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Google lowers power use in latest Chrome update

The latest Chrome update changes the way the browser handles tabs to reduce CPU and power consumption. Chrome 91 also lets people copy and paste files directly into emails.

Google has released an update for Chrome that changes how the web browser deals with inactive tabs to reduce the strain on computer resources.

Chrome 91, which Google announced this week, will reduce CPU and power consumption by pausing collapsed tab groups, which are web pages hidden under a common heading. It will also let people copy files from a clipboard without having to drag and drop.  

The update lets people group tabs to keep them organized and separate from active tabs. Chrome 91 will freeze inactive ones, stopping them from performing actions in the background.

Chrome 91 won't freeze all tabs, however. It will not pause grouped tabs playing audio, recording video or audio, or connected to a USB device.

The tab freezing is the latest step in Google's effort to reduce computer resources used by tabs. In Chrome 87, Google introduced the idea of tab throttling by increasing from once per second to once per minute the rate at which open pages not in use could execute JavaScript.

Another update in Chrome 91 lets people take a file copied to the clipboard and paste it into an email. Before, people could only use the drag-and-drop function.

In addition to the updates, Google patched eight high-severity vulnerabilities and 24 less critical bugs in the newest version of Chrome.

Chrome 91 will roll out over the coming days to all Windows, Mac and Linux computers. Google has released Chrome updates at nearly a monthly rate.

Chrome 91 comes on the heels of Microsoft's latest update to its Edge browser. Edge 91 attacks some of the same problems as Chrome 91 by making it possible to open the browser faster and use fewer resources when running multiple tabs.

Microsoft announced Edge 91 at Build, its annual developer-oriented conference. The company said the latest version is the "best performing browser on Windows 10."

Edge 91 frees up system resources by putting ads to sleep when a person puts tabs in the background. It also runs Edge processes in the background, so the browser launches faster, a feature Microsoft called startup boost.

Both Edge and Chrome are built on Chromium, an open-source browser project initiated by Google.   

Microsoft and Google collaborate to improve Chromium. Microsoft touted at Build that it had 5,300 Chromium revisions accepted so far.

Maxim Tamarov is a news writer covering mobile and end-user computing. He previously wrote for The Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C., and the Sun Transcript in Winthrop, Mass. He graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @MaximTamarov.

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