[Update: March 02] Want to disable Tab Groups/grid-view in Google Chrome on Android? Here’s how to do so
The following video summarizes this article:
New updates are being added at the bottom of this story…
Original story (published on January 29, 2021) follows:
There appears to be a recent server-side update on Google Chrome browser for Android following which the tab-view has been completely altered for many.
Previously, tabs used to appear in a vertical cascading list of cards that spanned the entire length of the screen. This view only allowed previewing one site at a time.
But after the update, tabs now appear in a grid layout allowing several opened sites to be previewed at once without getting obscured.
This change also opens up an avenue for Tab Groups support – something that wasn’t possible earlier. Tab Groups facilitate smoother work-flow as tabs can now be organized into neat little assortments.
This is especially useful for power users that keep dozens of tabs open at once. With the change, it will be much easier to find them if there is a large number open at once.
However, there are a couple of downsides to the update too. One-handed usage has become a tad more difficult as tabs are now placed at the top of the screen rather than being aligned to the center. Also, there are many that simply do not like how the grid layout looks.
And while it’s debatable if the changes are for the better or worse, it’s quite clear that most have already made up their minds.
There have been plenty of complaints from angry users asking for the update to be rolled back. Many are also asking for a way to disable the tab groups and grid layout on Chrome.
This is an annoying feature. And it doesn’t even ask if user want to enable it. Chrome devs become worse day by day. It causes many problem for my company when using our web apps with chrome, such as showing update popup randomly, breaks old features, and now this.
If you are one of such users, then there indeed is a way to change the tab view in Chrome for Android back to its previous state. And it involves Chrome Flags.
How to turn off grid-view/tab groups on Chrome for Android
Chrome Flags are experimental features that aren’t yet enabled by default but can be with just a few clicks. They’re simple to use and can transform your browsing experience.
Similarly, there is a switch for the new tab grid-view as well under the list of available flags. To access it, you need to enter chrome://flags into the Chrome address bar.
You will then be directed to the flags page. Next, enter the words “tab grid” in the search bar following which you should see the desired flag show up just like in the below image.
Simply select it and change its value from ‘Default’ to ‘Disabled’. After this, restart Chrome a couple of times to see the grid layout revert to the good old vertical card view once again.
Furthermore, if you also want to disable tab groups on Chrome, just to be sure, then the #enable-tab-groups flag should help you with that.
Update 1 (February 04)
12:27 pm (IST): As per a Product Expert on the Google forums, it now seems that the option to disable group tabs via Chrome Flags has stopped working.
Seems like this flag was removed and this new feature is now by default, without an option to disable it.
While we were unable to verify this, it could be possible that it actually is a server-side change and has been put into effect for select users only. If true, it’s highly disappointing.
Update 2 (February 20)
11:12 am (IST): As per several Redditors, the grid layout/tab groups UI appears to now have been rolled back on Chrome. A great relief indeed, but there is still no telling if Google might bring it back.
After all, it could be quite possible that the rollback was initiated due to unmentioned bugs. Anyway, for now, it is advisable to find any Chrome flags that include the word ‘group’ and disable them.
Update 3 (February 22)
11:12 am (IST): Contrary to recent reports that Google had rolled back the grid for Tab Groups layout, 9to5Google says the feature is actually rolling out widely.
03:44 pm (IST): As for those uninterested in the new feature, there is room to disable it via the Chrome flags settings, again, contrary to recent reports that the flag had been completely removed from Chrome.
Update 4 (February 23)
12:51 pm (IST): We have tested the workaround to disable the grid view at our end and can confirm that it works. We are sharing the step-by-step screenshots below.
Update 5 (February 24)
For those of you who are interested in keeping the grid-view intact but wish to disable grouping, here’s a user-shared workaround for you.
In the Chrome address bar type “chrome://flags,” and you’ll be redirected to the Experiments page. Over there, in the search box, type “Tab.” Following the Tab Grid Layout, you’ll see three Tab group flags namely ‘Tab groups’, ‘Tab groups continuation,’ and ‘Tab groups UI improvements.’
Set all three of them to ‘Disabled,’ and then relaunch a couple of times for the grouping to be disabled while keeping the grid-view as it is.
We’ve tested the workaround at our end and can ensure that it works.
Update 6 (March 02)
We’ve come across user queries regarding naming/renaming tab groups on Android, just as can be done on Chrome’s desktop version. But going by the reports, the ability to rename and assign specific colours to tab groups is yet to be added to Android.
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