Chrome is in a perpetual interface test. Every few weeks, we discover a new flag that turns things around like putting the URL bar at the bottom or eschewing the large tab cards for a smaller grid tab switcher. Google seems ready to settle on the latter as the latest Chrome Dev and Canary use this as the default layout but with a busier look that mashes elements from the new tab page into the tab switcher, with lots of icons, bars, and toggles.

This new tab switcher is a big departure from existing ones. The currently open tabs are moved down a few rows. A Google logo goes on top of the page with an incognito toggle right next to it. Below that is a search bar with a microphone, then you'll find the shortcuts to the sites you frequently visit.

Opening a new tab doesn't result in a new interface: You still get the same logo, search bar, and site shortcuts, with articles below those. So this new switcher may be handy but it's quite redundant.

 

Left: Old grid tab switcher. Middle: New tab switcher. Right: New with Duet.

I couldn't find any specific flag to trigger this UI. It seems to be the default when you reset all flags in Chrome Dev or Canary to default and restart the browser. I also tried a fresh install of these Chrome releases and got the horizontal tab switcher with the large cards, but when I enabled the grid layout (chrome://flags/#enable-tab-grid-layout) I got the new layout. Switching that flag to default and restarting Chrome (twice to be sure) didn't revert it. So I don't know what exactly triggers it, but it's there.

The new switcher works with both regular Chrome UI and Chrome Duet (bottom nav). If you want to give it a try, grab the Dev or Canary release of the browser and see if you get it by default. If not, you may need to turn on the grid flag.

Chrome Dev
Chrome Dev
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

Chrome Canary (Unstable)
Chrome Canary (Unstable)
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free
  • Thanks:
  • Louis Bohn