How Often Does Google Update Chrome?

Google updates Chrome regularly with new features, security updates, and more. Chrome downloads those updates and installs them automatically. But how often does that happen? It depends—turns out the Chrome update process is pretty complicated.

Major Stable Versions Every Six Weeks

Chrome is developed in the open and anyone can install the unstable versions. But, when it comes to the Stable branch, builds are released roughly every six weeks. For example, Chrome 73 was released on March 12, and Chrome 74 was released on April 23rd—six weeks to the day.

While it hasn’t always been like this—originally, Chrome updates were pretty sporadic—the Chrome team committed to six-week release intervals back in 2010 and has been relatively consistent since then. Sometimes releases come in four weeks, other times in eight. But generally speaking, it’s always somewhere right around the six-week mark.

It’s also worth noting that Google can adjust the stable release schedule around Chrome “no meeting weeks” and holidays.

Security and Bug Fixes When Necessary

While you can pretty much count on major version releases coming out regularly, bug fix and security updates are much less predictable. Just combing through the Stable release update changelogs shows that there have been three updates since Chrome 73 was released on March 12th, and there’s no discernable interval between each release. That’s pretty much par for the course for these types of updates.

But at the very least you can count on Chrome getting a few bug fix and/or security updates in between major releases.

Chrome will install both major stable updates and smaller updates automatically when they’re available.  You can always open the menu and head to Help > About Google Chrome to check for and install any updates immediately, too.

When Is the Next Version Arriving?

If you’re curious when the next major version of Chrome will be released to the stable channel, check the Chrome Platform Status website. This also shows you when the current stable version became stable, as well as information about the unstable versions of Chrome being tested in the Beta and Dev channels.

Chrome OS Also Updates Every Six Weeks

Like the major browser releases, Chrome OS is updated roughly every six weeks. While the version numbers and features generally mirror that of their browser counterpart, Chrome OS releases usually happen a week after the browser update.

So, for example, Chrome 73 was released on March 12, but Chrome OS 73 didn’t land on the stable channel until March 19th.

Otherwise, Chrome OS follows the same basic release process as the Chrome OS browser. The primary exception here is that the rollout schedule may vary depending on the particular Chrome OS device—it may take a few weeks to hit some devices, as each one is slightly different.

How Chrome Update Channels Work

There are four branches of Chrome development: Canary, Dev, Beta, and Stable. Those are in order from least stable (Canary) to most stable (um, Stable).

Eventually, the features that first show up in Canary should make their way to the stable channel—that’s why a lot of users who want to get a glimpse into the future run multiple version of Chrome on their computers. It’s also really cool to see features progress as they make their way through the release channels.

Every six weeks, a Canary build is set as the new milestone stabilization branch. This is where new features and enhancements are designed and implemented. It remains here for two more weeks, at which point it’s pushed into the first beta release. After two more weeks in the beta channel, a feature freeze is put in place—that means all features destined for the stable channel should be code-complete. This is also the reason why we see some features that were initially planned for a particular stable release get pushed back to the next major build.

For the remaining four weeks of the beta stage, new builds are released weekly up until the stable release. The Thursday before the stable version is pushed out (which generally happens on Tuesdays), the latest beta build becomes the release candidate. At that point, all stable features are finalized and merged with the stable branch.

For testing bug fixes, Google also has another build called a “Stable Refresh.” That’s a stable release falling outside of the regular release schedule and is used to fix critical issues that just can’t wait.

Stable Releases Roll Out Slowly

All stable Chrome releases follow a staged release schedule (save for Linux, which is pushed to 100% at the time of release). The desktop versions—Mac and Windows—are released in four states: 5%, 15%, 50%, and 100%. That’s why different users get updates at different times.

Android follows a similar schedule, albeit with one additional step: 1%, 5%, 15%, 50%, and 100%.

iOS follows a different pattern than the other two, with the update rolling out to all users over a seven-day period: Day 1: 1%; Day 2: 2%; Day 3: 5%; Day 4: 10%; Day 5: 20%, Day 6: 50%; and Day 7: 100%.

These staged rollouts allow Google to pinpoint issues before they reach all users, thus stopping the rollout and resuming it once the problem is corrected.

