How to Bring Back the Old Chrome


Change isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some of us like things the way they are, dammit: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Unfortunately, staying still doesn’t get you very far in most aspects of life, at least not with technology. Companies are always looking for new ways to move their products forward—or, at the very least, keep them up-to-date with the latest trends.

So it is with Chrome: Google rolled out a new design language for its wildly popular web browser, adopting the Material You UI seen on Google’s other software products like Android. Material You adopts the UI’s color scheme to images in the background to create a more cohesive look. In addition, buttons and menus are more rounded, since everything needs to be round these days.

The new Chrome isn’t for everyone

I actually like the changes (although I’m a Safari guy when I can help it). However, if you hate the new Chrome, you aren’t alone. Tom’s Hardware’s Avram Piltch despises it. Piltch detests the way menus float above the UI, how folder icons and the extensions menu appear, and, worst of all, how the tabs menu is now on the left side of the display rather than the right. (Those of us on macOS seemed to have been spared this last change, as Google didn’t seem keen to squish the tabs menu in with the left-justified window management buttons.)

Anyone who shares in Piltch’s sentiments is in luck, however: Unlike many tech companies that force design changes on users without an option to go back, there’s actually an easy way to flip the switch and bring back the old Chrome—at least, for now.

How to bring back the old Chrome

To start, copy and paste the following into the URL field in Chrome, then follow the link: chrome://flags/#chrome-refresh-2023. This feature flag—an experimental feature tucked away in Chrome—controls whether or not Chrome loads with the new redesign. If you haven’t tinkered with it before, it’s likely set to Default, which, obviously, enables the redesign.

Click Default, then change the option to Disabled. Finally, hit the Relaunched button that appears in the bottom right to refresh Chrome with your changes.

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