If you’ve been a Chrome user on any platform for any amount of time, you know how quickly those Chrome Extensions can start to add up in the space to the right of your URL bar, slowly but surely encroaching on your URL bar’s horizontal real estate. Sure, you can hide those extensions pretty easily, but for all the ones you need to click to interact with, that’s not really an optimal workaround.
Spotted by Techdows, a new way to wrangle your Chrome Extensions looks to be on the way at least by Chrome 75 or perhaps sooner. The feature is behind a flag for the time being, but is available to test on both Developer and Canary channels of Chrome 75 and is available to Mac OS, Windows and Chrome OS at the moment. Just go to chrome://flags and search for “Extensions Toolbar” and you can enable it if you are on Chrome 75 in the Developer or Canary channels.
The way it works is quite simple: for each extension showing next to your URL bar, you can now right-click, select “Hide in Chrome menu”, and see the full list of extensions in a drop-down menu versus the lateral layout we’re all used to. I tend to hide Extensions that I don’t have to click on to use like the fantastic Simplify Gmail extension, but there are quite a few I need to interact with for them to be useful. Hiding these extensions from the menu makes real interaction nearly impossible, so I have to leave them up there.
Sure, there’s been a feature many don’t ever use that allows you to drag the URL bar and hide those extensions, but dragging it around every time you need something feels clunky. The change that is happening with the extensions menu will help clean all this up. Simply hide the extensions (I have all mine hidden, now) and they are replaced with a little puzzle piece icon that opens your brand new Chrome Extensions menu.
As you can see, in Developer Channel, the icons for the extensions and the 3-dot menus for each extension are missing, but you get the idea. In the Canary Channel, you get the extension’s favicon and a 3-dot menu with the same options you see currently by right-clicking an extension from beside the URL bar. Probably the most useful option will be the one that re-pins a removed extension back to the top menu beside the URL bar.
Clearly, this still needs a bit of work to get to final stages, but I really like the idea of nesting all my extensions in one place for easy access while decluttering my URL bar. With extensions being a pretty standard way that many of us leverage Chrome on a daily basis, the option to have them hidden away while still easily accessible is a very attractive UI change that I think will be a welcome addition for most users. Right now, this feature is on Chrome 75, so we’d expect to see it trickle down to Stable Channel in the coming weeks as Chrome 75 is due out in early June 2019.