While a new stable version of Google Chrome is now available for download, there’s so much more to discover in the testing builds of the browser as well, and the latest Canary release is living proof in this regard.
Google Chrome Canary version 81.0.3992.0 comes with a new flag that allows users to enable the so-called WebUI tab strip, which expands the tab bar to a new UI that includes page previews along with features such as drag and drop for tab management.
Tab strips aren’t necessarily new to browsers, and some Google Chrome alternatives have been offering such capabilities for many months already.
But at this point, Google apparently needs more time to further polish the feature before bringing it to production devices, which means that it’s not ready for prime time just yet.
However, thanks to the Canary version of Google Chrome, we can actually get a taste of what’s to come in terms of tab improvements in the browser, and this tab strip appears to be at the top of the list.
First and foremost, it’s important to know that this feature isn’t yet a finalized idea, so it doesn’t necessarily work exactly as expected. But by following the instructions below, you can easily enable it in the browser to give it a try before getting the go-ahead for the stable channel.
The first thing you need to do is update Google Chrome Canary to the latest release. As I said, the build bringing this new capability is 81.0.3992.0, so make sure that you are running at least this version or a newer one.
Next, launch Google Chrome Canary and in the address bar, type the following command:
There are three different flags that you need to enable in order to activate the WebUI tab strip:
WebUI tab strips
WebUI tab strip demo options
Touch UI Layout
All of them are configured to “default,” which in the current version of Google Chrome Canary means they are disabled. So click the drop-down menu and switch them to Enabled. Reboot the browser and the features should then be activated.
As noticed by reddit user Leopeva-2, who has an excellent track on finding unreleased browser features, certain features aren’t necessarily working correctly. For example, scrolling horizontally with the mouse wheel doesn’t seem to work for the time being, albeit this is something that’s likely to be added in a future update. Then, the drag and drop feature that allows you to move tabs from one position to another appears to be a little inconsistent, as it sometimes works correctly, while others tabs are sent back to their original position.
There are no other configuration options available for the time being, other than an “auto-close” button that automatically closes the tab strip when clicking in a page. Right-clicking a tab launches the same context menu as it does when right-clicking a standard tab in Google Chrome today.
Without a doubt, Google will continue to further polish the WebUI tab strip in Google Chrome, but for the time…