How To Enable Tab Scrolling In Chrome Canary

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Users in Chrome and Chrome OS may soon be able to take advantage of a feature meant to eliminate issues often noted by those who frequently open several dozen tabs at once. In its current iteration, opening more than a set number of tabs generates issues on desktop variants of Chrome. That's because the space taken up by the UI becomes more reduced as further pages are open until the tabs are no longer distinguishable.

Eventually, even the new tab icon goes into hiding, making it impossible to open any new tabs. A user could simply open a new tab but a new flag in the Canary Channel of the browser and OS, spotted by TechDows, will change that requirement. The newly added flag for 'activating' the feature hints that enabling it allows tabs to be scrolled through. Presumably, that means users will no longer be forced to push through a featureless UI since the tabs could be kept at full scale.

Turning the feature 'on'

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For now, enabling the flag for scrollable tabs doesn't actually accomplish anything but — as seen with previous flags added to the Canary Channel — it shouldn't take too long for that to change. While other developer-friendly Chrome and Chrome OS Channels are updated on an approximately weekly basis, the Canary Channel is more accurately described as a nightly build for the browser and OS.

Summarily, that means updates are applied with some consistency on an almost daily basis and that new implementations are added as they appear in the Chromium code. So the update to incorporate the first iteration of scrolling will likely appear soon enough for those who have the flag enabled, making Chrome much more useful for users who tend to keep a lot of tabs open.

Turning the feature 'on' is a straightforward process, for those who aren't bothered by using the sometimes buggy Canary Channel. On desktop systems, users simply need to start by downloading the Canary version of Chrome directly from Google. On Chrome OS extra hoops must be jumped through, involving turning on developer mode and then wiping their system so it isn't recommended for those users just yet.

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After opening that version of the browser, users need to navigate to the "chrome://flags" page via the browser's Omnibox URL bar. That page houses experimental features but those can result in errors and bugs if implemented haphazardly. Using the search bar at the top and entering the term "scrollable-tabstrip" should pull up the desired setting.

A drop-down menu is present next to the setting, described as allowing "users to access tabs by scrolling when they no longer fit in the tabstrip." That needs to be changed from "Default" to "Enabled" and then the browser will need to be rebooted either manually or via the button that appears along the bottom of Chrome's UI.

Opening things up for true power users

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Mobile users don't face the same dilemma this change is meant to solve since the tabs are confined to cards on a vertically-scrolled carousel but this change does appear to be linked to another change that's on the way for smartphone Chrome too. Namely, recent commits and flag settings have pointed to the addition of tab grouping across the board.

Used simultaneously, assuming the grouping feature arrives for desktop, the implementations could enable users to open and organize hundreds of tabs without headaches.

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Junior Editor

Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]

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