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How to make Google Chrome less of a battery hog on your laptop

There's only one real solution to this problem.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

I have a love/hate relationship with Google Chrome. It's a great browser, but it's also a massive memory hog that can bring the most powerful of systems to their knees.

Recently I discovered an extension -- called Auto Tab Discard -- that does a really good job of taming the amount of system resources that Google Chrome consumes.

This extension has actually made Chrome bearable on my systems. It's a good extension, and I highly recommend trying it out.

But there's another Chrome problem that's tougher to deal with.

Battery consumption.

Now, if you're reading this on a desktop system, this won't bother you in the slightest. It also won't bother notebook users that keep their system hooked up to mains power all the time.

But if you're a laptop user that runs your system on battery power regularly, then Chrome is going to be a significant drain on your run time.

A huge drain.

On my MacBook Pro, Chrome is always the biggest daily drain. It's far less of a problem on the new M1 Pro MacBook Pro because this machine has great battery life, but it's still at the top of the list every time I look at Energy Impact and 12 hr Power in the Activity Monitor.

Not good if you want the best possible battery life.

So, what are your options?

Well, the first is to not use Chrome in the first place and use whatever the stock browser that comes with the operating system you are using. In test after test I've carried out, this is what's going to offer the best handling of system resources and battery life.

Also: Dumping Google Chrome? Here's the best browser to replace it

But there are plenty of people who just don't want to use Safari of Edge.

That's why Chrome is so popular.

So, what are the other options?

Well, let me tell you that I've tried pretty much every tip and trick and tweak out there to reduce battery consumption. Installing Auto Tab Discarder has made a difference, but it's a pretty modest improvement at best.

So, what's a solution that works?

Shut the browser down when you're not using it.

Yup, you read that right. Close Google Chrome.

I know, what a revelation.

Seems obvious, but so few of us do it nowadays. We just leave things running all the time and then complain that they are taking system resources and eating battery life.

Just shut it down.

Sure, there's a bit of pain when you need to fire up the browser (and the more tabs you have, the longer this start-up pain will last), but Chrome is only consuming battery when you're running it.

If it's not running, it can't be using power.

So, turn off Chrome when you want to squeeze out as much battery life as possible from your laptop, no matter if you're using Windows or macOS.

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