Google Chrome is experimenting with tab widths in new tab scrolling feature
Chrome is reportedly making your habit of opening dozens and dozens of tabs a little easier to manage. Chromium developers are allegedly experimenting with different widths of tabs when the tab scrolling feature (also in testing) is turned on.
There are two parts to Google’s testing. In Chrome 88, users can enable tab scrolling via a flag. This feature makes it so your tab bar doesn’t look so squished together when you have multiple tabs open at once. Firefox and Safari have similar features, so it’s nice to see Chrome following suit.
Tab scrolling with tabs shrunk to a large width. Image: Reddit user Leopeva64-2
The tab scrolling feature can be turned on via chrome://flags. In addition to swiping through the tab bar with a scroll wheel or trackpad, you can also turn on left and right buttons to scroll through your open tabs. It’s just a matter of using what works best for you.
In addition to scrollable tabs, Google is also testing different widths in Chrome Canary 90. With tab scrolling enabled, there are options to shrink tabs to pinned tab width, medium width, large width, or no shrinking at all. When tabs shrink down, it’s virtually impossible to distinguish between them other than small website icons, so having different options is very helpful.
At this point, it’s unclear which option Google will go with, but it’s nice to see new features being tested. Personally, I think the large width option strikes the best balance of information density and readability. When you’re able to scroll through your open tabs, you don’t really need them to shrink down for any reason. Who knows, maybe Google will provide users with multiple options when the feature becomes available in a stable build.
Google previously introduced tab groups and tab search, but those options still aren’t the best solution for people who regularly have 50+ tabs open at once. These new tab features are currently in testing, so there’s no telling when they’ll be available, but hopefully, they’ll launch soon because they could provide a significant boost to productivity.