Google Chrome Experiment Displays Only the Domain in the URL Bar

I’m generally pretty happy with Chrome … but this definitely sounds like a step in the wrong direction.

Simplification seems to be an ongoing trend, not only when it comes to web browsers but I notice it the most here. With Mozilla releasing Firefox Australis and seemingly not finished yet with the removal of features, and Google launching a minimalistic browser from the very start, it seems that the days of users deciding how they want to use a browser will come to an end eventually. I may be painting a too dark picture here but find the direction that these companies are heading towards quite frightening.

One recent experiment of the Chrome browser does away with urls in the address bar. The browser only displays the domain of the website you are on but not its full address unless you specifically click or interact with the address bar first.

If you visit reddit.com/r/chrome for example, only reddit.com is displayed in the address bar. To make matter worse, it is not displayed in the area that you can edit, but in the location reserved for sites using secure connections.

chrome address bar short

https

Subdomains are displayed here as well so that you know at least on which part of a domain you are on currently.

The address is revealed either when you click in the address bar or when you interact with it. While you can still copy addresses this way or check that you are on the right one.

Some Chrome users report that the feature is enabled on their system without them doing anything, likely as part of an experiment to find out how users react to the change.

If you are affected by this, do the following to turn it off completely:

  1. Load chrome://flags/#origin-chip-in-omnibox in the browser’s address bar
  2. The preference “Enable origin chip in Omnibox is displayed to you right away on the page that is loaded. It supports all operating systems that Chrome is available for including Windows, Mac and Linux.
  3. To disable the feature, click on the menu and selected disabled from the list of options.
  4. Restart the web browser afterwards to apply the change.

If that was done correctly, the full url should be displayed again in the address bar.

chrome-origin-chip

If you want to give it a try, select one of the two enabled options. One displays the full url on click, the other on input only.

Why is this a problem?

I consider the url essential, and if it is not displayed at all times, a serious issue. You cannot verify that you are on the right address for instance. While you know that you are on the right domain, you do not really where you are until you click or input text.

I do think it is also not ideal as the space the domain names are displayed in now have been reserved previously to distinguish secure sites visually from regular sites.

What’s your take on this?

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