back to article Google threatens Chrome address bar with death

Google is exploring several "major" changes to the Chrome user interface, including a particularly compact user interface that actually hides the URL address bar when pages aren't loading. In a recent post to the Chromium developer mailing list entitled "Major UI efforts", Google man Jeff Chang pointed to a public page …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    Having the tabs on the side would be really useful for those of us with widescreen monitors.

    I've long wondered why more apps don't have the ability to do this. MS's OneNote shows its page tabs at the side providing much more vertical space for the document.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Side tabs can be done

      Not sure what version/branch of Chrome you need, but try typing "about:flags" in the address field... if you've got the right version you can then enable "Side Tabs"

      1. frank ly
        Thumb Up

        @AC 20:37 re. side tabs

        On Chrome 9.0.597.98 under WinXP Pro, it does this. You have to close Chrome and restart it for the option to appear after enabling it in about:flags. Thanks for pointing this out :)

        (It'll take some getting used to, I can't handle UI changes.. waaaaaaah!)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Only one thing to say...


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        *FUCKING YAWN*

    3. Anonymous Coward

      re: Widescreen

      Don't tell me you have your browser maximized on the screen ...

      1. Oninoshiko

        Re: Re: Widescreen

        Dont tell me you have only one screen.

        Ofcourse, even maximized on one of my screens, I don't like the idea of vertical tabs.

    4. Matthew 3
      Dead Vulture

      RE: Widescreen

      And we also need a browser that can rearrange the content on a widescreen monitor so that a site redesign doesn't give you those bloody awful grey bars down each side of the page.

      <--------------- Like these ones --------------->

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nah thanks

    I'll stick to a browser that shows me the URL of the site I'm currently visiting at the top of the window or screen. I may be old fashioned but I prefer this simple and obvious way to ensure the site I believe I'm visiting is the actual site I'm visiting not someone elses copy. Am I missing something?

    1. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Up

      @Am I missing something?

      Nope, Google are.

      We're constantly warned to watch out for spoof/ scam/ phishing sites and the URL is one simple way of checking this. Without it we lose an important safety measure.

    2. Andy Christ

      I think that what the article says is that

      The URL is displayed until the page stops loading; after which it is only a visual distraction. There is a way to show/hide. This is what I like about Atomic Browser for iOS, pages default to full screen view once loaded but there are controls to show the address bar and tabs.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I would go even further in the opposite direction from Google, and add an address bar to every frame embedded in the page.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I agree.

      I like seeing the URL, I also like having a seperate serrch box as well.

    5. Ammaross Danan

      Hiding the URL

      The idea of hiding the URL is ludicrous at best. Sure, you get to see it (briefly) while the page is loading, but on a decent broadband, that's all of 2 seconds, if not faster. Seeing the URL is an important anti-phishing check. Even on Google's own search results, the "URL" (the bit of text below the description) says one thing, but pulls up something completely different (common for phishing/scareware sites). These pages load in less than a second in some cases too. They're made to look like part of your OS (like a window or popup), and having the "webpage" go to pseudo-full-screen would just exacerbate the issue. Not to mention phishing sites that send you to "" or somesuch. By the time they get half across the URL, the page is loaded and the URL would go away, and that's for us Keen-Eyed that actually glance at the during loads. Then there are the bait-n-switch URLs which start loading a page then quickly shuffle you off to some odd URL (even legitimately). I've caught many-a-website doing this, primarily for "referral" credit or somesuch, but the "store" I thought I was browsing ends up dumping me into a no-name marketplace.

      Leave the URL, even if it's as a status bar at the bottom of the screen. And leave it that way by default. People won't ever become security-aware if we keep abstracting stuff away from them as a default.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    This is as stupid as the iPhone email app, where it doesn't show the email address you're sending to. As a result, my boss sends work emails to my cellphone, where I don't get them because my cube has no coverage. Then he complains I don't get his emails.

    Can we stop with the shit that's misdesigned and nonfunctional because it looks pretty that way?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Nope

      Style over substance, I believe is the phrase.

      Mouth breathing idiots like it that way because they can still look awesome when using it but have less chance of being made to feel confused by seeing things they don't understand.

      Welcome to the future!

  4. Globe199


    Google, please find something for your developers to do. They are obviously bored, which is why they're now fucking around with standards. I expect this from Apple or Microsoft.

    Probably it's the same level of boredom that led Microsoft developers to do away with the "up" arrow button in Windows explorer that I still find maddening.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Oh yes

      >Probably it's the same level of boredom that led Microsoft developers to do away with the "up" arrow button in Windows explorer that I still find maddening

      Yeah that bugs me too. The other thing I can't quite get comfortable with is the thumbnails that the Taskbar pops up. For some reason they just look 'wrong' to me. I think the problem is that I expect to be able to interact meaningfully with them as if they were actually shrunken but fully functional.

      1. Glyn 2


        I use this

        It puts the up button back in and replaces the hateful start menu

  5. Ian Bradshaw
    Thumb Down


    Might be handy on Netbooks if anyone still uses them ... but I'd rather know what site I was on. A lot of title headings (that presumably would be in the tab) aren't great when shortened.

    Surely most people aren't that short of screen space nowerdays?

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Short of screen space...?

      Remember that this is aimed at Chromium OS, which is specifically aimed at small screens (ie netbooks and tablets, although Android has already cannibalised most of that market).

  6. Petrea Mitchell
    Thumb Down

    Something's missing here...

    I went and looked at the message and associated mockups to see if I could find the part where, discussing the pros and cons, someone says something about having tested the designs on actual users to get actual data to inform the choice about what should be done.

