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Use initial preferences for Chrome browser

Applies to IT administrators who want to deploy a initial_preferences file for managed Chrome browser on Windows and Mac computers.

As an admin, you can use initial preferences to deploy default preferences to Chrome browser users on managed computers. These preferences are applied when users first open Chrome browser. For example, you can set the homepage or choose which tabs and URLs are shown when they open Chrome browser.

Note: For Chrome browser 91 or later, the file named initial_preferences replaces the master_preferences file. To minimize any disruption, Chrome continues to support both filenames, and more notice will be given in the Chrome Enterprise release notes before we remove support for the former filename. 

When to use initial preferences

Use initial preferences to:

  • Configure default settings that users can change later.
  • Deploy settings that you don’t want to manage, or aren’t available, with a Chrome policy.
  • Apply settings to Microsoft® Windows® computers that aren’t joined to an Active Directory® domain.

To apply settings that you don’t want users to change, enforce Chrome policies on Windows or Mac computers instead.

If a setting is managed by a Chrome policy and also configured in the initial_preferences file, the policy takes precedence and users can’t edit the setting. For details, see View a device’s current Chrome policies.

Note: The "Welcome to Chrome" dialog shown to users on Chrome's first run on Windows 8 will be removed in Chrome 78. Support for the distribution.suppress_first_run_default_browser_prompt initial_preferences setting will be removed accordingly.

Before you begin

If users already have Chrome browser on their computers, you need to remove it before you complete the steps below.

Deploy initial preferences

Step 1: Create the initial_preferences file
Create the initial_preferences file that contains the settings that you want to apply to Chrome browser on users' computers. Use the example initial_preferences file that’s included in the Chrome Enterprise Bundle. Or, download it now. You can edit the JavaScript® Object Notation (JSON) file using a text editor.
For information about available preferences and how to set them, see Configuring Other Preferences.
Step 2: Automatically install Chrome extensions on users' computers (Optional)
To add features and functionality to Chrome browser, you can automatically install Chrome extensions. In the initial_preferences file, add information about the extensions that you want to automatically install on users' computers. Users need access to the extensions category in the Chrome Web Store or the URL where the Chrome extension’s .crx file is saved.
For details about how to automatically install extensions, see Pre-installed Extensions.
Step 3: Validate your file
Use your preferred tool to validate your initial_preferences file to make sure that there are no errors in the JSON code. If you find errors, check the syntax and structure of the initial_preferences file, make corrections, and validate it again.
Step 4: Push preferences to users
Push the initial_preferences file to users' computers at the same time as Chrome browser and any policies. The initial_preferences file needs to be added to the same folder as the chrome.exe file on users' computers.
  • Windows—C:\Program Files\Google\Chrome\Application\initial_preferences
  • Mac—~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Google Chrome Initial Preferences or /Library/Google/Google Chrome Initial Preferences
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