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Google Will Make Re-Opening Accidentally Closed Chrome Tabs Instant

Chrome Navigation DG AH 2021
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Google is now working on a way to make reloading Chrome Tabs that have been accidentally closed on desktop platforms instant. Or as close to instantaneous as is possible. That’s based on the discovery of three new commits in the Chromium Gerrit, found by Android Police.

Of course, Android already has a similar feature, albeit a less efficient one. And Chrome already utilizes a back-forward cache to reload pages instantly, using the back and forward buttons. But the latter is more similar to what Google is working on now. With the change in place, the commits indicate, closed tabs will be left intact in memory. And they’ll stay in memory for 15 seconds, just in case the user didn’t mean to close them.

If the user restores the tab or tabs within that period, Chrome will reload them as though they’d never been closed at all. Saving users the hassle of waiting if they close a tab by mistake.

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Why does this matter?

Now, Google has already been putting in a lot of work to make closing and reopening tabs easier. In particular, as that applies to accidentally closed tabs and tab groups. And it’s been jumping through hoops to make those features easier to find as well.

The latest change in that saga is, however, a bit different in that this will be a background change. So users won’t need to do much to take advantage of it and won’t need to learn new browsing habits. As is the case with the abovementioned reading list and bookmarks changes, which will ultimately affect how users access closed tabs.

Instead, as long as users re-open Chrome tabs immediately after closing them, they’ll reload in an instant. Pulled directly from cache with no further interaction from users.

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When will you see Chrome Tabs with instant reloading?

As of this writing, the new feature is not quite ready for primetime. It hasn’t even appeared as a Canary flag just yet, in fact. The flag that’s been added for testing purposes internally. So there’s no clear indication as to when end-users will see the improvement.

New development on features as far out as Chrome 93 has already frozen, as of June 17 and the ‘feature freeze’ for Chrome 94 is July 29. So Chrome 94 appears to be, for now, the earliest this feature could arrive. Although Google could always add it in earlier if it chooses to. That version of Chrome is slated for desktop platforms in late September — or early October for Chromebooks.