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Google regularly delivers a new version of the Chrome browser roughly every ten weeks, but sometimes flaws are discovered that require something even faster. And today is one of those days, according to The Hacker News, who spotted an ominously-worded update on Google's Chrome Releases Blog indicating that Chrome users should update their browser as soon as possible.

For this specific security patch, the update notes, "Access to bug details and links may be kept restricted until a majority of users are updated with a fix. We will also retain restrictions if the bug exists in a third party library that other projects similarly depend on, but haven't yet fixed." These kinds of precautions are customarily limited to pretty serious issues, hence the urgency.

SEE: 5 tips and tricks for Google Chrome on Android and iPhones

Google has also stated that this security flaw is actively being used "in the wild," which is engineer jargon for "among the general public," as opposed to laboratory testing conditions where risks can remain theoretical. But as far as we can tell, the flaw is limited to the Windows and Mac versions of Chrome. The iOS and Android versions are unaffected.

To manually check for an available update for the Mac and Windows versions, click the three-dot menu in the upper right, then Help (near the bottom of the menu that pops up), then About Google Chrome. This will open a new window where the browser will automatically begin an update check, which should only take a few seconds.

If you receive a Chrome update, you'll need to close all of the app's windows and re-open them for the change to take effect. After updating, the About Google Chrome page will display a button that you can click on to make the browser do this automatically. On Windows, at least, the version you should be looking for is 72.0.3626.121.

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Of course, the other alternative is to use a different browser in the meantime, such as Firefox, Vivaldi, Brave, or Opera. All four of these have add-on catalogs for things like password managers and dark modes.

Note: If you have a lot of open tabs that you don't want to lose track of when restarting Chrome, there's a setting in the browser that lets you re-open those tabs upon restart. Click that three-dot button again, then Settings, then scroll down to the On Startup section and click the radio button next to "Continue where you left off." The change will take effect right away.

Takeaways

  • Google is releasing a critical security update for the desktop version of its Chrome browser, and all affected users are urged to update as soon as they can.
  • Due to the severity of the flaw, Google is delaying a description of the problem until most users have gotten the update.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.