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Google Continues to Evolve Look and Feel of Chrome

Posted July 23, 2018 | Cloud | Google Chrome | Windows | Windows 10

Google has been slowly moving the desktop version of its Chrome web browser to Material Design 2 all year, tweaking the look and feel as it goes.

Looking at this from the perspective of a Windows user, I embrace these changes: Material Design 2 meshes well with Windows 10, I think, and it looks better than the white-heavy designs of the past. In fact, I switched over to using the “Canary” version of Chrome months ago specifically so that I can experience any changes early on in the process. (Canary is a frequently-updated early beta version of the browser that gets new features first.)

Tied to this, I first wrote about the coming Material Design 2-related changes to Chrome for Windows back in April, when Google started testing curved tabs and a cleaner look and feel in Canary. And I really prefer this design.

There have been two major updates, both in Canary, since then.

First, Google added a Material Design 2-based address bar and support for the Windows 10 system theme back in June. So those who apply the Windows 10 accent color to window title bars will now see that color in the top of the Chrome window, which looks great.

And now this week, we see a second change, which Google refers to as a “Material-refresh for Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS.” So in addition to the curved tabs that debuted earlier this year, Chrome now sports a more minimalistic look for the non-displayed tabs, which now blend better into the window’s top area. And if you only have a single tab displayed, it will no longer have a curved, well-defined look.

To enable this change, you need to be running Chrome Canary. Then, navigate to chrome://flags and search for “Single-tab mode” and restart the browser.

Old single tab style (top) and new single tab style (bottom)


Google will continue experimenting with the look and feel of Chrome and will eventually roll these changes into future public releases of the browser, as it did with the initial curved tab design.


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