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Google Chrome news roundup: Themes, Scripts, and Ad-blocking, oh my!

Google Chrome LogoIt's been about a week since Google launched the public beta of its open source web browser, Google Chrome. While the browser certainly ain't perfect by a long shot, it does render pages quickly and has a few innovative features like an unconventional placement for tabs and a unified search box/location bar.

Over the past week there's been a flurry of activity surrounding the browser. Not from Google developers, but by third party developers who have done their best to make Google at least as useful as Firefox or Safari. A few folks have taken a different approach and tried to make Firefox look and feel a bit more like Chrome. Here are a few of our favorite Google Chrome updates from week one.

Google Chrome theme


If you like Google Chrome's layout but can't stand the bland light blue color scheme, you're in luck. It turns out that all you need to do to change the browser's theme is replace a single default.dll. Your first step should be to the ChromeSpot message boards where dozens of users have posted custom themes. You can also find custom themes at Google Chrome Themes. (Link removed due to allegations that the developers were stealing themes without crediting the authors).

One you find a theme you like, you should backup your default theme by making a copy of your default.dll file. It's located in \Documents and Settings\[username\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\[version number]\Themes in Windows XP. Then just download the theme of your choice and unzip the new default.dll location to the same location.

If you're using Windows Vista the path should be \Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\[version number]\Themes\

Unfortunately since Google hasn't yet built a theme manager for Chrome there's no simple way to switch between mulitple themes from within the browser settings. If you're looking for an easier way to switch between themes you can try the Chrome Automatic Theme Switcher, but it won't work with the latest build of Chrome.

[via Lifehacker and Google Blogoscoped]

Google Reader with Favicons

Greasemetal: Run user scripts in Chrome

While Chrome doesn't support browser plugins, add-ons, or whatever else you might want to call them, it didn't take long for developer Kazuho Oku to come up with a way to add support for user scripts. Greasemetal is a utility that lets you run third party scripts to alter the way web pages appear in Chrome.

In other words, Greasmetal is kind of like Greasemonkey for Firefox. And in fact, you can run many scripts written for Firefox, Safari, Opera, or other browsers in Chrome using Greasmetal.

Greasemetal is a bit more complicated to use than Greasemonkey. Once the plugin is installed you need to launch Chrome by firing up Greasemetal.exe which will then pull up Chrome. If you just launch Chrome the old fashioned way, any scripts you install will not work.

Once you're ready to start installing scripts, just download the JavaScript files to the userjs folder in your My Documents directory. The image above shows Chrome running a script that shows feed favicons in Google Reader.

[via ReadWriteWeb]

Chromium Nightly UpdaterChromium Nightly Updater

Want to make sure you've always got the latest, bleeding edge version of Google Chrome? Chromium Nightly Updater is a small utility that will check the Google servers and see if there's a new version and give you the option of downloading a ZIP file or executable installer.

What you'll actually be downloading is Chromium, the open source browser that Chrome is based on. The icon looks a little different and more blue. But deep down inside it's the same browser you've come to know and love over the past few days.

Nightly builds typically include a few bug fixes that you may not find in the official beta. But they often introduce bugs of their own. So download the nighly builds at your own risk.

[via gHacks]

Bookmarklets that work like primitive plugins

As I've mentioned, Chrome doesn't technically support plugins. But by throwing a few web-based JavaScript bookmarklets into your bookmark toolbar you can get accomplish some of the same tasks that you'd normally need a plugin for.
Chrome bookmarklets

Blogote has compiled a list of 11 bookmarklets that let you do everything from blocking ads on a page to submitting the page you're visiting to social bookmarking services. The image above shows what happens when you click the Twitter now bookmarklet: A window pops up with the title of the page you're visising and a TinyURL link to the page.

Other Google Chrome news

I've barely scratched the surface of the plugins, modifications, and tricks that people have implemented in the last week to bend Google Chrome to their will. I suspect the number of Google Chrome hacks will grow exponentially in the next few weeks. In the meantime, here are a few more links you might find interesting:
And you can find a ton of links, updates, and other news bits at Download Squad's Google Chrome page.

Got any tips or tricks that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Tags: bookmarklets, chromium, google-chrome, greasemetal, greasemonkey, javascript, nightly-builds, opensource, privoxy, themes, tweet-this, user-scripts, userscripts, web-browsers