Reading webpages, like the one you’re on right now, is a relaxing and informative activity for the vast majority of internet users, but conditions like ADHD and the urge to click away to other articles gets in the way of finishing what you are reading. Most of our favorite web browsers have a reading mode built in for a distraction-free experience, and Chrome is no exception. Now, we have word the feature’s user interface is in for a minor redesign on desktop.
Old reader mode UI on Chrome
Browsers like Firefox and Apple’s Safari have had a Reader Mode for years now, but Chrome has enabled and disabled it frequently. The latest version available today was introduced with Chrome 114. Reading mode on Chrome is nestled in the sidebar that hosts other experiences like Search Journeys, and it should be enabled by default. However, if that’s not the case, you can try pasting the following flag addresses in the Chrome address bar and setting both of them to Enabled, forcing the feature live for you.
When you pull up Reading mode on Chrome for desktop, you’ll find a neat settings strip above the text window, giving options to change the typeface, increase or decrease the font size, apply themes (to the sidebar), and modify the line height and letter spacing. This strip gives you ready access to all the controls you may need while reading. However, reputable Chrome feature spotter @Leopeva64 on Twitter says the strip is gone in Chrome Canary (v116), replaced by a single gear icon.
The new UI undergoing testing in Chrome Canary
As demonstrated above, clicking the gear icon reveals a drop-down menu with nested sub-menus for all the options, which were neatly incorporated in the settings strip of the old UI. The new UI doesn’t seem like a step in the right direction because it now takes at least one additional click to access any setting you want. Moreover, exiting the menu or going back to the parent menu is quite a chore.
However, this is a change in Chrome Canary and Google could have greater plans for the tight space in the sidebar. We wouldn’t mind the new UI if other additions to the space are afoot, but in its current form, we are hoping it doesn’t make the cut to Chrome 117 stable. While Google is at it, perhaps there’s a better place to house Reading mode than a cramped sidebar?