Google Continues to Evolve Look and Feel of Chrome

Posted on July 23, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Windows 10 with 20 Comments

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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Comments (20)

20 responses to “Google Continues to Evolve Look and Feel of Chrome”

  1. skane2600

    It's like one of those find the differences in the picture activities in the old Highlights magazine for kids. I don't know why companies focus on such minutia while major issues are ignored.

  2. Jorge Garcia

    If you haven't already, install the "Disconnect" untracking, un-bloating, Chrome extension, folks, you will thank me later. I thank Mike Elgan on TWiT for the heads up. Noticeable speed bump. But don't spread the word too Google probably HATES this extension and others like it.

  3. Lukasmeier

    Honestly I had the all white single tab layout always since the new design.

    But lately with version 70 I got the colored version for single tab too.

    Dont know by which flag or setting this is influenced. Only my experience.

  4. michael_babiuk

    As a consumer, my primary computer ecosystem is Apple centric. (Yes, I have and currently use other operation systems - the latest version of Windows 10 (in a virtual machine), Linux (not recently) but I have never used a Chrome OS (except in a very early build of Chromium run in a virtual machine)

    My preferred bias prompts me to confess that I feel macOS is the best desktop OS for productivity and that this new Chrome OS build pictured in the article borrows much from the current form of macOS. (The bottom dock and the top menu bar layout leaving the full desktop uncluttered for multiple apps.

    I much prefer that type of desktop layout instead of the Windows dual desktop appearance. Windows 10's live tiles supply the user with lots of information but sometimes lots of information to digest is too much information. Sometimes it's a distraction impacting productivity. (Just my opinion - I prefer a minimal desktop appearance when I sit down to actually "do something" rather than browsing multiple sources of online information.

    So yes, I like the way Chrome OS has evolved it's look and feel.

  5. dontbe evil

    looks much more like Edge

  6. Waethorn

    You can see some of the unified UI conventions that are also gracing Chromebooks at play here.

  7. Stooks

    Firefox FTW! Seriously the new version of Firefox is as good/better (IMHO) and with NONE of the privacy issues.

  8. Stooks

    ABP....Make sure to white list this site :)

  9. jimchamplin

    How about dark mode support? Anything?

  10. anchovylover

    Is that Adblock Plus I see turned on Paul? Naughty, naughty given the adblock message non members are subjected too. ??

  11. glassman1234

    While I do like the chrome mimicking the colors of the windows theme (Firefox has done this as well in their current beta releases), the single-tab mode is in a word - ugly. It's the very definition of the "white-heavy designs of the past". Firefox has a more minimalistic look as the chrome isn't quite as tall. Although Chrome's use of the windows color themes makes it appear shorter than when it was white on white.

  12. FalseAgent

    "it looks better than the white-heavy designs of the past"

    you have got to be kidding me. This looks much more white-heavy than anything else before.

    But I'm really glad that they got rid of the username being at the top of the window, that change alone makes this look so much better.