How to Unlock Google Chrome’s Experimental Tab Scrolling Early

How to Unlock Google Chrome’s Experimental Tab Scrolling Early

A new tab-management feature is on its way to Chrome. You’ll need Chrome Canary to try out this new “tab scrolling” feature, but it’s worth the separate installation.

When enabled, the strip of open tabs at the top of Chrome will extend “beyond” the confines of the window. Instead of shrinking each tab and cramping them together into a huge mess as you add more, new tabs will show up farther down the scrollable strip.

[referenced id=”1032114″ url=”” thumb=”×169.jpg” title=”Improve Chrome 86 With These Recommended Tweaks” excerpt=”I love when a new browser update arrives, because it’s always fun to see which talked-about features are live and which require a little coaxing to appear. Such is the case with Google’s recent launch of Chrome 86, which rolled out to everyone yesterday.”]

You can navigate the scrollable strip by clicking the small three-dot icons that now appear at the edge of the tab strip. The entire approach is a lot more elegant than how Chrome traditionally displays open tabs, but it’s still in beta, so it’s possible that changes might happen before it gets rolled out into the stable version of Chrome.

What the scrollable tab strip looks like in Chrome Canary. (Screenshot: Brendan Hesse)
What the scrollable tab strip looks like in Chrome Canary. (Screenshot: Brendan Hesse)

As for Chrome Canary, this is a separate version of the browser that serves as Google’s testing ground for all kinds of experimental and unfinished Chrome features. Some of these tests never make it into the public version of Chrome, but considering that tab scrolling is a standard feature in many of Chrome’s rivals like Firefox, it’s a safe bet it’ll be a part of a Chrome update in the near future.

Until then, here’s how to enable the experimental tab scrolling feature in Chrome Canary:

  1. Download and install Chrome Canary.
  2. Open Chrome Canary then go to chrome://flags/
  3. Search for #scrollable-tabstrip.
  4. Enable Scrollable TabStrip using the dropdown menu.
  5. Click “Relaunch” to restart Chrome Canary and apply the settings change.

A quick note: We tried this on two different Windows 10 PCs with varying degrees of success. Enabling Chrome Canary’s tab scrolling worked just fine on one, but routinely crashed the browser on the other. Inconsistencies and bugs are common when using beta software, but it’s still annoying. If it happens to you, disable #scrollable-tabstrip or just go back to using regular old Chrome for now, which recently added several new features.

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