    I'll just go sulk in the corner with the other usability people, then...

  7. godheadatomic

    Nothing to see here

    Anyone else notice that everything referenced here is under "Chromium OS" -- there's little chance they'll make these changes to the Chrome browser itself.

    Changes like this make sense in the context of the Chromium OS sitting on a chromebook, on which vertical space comes at a premium.

  8. M Gale


    Why can't they copy the Android browser? It does more or less the same thing but you can get to the hidden address bar by scrolling up a bit.

  9. Senor Beavis

    OMG Ponies!!!

    That is all

  10. Martin 71 Silver badge

    They STILL have no menu bar!


    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      What's on the menu bar?

      I've never needed anything on there. I suppose some people might miss \File\Open.. ?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Next up ...

    Google's thought-controlled browser interface with no controls whatsoever. Y'know ... to go with the keyboards with no keys, yeah?

    Stupid, stupid, stupid ...

  12. Wallyb132

    Their internal slogan only says "Dont be Evil"

    Their internal slogan only says "Dont be Evil", Which is a very limited set of guidelines, given the type of people whom are generally attracted / employable in these types of positions.

    They need to expand on this a little, maybe make it a template with multiple possibilities.

    Dont be .....?




    and of course


  13. corrodedmonkee


    This some malware orientated holiday I don't know about?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Fisher-Price Exploder Rides Again

    Have Google learned nothing from the Windows Explorer debacles?

  15. Greg J Preece


    I could be a dick and point out that you can already enable this kind of behaviour in Firefox with one of a number of add-ons, but I would rather ask why the hell you would want this kind of behaviour in the first place. Hiding the URL bar for inexperienced users is just begging for a phishing attack.

  16. Rattus Rattus

    What's the idea behind putting anything next to the tabs?

    I already have my tabs extending off both the left and right sides of the screen, usually thirty or more per window. There's no room for anything next to them. Sometimes I wish I had two rows of tabs so I could more easily see just how many pages I have open.

    1. Piro Silver badge

      Tab Mix Plus for Firefox.

      Display > Tab Bar

      "When Tabs don't fit width..."


      I couldn't live without it. I hate my tabs becoming narrower and narrower.

      1. Wallyb132

        I agree...

        Multi-row is the only way to go, but i had to limit it to just 2 rows, otherwise the rows would start to eat up my precious screen space, so i have 2 rows visible and the rest scroll up and down...

  17. FordPrefect

    Its just a test seriously...

    ... you would think it was the end of the world :P Its good that people mix it up sometimes to see if things can be improved, and if this is a choice of view then in some circumstances it might work. For general day to day use I'll keep the address bar where it is like I suspect 90+% of people will too.

    As for side tabs they can work so long as its only a small fixed tab name but I really wouldnt want tabs taking over the second half of the screen I use that for another browser window, IM, email etc.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Side tabs.

      Side tabs don't need to be written left-to-right. If you look at any old-school organiser or dividers for ring binders, the convention is to write vertically. And by that I mean write as if the screen was 90 degrees round. It's not as quick to read as conventional left-to-right (assuming you are a left-to-right language user, that is!) but as it's just the tabs, that doesn't matter as you aren't going to need to read them very often or for very long.

  18. Monkeywrench

    Designers gone wild

    It's getting so it's like an Easter egg hunt trying to find the things that used to be in plain sight. I think Microsoft started things off when they came out with Office 2007 and hid everything behind that big button. Now the browsers are following suit. Enough already!

  19. AndrueC Silver badge

    My preference

    ..would be to keep the current system of combined search and address bar but have it only appear when I want it. Mostly I use the Alt+D short cut combination but having it appear if/when my mouse pointer moves up toward the tabs would be good enough. Back/forward I can happily live without because my wonderful Logitech MX700 mouse has those built in.

    In fact here's an idea. Leave everything where it is by default but have the address bar replaced with a dotted outline or grey area and allow the underlying page to show through. It becomes solid if you click on it. There's obviously a slight risk if confusion if what's underneath is a URL but that shouldn't be a major problem.

  20. Jon 52


    press f11 fullscreen and bar hides if mouse is not near top or page is not laoding

    Press f11 normal service is resumed

    on my netobook use it all the time as the screen is not quite full height.

    never seen the need for it on desktop

    (i hope websties now won't use this as an excuse to be even more fullscreen, i already NEED F11 on some websties that wern't bothered to test on anything other than 1280x1024)

    1. ThomH

      Good, except that

      Some pages just stretch to the width of the screen rather than having a fixed width column of text, putting you in a very uncomfortable reading position. That's one of the reasons that standard paper sizes remain tall and thin and the main reason that newspapers use columns.

  21. BOBSta

    Stop messing around and get rid of...

    that bl00dy annoying download bar that is impossible to turn off, move, resize or auto-hide. At least give us the preference to be able to do with it as we like?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down


      You mean the download bar at the bottom? The one with the 'X' on the right hand side?

  22. Steve Graham
    Big Brother

    Call me paranoid...

    ...but I have begun to suspect that Google would like to do away with actual web addresses entirely. After all, if you paste in the URL, or type it, then you aren't using a search engine to find the site, and that costs Google money.

    This conspiracy theory also explains why the Chrome browser handles bookmarks so badly (fixed button at the top right, so folders cascade backwards). Bookmarks also get you to a site without Google's help.

  23. Dan 55 Silver badge

    I'm going to have a go at taking browser UIs to the next generation too...

    1. Instanciate a borderless window.

    2. Instanciate a HTML control inside said borderless window.

    3. ???

    4. Fail.

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