How To Use Chrome Developer Tools (Plus Types and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published March 25, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Chrome developer tools are tools within the Chrome internet browser that allow you to adjust a website's code and preview any changes. Having knowledge of these tools can help technology professionals improve the quality of their website designs. By reviewing some common examples of Chrome developer tools and how to use them, you can determine which option can best help you find career success. In this article, we discuss what Chrome developer tools are, explore their individual facets and explain how you can use them for web development.

What are Chrome developer tools?

Chrome developer tools are a set of tools that exist within the Chrome web browser and allow users to edit a website's code, problem-solve issues in its interface and enhance its aesthetic qualities. For example, you can remove script errors or increase font size on a header. These tools also allow you to see the results of your modifications, meaning they may especially benefit any professionals who focus on website functionality, such as front-end developers. This also makes them an appropriate tool for exploring various creative styles, as you can immediately visualize your ideas after implementing them.

Benefits of using Chrome developer tools

Some of the main reasons why using Chrome developer tools can be an effective way to edit a website are:

  • It's quick and efficient. The developer tools are directly accessible on the Chrome browser, meaning you can edit websites without alternating windows or tabs.

  • It can help you enhance a website's functionality. Chrome's developer tools include an audit function that generates a report on your website's performance, meaning how long it takes to load text, buttons and style elements. It also offers suggestions for improvement.

  • It features a debugging tool. You can use the Chrome developer tools to identify errors in a website's Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) or JavaScript codes, which are common programming languages for online platforms. The tools can allow you to identify the precise lines containing errors by pausing the code as it runs.

Related: How To Plan a Functional Website in 8 Steps

8 Chrome developer tools

These are the eight default Chrome developer tools:

1. Elements

Chrome developer tools' elements panel allows users to assess and edit a website's document object model (DOM), which is an interface that allows you to edit HTML elements. It also allows users to edit a website's CSS through a different mechanism, called the CSS Object Model (CSSOM). To find this tool, you can right-click any web page element and choose the "Inspect" function. Then, click the "Elements" tab on the top-right corner. Here are some components you can adjust in the "Elements" tab:

  • Styles: You can scroll through the "Styles" tab to adjust the text on a web page, including shifting its margins and changing its font size, type or color.

  • Page layouts: When you click the "Layout" tab, you can determine where to place design components on a page according to the size of a browser window.

  • Event listeners: By clicking this tab, you can review JavaScript code that allows users to perform actions on a web page, such as clicking buttons or typing words in a text box.

2. Console

The console panel helps developers study DOM errors and debug JavaScript code issues. When you click the "Console" tab, this feature typically shows the most critical bugs on the current web page. It also provides key details about these errors and supplies advice on how to address them. This ability makes the Console panel an appropriate way for beginners to practice writing effective website code.

3. Sources

The sources panel gives the user information about all files uploaded to create a specific webpage. It also allows users to open and view these respective files, which can help you edit or debug JavaScript and CSS codes. If you want to reuse code elements for different websites, you can also use the Sources panel's snippet feature to save certain lines.

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4. Network

The network panel helps users enhance a website's performance by finding and resolving internet connectivity issues. It's typically useful when trying to determine why a website is slow or unresponsive, as it records all network requests and stores them in an itemized log. It can also help you perform simulations to see how the webpage loads on a hardware system, which may be especially useful when trying to optimize content for computers with different storage and memory levels.

5. Performance

The performance panel helps users track and monitor a website's performance to enhance its speed. For example, fast websites can load design elements quickly and allow individuals to navigate content using their own speed preferences. The performance panel analyzes the website in real-time and provides a detailed report on different components, such as the speed of network requests and JavaScript functions. You can customize the report by choosing exactly what information it includes.

6. Memory

The memory panel gives the user information regarding how the respective webpage is using a device's random access memory (RAM), which often controls how fast or slow a website loads. Its main purpose is to help you analyze whether a system's RAM causes any speed-related issues on a website.

Related: 15 Website Metrics To Evaluate

7. Application

The application panel provides information about a browser's internal databases and storage system. It allows you to view a website's cookies, which are any text stored in a page's code, so it keeps certain information. For example, a website might use cookies to save an individual's email username and password for multiple browsing sessions. You can review the application panel to view and adjust this stored information, which can ensure a web page reflects updated data.

8. Security

The security panel's main purpose provides information on whether a website is secure, meaning a user's information is safe from any data breaches or similar instances. It uses different colors to indicate a website's security level, with green showing that its connections are secure, yellow meaning potential concerns and red highlighting issues that may require immediate resolution. This color system can often help users with no experience in cybersecurity identify concerns and prevent unfavorable events.

How to use Chrome developer tools

Consider following these steps to use Chrome's developer tools successfully:

1. Acquire basic HTML, CSS and JavaScript knowledge

To effectively use the Chrome developer tools, learn the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Although some developer tools are accessible to beginners and inexperienced users, having basic knowledge of these languages can help you use their full capabilities. To learn these coding languages, try researching online for open-source tutorials, as these resources may contain simplified language that can help you understand fundamental concepts. You can also browse website development forums and ask online experts specific questions about Chrome developer tools.

Related: What Is Mobile Friendly? (With Tips on Providing a Mobile Friendly Experience)

2. Open the Chrome developer tools window

You can access all Chrome's developer tools by opening the dedicated window. To do so, right-click anywhere on the page you want to develop and select “Inspect”. Alternatively, you can press the "Control," "Shift" and the "C" keys simultaneously to open a shortcut on Windows. If you're using a Mac® product, you can press they "Command," "Option" and C" keys instead to open the developer tools. Afterward, the navigation panel typically appears on the right-hand side of the browser window.

3. Click on a tab to access its features

After opening the developer tools tab, you can access all eight developer tools at the top of the browser's screen. Choose which website component to edit or analyze. For example, if a page doesn't open after clicking its associated button, it may be helpful to review the "Event Listener" section on the "Elements" tab. If you have concerns about your website's speed, you can review the "Performance" or "Memory" tabs for automatic reports, plus suggestions for potential improvements. You can also test your website's functionality on a mobile device by selecting "Toggle device toolbar" at the top of the screen.

4. Edit a website component

Use your knowledge of HTML, CSS or JavaScript to edit a line of text or script on your website using a Chrome developer tool. These edits typically appear on the webpage simultaneously, meaning you can assess your work efforts in real-time. If you receive an unexpected result, consider searching for the answer on a technology forum website. You can also connect with an expert about a specific developer tool issue, as they may have keen insights into potential solutions.

Please note that none of the organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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