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Throwback Thursday: Chrome Browser Brings Back Side Tabs

Image credit: Antyweb

A long time ago, in an internet world all but forgotten, having your browser tabs aligned vertically along the side of the screen was a thing. Okay, so it wasn’t that long ago and for many, having your tabs on the side of your browser is still your daily workflow.

For Chrome users specifically, the side tabs were always an experimental project and that layout went away back in 2011. For those who favor the extra pixels at the top of the browser, there are a handful of extensions in the Chrome Store that will give you the satisfaction of tabs to the side.

Much to my surprise, it appears that enough people are beckoning for vertical tabs that developers have taken notice and begun work on bringing them back to the Chrome browser.

The initial commit, spotted by Chrome Story, was added to the repository yesterday evening and reads as follows:

Add side tabs layout.

This cl implements the side tabs layout.
Major changes:
1. Allow choosing tab alignment upon init.
2. Support MD for vertical tab alignment.
3. Draw border for vertical tab alignment.

From the verbiage, it looks like users will be able to choose the side tab layout at launch and we will be looking at a newer, Material Design UI. The bug report attached to the commit contains images of the new layout. Unfortunately, it is marked private so we are unable to get ahold of those, for now.

This feature looks to be added to the Chromium source and is being tested on Linux. That’s a good sign that we will see it released for Chromebooks, Windows and Mac if developers decide to keep it around.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the side tabs mainly because it doesn’t mesh with my workflow but for many users, it may be exactly what they’re looking for to customize their Chrome UI. I’ll be keeping an eye out for this to go live in the Canary channel and will share images and updates as they arrive.


Are you a fan of side tabs? What are the advantages? Sound off if you’re excited about this new, old feature.

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Source: Chromium Project via Chrome Story

Gabriel Brangers

Lover of all things coffee. Foodie for life. Passionate drummer, hobby guitar player, Web designer and proud Army Veteran. I have come to drink coffee and tell the world of all things Chrome. "Whatever you do, Carpe the heck out of that Diem" - Roman poet, Horace. Slightly paraphrased.

View Comments

  • With modern screens being wider, this might be a good way to use that extra real estate and allow full use of the vertical space. If it comes around I will check it out.

  • While I tend to open my major apps in ChromeOS in a window and use the shortcuts on the shelf to switch applications, I might try moving tabs to the vertical orientation and run apps in a standard browser window instead. Might be interesting, though on my SCBPro there is not as much width to play with as on other Chromebooks.

  • It'll be great if they do it - On my Windows machine I've been running my desktop for years with the bar from the bottom of the screen laid out vertically down the right hand side instead. I find it works very well for me and I much prefer to have it that way. Being able to lay Chrome out that way would suit me fine.

  • If you're someone who normally keeps a lot of tabs open--enough to fill the top to bottom space (scroll-able & searchable), then tabs on the side make sense. Back when I used Firefox, one of my regular configs for awhile was bookmarks on the left and tabs on the right. However, I was never one much for keeping a lot of tabs open, so I didn't use that config a lot. Bookmarks on the left, though, I sorely miss with Chrome. Given the typical wide-screens with low-res that we use on chromebooks, a bookmarks bar on the left would be welcome.

  • I'm in agreement with what the 5 fellows who posted below mine said. So long as I can go back to what we have now if I don't like it.

  • Side tabs are part of the Vivaldi browser, which is based on Chrome. I tried recently, trying to reclaim some of the wide-screen real estate, but I couldn't adjust to expecting the tabs to be on the side. I'll be curious how the Chrome take on them differs.

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