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Configuring Other Preferences

Not all user preferences are managed through policy, typically because they do not need to be managed centrally.

Preferences vs. Policies

Preferences and policies are two different methods for controlling the browser's behavior. They have different purposes, however:



There are several notable preferences that are also policies, "homepage" being the most common.

Policies take precedence to preferences and preferences take precedence to recommended policies. If "homepage" is specified in both the policies, and in the "master_preferences" file, policies will always override.

Should I use a Preference, or a Policy?

Prefer policies to configure Chrome on managed computers. Use recommended policies for settings that users should be able to change, and use mandatory policies for settings that users should not be able to change. A master_preferences file may be used to make default settings for new users, though doing so has some drawbacks:

The Gritty Details

Preferences are kept in a file named "Preferences", which every Chromium / Google Chrome user will have in their own user directory. This Preferences file is a text file that contains JSON markup. Going through and editing every user's Preferences file to deploy a behavior change is really cumbersome and some preferences are protected by cryptographic hashes and can not be manually edited, so there are easier ways to manage this:

The master_preferences file, like each user's Preferences file, is simply a text file that contains JSON markup, and will look something like this:

  "homepage" : "",
  "homepage_is_newtabpage" : false,
  "distribution" : {
      ...more stuff here ...

Some of the preferences should be obvious, but some are not entirely clear -- they are described at the end of this document.

Moreover, you'll notice that some of these preferences are managed by policy. Note that no matter what is in the master_preferences or Preferences files, policy always takes precedence. Setting the home page in both the Preferences file and policy means that the home page in policy will be the one that Chromium / Google Chrome uses, and the user will not be able to edit it.

Preferences List

So, what preferences should you actually use? There are actually lots and lots of preferences, most of which you won't really care about.

Here is a sample master_preferences list that may be of interest (this is a fully-functional master_preferences file):


"homepage": "",

"homepage_is_newtabpage": false,

"browser": {

"show_home_button": true


"session": {

"restore_on_startup": 4,

"startup_urls": [




"bookmark_bar": {

"show_on_all_tabs": true


"sync_promo": {

"show_on_first_run_allowed": false


"distribution": {

"import_bookmarks_from_file": "bookmarks.html",

"import_bookmarks": true,

"import_history": true,

"import_home_page": true,

"import_search_engine": true,

"ping_delay": 60,

"do_not_create_desktop_shortcut": true,

"do_not_create_quick_launch_shortcut": true,

"do_not_create_taskbar_shortcut": true,

"do_not_launch_chrome": true,

"do_not_register_for_update_launch": true,

"make_chrome_default": true,

"make_chrome_default_for_user": true,

"system_level": true,

"verbose_logging": true,

"browser": {

"confirm_to_quit": true,



"first_run_tabs": [






Most of these settings should be self-explanatory. The most interesting settings are:

Pre-installed Bookmarks

To add pre-installed bookmarks, you have to create a file that contains all of your bookmarks, then give the right signals for a Chrome install to import them when a user runs Chrome for the first time.

  1. First, set up bookmarks in Chrome as you'd like them to appear to the end-user
  2. Go to the Wrench Menu -> Bookmark Manager -> Organize Bookmarks -> Export Bookmarks
  3. The file that is saved/exported contains all of the bookmark data that will be imported.

To instruct an end-user's Chrome to import these bookmarks, include these elements in your master_preferences:

{ "distribution": { "import_bookmarks": false, "import_bookmarks_from_file": "c:\\path\\to\\your\\bookmarks.html" }, "bookmark_bar": { "show_on_all_tabs": true } }

The relevant entries are: