Given our obsession with everything thin, its just mind-boggling how we have been tolerating that Address bar at the top of the browser window. Google thought similar and has now given you a way to get rid of that plump address bar from the browser with a feature dubbed “Compact Navigation”. Its pretty straight forward if you are running the Canary channel of Chrome which has now updated to Chrome 13. Keep reading past the break to get that extra leg room.
I actually liked the feature, the address bar just sits at the top most of the time without any use. So its quite practical if you use bookmarks to navigate most of the websites. Fear not , the address bar is not actually gone, it comes right up if you click on a tab. Its a miniature version of the address bar in floating mode and disappears if you don’t have any use for it. It also comes up automatically when you open a new tab. I just have a few issues with “Compact Navigation” including the fact that when I click on the tab the address box is not focused and one more click is required to start typing in the address bar which is a misstep as the primary use of the address bar is to type in a URL and it does not fare well there’s a pop-up as they need a fixed address bar.
If you are running the Canary channel of Google Chrome for Windows (this feature is only available for the Windows build at the moment), then:
- Open a new tab page.
- Type “about:flags” without quotes in the address bar and hit the enter key.
- Scroll down to “Compact Navigation“.
- Click “Enable” and then click on “Relaunch Now” at the bottom of the page(Note: This will restart the browser, if you have any incognito windows open this will not bring them back.).
- Once the browser is up and running again, right click on any tab and select “Hide the Toolbar“.
That’s it now you can enjoy a address bar free experience. You also get new Forward and Back buttons and the wrench is moved to the top of the browser window near the minimize button. For people who are not using the canary channel you can download it from here. But be warned this is a nightly build and not that stable as it has not been tested as much as the beta or stable versions.
Google Chrome gave us the Omnibox(same address box for searching and URLs), separate processes for each tab, pinnable tabs and much more, and now we have the floating address bar. Think this is something that will catch on ?
Its a good feature especially for notebooks with small screens which would benefit from that extra screen space. It makes the experience even more de-cluttered and minimalist. Microsoft did something similar by combining the tab bar with the address bar in Internet Explorer 9 and Mozilla combined Firefox 4’s menu into a single button. It seems the browser wars will now focus on who can make the minimalist browser with most features.