How to Update Google Chrome

While Google Chrome downloads and prepares updates in the background, you still need to restart your browser to perform the installation. Because some people keep Chrome open for days—maybe even weeks—the update could be idly waiting to install, putting your computer at risk.

In Chrome, click menu (three dots) > Help > About Google Chrome. You can also type chrome://settings/help into Chrome’s location box and press Enter.

Chrome will check for any updates and immediately download them as soon as you open the About Google Chrome page.

If Chrome has already downloaded and is waiting to install an update, the menu icon will change to an up arrow and take on one of three colors, depending on how long the update has been available:

  • Green: An update has been available for two days
  • Orange: An update has been available for four days
  • Red: An update has been available for seven days

After the update has installed—or if it’s been waiting for a few days—click “Relaunch” to finish the update process.

Warning: Make sure you save anything you’re working on. Chrome reopens the tabs that were open before the relaunch but doesn’t save any of the data contained in them.

If you’d rather wait to restart Chrome and finish up the work you’re doing, just close the tab. Chrome will install the update the next time you close and reopen it.

When you relaunch Chrome, and the update finally finishes installing, head back to chrome://settings/help and verify you’re running the latest version of Chrome. Chrome will say “Google Chrome is up to date” if you’ve already installed the latest updates.

Update Chrome

This guide will step you through the process of updating your Google Chrome web browser.

Do you need to know what version of Chrome do I have?

Unless you have specifically disabled it Chrome will check for updates every couple of hours and automatically update itself, but here’s how to manually tell Chrome to update itself.

Click the “Customize and Control” button

In the top-right corner of the Chrome window you’ll see the Customise menu icon – it looks like three little black dots on top of each other – click it.

This will reveal a menu with lots of options. One of them will be named “Settings“.

Hover your mouse on the “Help” menu item

When you hover on the Help menu item another menu will appear out to the side – it contains the About Google Chrome option.

Click “About Google Chrome”

You will be taken to the About page for Chrome.

Chrome will automatically check for updates

As soon as you open the “About” screen for Chrome, it will automatically start to check if there are any updates available for your copy of Chrome. If there are updates available it will start to download them. You don’t need to do anything to start this process.

Chrome tells you that it’s “Checking for updates…” while it checks for a newer version.

 

If Chrome finds updates, click “Relaunch” to install them

If Chrome finds updates, it will automatically download and install them. Once this is done you need to click the Relaunch button to finish this process. Clicking it will restart Chrome. Chrome should remember which websites you have open and reopen them when it starts up again.

When Chrome relaunches, you’ll have the latest version

Chrome now tells you “Google Chrome is up to date“.

Congratulations, you have now ensured that your copy of Chrome is up to date.

In normal circumstances, Chrome will keep itself up to date automatically – if for some reason Chrome didn’t update itself, please speak to your IT Support team for further help.

Chrome auto-updates itself

Google’s Chrome web browser was the first web browser to provide automatic updates. This was something of a revolution, because prior to this, it was the user’s responsibility to update their web browser. This usually meant that only the most vigilant and technically savvy users had up to date web browsers.

Having an up to date web browser is vital to having a safe and fully-featured web experience and Chrome’s auto-update feature facilitates this very easily.

What if Chrome is not already auto-updating?

If you are being told that Chrome is out of date (our homepage will tell you if Chrome is out of date) then in most cases you just need to wait a few hours and Chrome will auto update itself.

If this doesn’t occur, it’s possible that:

  • Your computer’s firewall is preventing Chrome from checking if there are updates
  • Your employer has blocked Chrome from auto-updating
  • You (or someone else) has configured your Chrome to not auto-update

Fixing these issues is beyond the scope of this article; these situations are typically very rare.

“I have the latest version of ChromeOS but you say my Chrome Browser is out of date!”

Even though you have the latest version of ChromeOS, occasionally the version of Chrome Browser you are running might considered out of date. This is because there is sometimes a short time-lag between the latest version of Chrome Browser being released and the latest version of ChromeOS being released as well. We’ve got a page with more details about ChromeBrowser and ChromeOS versions if you’re curious.