Have you checked out Chrome’s Material Design makeover yet? Here’s how to do it

by: Kris CarlonFebruary 1, 2016

Chrome browser teaser 1

Chrome is one of the shining lights of Google’s app suite – being the preferred browser for around half of all web users for its minimal interface and fast loading speeds – but that doesn’t mean it was first in line for a Material Design makeover. In fact, Chrome is one of the last Google apps to get a refresh, but its time has finally come.

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There are quite a few changes being made to Chrome at the moment, but, as you may have guessed, with a browser this minimal there’s not all that much to change. The main changes so far include angular corners on tabs, an address bar redesign, new settings and download pages and new icons, bookmark bar and overflow menu. There’s also a new all-black Incognito interface and Chrome OS has a minimal new media player.

Chrome new address bar

If you want to preview the changes for yourself, you can do so on a PC or in Chrome OS but they don’t work in OSX environments yet. Not all of the changes are viewable yet either, but they can still be found in Chrome’s issue tracker. All you need to do is change a few Chrome flags to enable Material Design features.

For example, if you want to get the new address bar, bookmark layout, overflow menu and navigation icons, just open Chrome and type in chrome://flags and use Ctrl+F to find all instances of Material Design. The one for these particular changes is called Enable Material Design in the browser’s top Chrome. Change the drop-down to Material and restart your browser.

Enable Material Design address bar

If you want to check out the “more exciting” redesigned areas like Settings, it’s an even easier preview because it has already been incorporated into the stable release. Just open up a new tab and type in chrome://md-settings to see the new Material Design layout.

The new Downloads page isn’t in the stable channel yet, so you’ll have to switch the flag for that manually too. Go to chrome://flags and find the entry called Enable Material Design downloads, change the drop-down box to Enabled and restart your browser.

Chrome Material Design downloads

Most of the other changes like the Extensions page or black-themed Incognito page can be seen only in the issue tracker for now. The new Chrome OS media player is currently live and there are a whole bunch of other pages in the issue tracker that are being redesigned, so it shouldn’t be long until we see those roll out to the stable channel and eventually into the Android version.

For some reason I was unable to see the squared off corners on tabs and there are apparently new animations when buttons are clicked that I couldn’t see either. Feel free to enable the flags yourself let me know if you find anything else in the comments below.

Chrome Material Design settings

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What do you think of the new-look Chrome browser? Any other Material Design changes you could suggest?

  • I like it and I’m excited to experience the official released.

  • likurges

    that’s ugly, just a waste of space

    • EasyCare

      It helps things look visually simple actually. Sometimes you do need space to make things look clear and neat.

  • Roby

    Honestly, not much to get excited about…

  • Grahaman27

    still WIP- the URL text is sloppy and too small, and all the buttons are too big. Plus, it just doesn’t have any polish.

    • Jack Buehner

      If you chrome Material Hybrid instead of Material, the text is back to the normal size.

  • The_Smiao

    This still doesn’t work on mac yet, the flag is absent.

    • Brian Jones

      “….you can do so on a PC or in Chrome OS but they don’t work in OSX environments yet”

  • Alicemad

    Just nothing to get excited about. Chrome is still ugly with all those material touches. It needs a complete overhaul. The bookmark management is non existent and ugly as hell. That bookmark bar reminds me the old days of the Yahoo toolbars in IE. I use Chrome only because it’s faster and more stable than others but Firefox on Windows 10 is better designed and you can actually customise it. Google needs to rework their UK and US on Chrome

    • Jack Buehner

      When you enable the material design flag, the bookmarks bar gains better looking updated icons.

  • Chris

    Chrome or nothing

  • ADofCLE

    Would be more relevant if it dealt with the Android app, and not the desktop browser.

  • aditya sharma

    names of plugins in chrome (above screenshot) .anyone ??

  • Arben Myrtaj

    until they fix the fucking tabs resizing to 1/50th, if not worse, of the screen, chrome will always be a piece of crap of a browser.

  • abqnm

    The new style angular tabs are included in beta, which is on version 49. There is no flag or anything for this. When 49 hits stable in 5 or so weeks, that’s likely when you will see the new tab design come to stable.

  • Chris Menon

    sadly not on chrome os yet

  • Materialized

    There is already an open-source cross-platfrom material-designed web browser called Liri Browser.

    • Daniel James


    • Jack Buehner

      Liri Browser has so much potential, but there are still not enough features to make it as useful as Chrome.