable the feature. If you do not want it, you may disable it however. This removes its functionality from the browser, including the right-click menu.

Here is how that is done:

  1. Load chrome://flags/#link-preview in the browser's address bar.
  2. Set the status of the feature to Disabled to turn it off. If you want to enable it, set its status to either Enabled or Default. Both do the same thing.
  3. Restart Google Chrome.

Closing Words

Link previews are not a new invention. The Firefox add-on Interclue added link previews to the browser back in 2007. While it is long gone, numerous link previewing extensions exist for all major platforms. These allow users to check out webpages without opening them directly in the browser.

This process offers no privacy or security benefits, and it looks as if Google's implementation does not either. Other Chromium-based browsers will get the feature as well, unless they remove it from code actively.

Now You: link previews, useful feature? (via MSPowerUser / Leopeva64)

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First look at Google Chrome's upcoming link preview feature
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First look at Google Chrome's upcoming link preview feature
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A first look at the link preview feature of the Google Chrome web browser, which allows you to preview links without opening them.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. scot said on March 17, 2024 at 3:10 am
    Reply

    This is the most annoying thing that I’ve ever run across in a browser. Thank goodness there is a way to turn it off. This little window popping up every single time a click a link? No thank you.

  2. Anonymous said on March 14, 2024 at 6:21 pm
    Reply

    @45 RPM

    I forgot Chromium is now 123. The preview link seems to be able to open Youtube better than 122, so videos still don’t seem to load but they load better than previous versions…. So if you were to open a Youtube video, even if it doesn’t load, you can see signs of ads and that’s because uBlock can’t inject JS there to get rid of them, but anyway, since YT videos still download load, it doesn’t matter.

    Websites are still loaded in a restricted way, so they will not work 100% but uBlock still applies network requests rules, which is what really matters for privacy reasons(= trackers), so you are still wrong.

    Also, nobody has to right click links and preview them, just like nobody has to use Edge sidebar (I have no idea about google’s one) and then navigate through websites with it, uBlock still will apply network request filter rules, and that’s what matters to block 3p trackers, because if you didn’t know, blocking anything 1p, is pretty much useless, since you are getting in their literal domain, you will give so much of your data just by entering in their website, that blocking 1p is not effective for privacy reasons, so even if uBlock works, Youtube and Google and anyone can still gather your data since you are connecting to THEIR servers, if you don’t want to do that, then don’t use their services so you never get to connect to their servers, as simple as that.

    1. 45 RPM said on March 15, 2024 at 12:46 pm
      Reply

      Please get a life and stop bloviating stuff that you have zero evidence of. Do you perhaps work for Google? Who can tell. It almost sounds like someone who called their kids delinquent trash or something and is furious.

      Stop replying already, we get it. “Google fanboy offended and won’t let go”.

  3. Anonymous said on March 14, 2024 at 6:11 pm
    Reply

    Wikipedia implemented their preview on their own,… it has nothing to do with this.
    And Google has internet power, same with having a Google account to login websites, that didn’t magically appear, it was implemented by each web developer in every individual websites, so if you are going to dumbly rant about it, then complain at them, not Preview link feature being added to Chromium browsers.

    But thanks for ranting about everything else but the Preview link feature discussed in the article.

    If you didn’t even try to read and understand this feature, you only can preview links if you right click on links, you don’t get this automatically….. so why are you ranting about? just to post anything? even if you clearly don’t even know this feature?

    I have used it many times for like a month, it is useful in certain situations, it loads websites in a more restricted way, so some websites will not work as opening them directly, but I have used for example to open a Github issue from my email and then post and do whatever I need to do without my history getting unnecessary history entries.

    So next time try the feature, instead of bringing everything else that is wrong in the internet to somehow complain about a feature you haven’t even tried to use.

  4. Anonymous said on March 14, 2024 at 5:51 pm
    Reply

    @45 RPM

    Did you even test your claim… or I better ask… do you know what you are ranting about?
    They are not bypassing anything, uBlock works the same in Link Preview than any other website, Network Requests are blocked in link preview the same as any other website. so what are you talking about?

    The only thing not being applied by uBlock is cosmetics, and cosmetics only hide HTML elements…. also, Scriptlet Injections are not being applied, but Link preview doesn’t really load JS, so it doesn’t wouldn’t matter.
    Since you clearly don’t know, Scriptlets are needed to block Youtube ads and many services ads like that, but if you try to open a YT video in link preview it won’t work, also in some websites it doesn’t even really load, images and all that. It is just mean to make it easier to see websites without having to click on the website and being recorded in the history if not needed.

    Cosmetics are not being applied for obvious reasons, just like happens in Edge sidebar, of course, Cosmetics are only hiding HTML elements so it doesn’t matter if they are applied or not, they don’t add or reduce privacy nothing. ads will not load if JS and if images you can block them with a network request.

    So instead of making claims you clearly don’t know about, better research first. Because a preview that barely loads anything that could be used to ‘gather data’ and where uBlock and Adguard and Brave adblocker and whatever still works, then you are just talking stuff you clearly don’t know about and you clearly haven’t researched, in other words, you are just making stuff up.

    1. 45 RPM said on March 15, 2024 at 8:10 am
      Reply

      @Anonymous

      Really, you called my brief comment a rant? Go to the nearest store and purchase a sense of humor, the concept of sarcasm and a nickname/handle to make your posts easier to track – I mean avoid.

  5. 45 RPM said on March 14, 2024 at 3:04 pm
    Reply

    Well, that’s one way of getting tasty data bypassing uBLock Origin, Privacy Badger, Tampermonkey, etc.

  6. John said on March 13, 2024 at 9:34 pm
    Reply

    Google is taking page pre-loading to the next level. I find this “feature”, already present on Wikipedia, to be an annoyance.

    Already half the websites I visit are asking for permission to send notifications on my Desktop browser. Permission to continue to track me. Too many sites I visit ask me to login with my Google Account!!! when all I want to do is read a paragraph or two.

    These companies have reached the pinnacle of what they’re asking the web to do and are now inventing stuff to keep busy and justify their employees.

  7. Fred said on March 13, 2024 at 8:37 pm
    Reply

    Several years ago an extension called Cool Previews worked very well for this but was unfortunately discontinued.

  8. John G. said on March 13, 2024 at 6:41 pm
    Reply

    Not the worst upcoming feature.
    Thanks for the article! :]

  9. upp said on March 13, 2024 at 4:35 pm
    Reply

    Bloatware

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