Enable Side Tabs In Google Chrome

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 22, 2010
Updated • Jul 23, 2010
Google Chrome

All the talking about sidebar tabs today in Firefox reminded me that I wanted to write about a similar feature in Google Chrome, to be more precise in the Google Chrome dev releases and Chromium.

The developers of the browser have added a startup switch to enable side tabs. Users who are running a dev version of Chromium or Chrome can add the startup parameter --enable-vertical-tabs to enable the side tabs functionality.

Here is how it is done in detail (Windows):

Locate the Google Chrome icon, right-click it and select Properties. This opens the Google Chrome Properties window. Locate the Target field and add ––enable–vertical–tabs at the end of it. Make sure there is a space between chrome.exe and the parameter.

A click on OK saves the new parameter. Start or restart Google Chrome. There is no visual indication of side tabs yet. They are activated by right-clicking a tab and selecting Use side tabs from the context menu.

chrome side tabs
chrome side tabs

The current version seems to have problems drawing the side tabs right away. It is necessary to resize the screen, or minimize / restore it before the tabs are displayed in the sidebar.

chrome sidebar tabs
chrome sidebar tabs

Each website is represented by its favicon, page title and a close button. It does not seem possible to change the width of the sidebar tabs yet. The title bar looks awfully empty as well with side tabs enabled.

A right-click on a tab in the sidebar and the selection of Use side tabs will revert the changes and move the tabs to their original location in the browser. It is once again necessary to resize / minimize the window before the tabs are displayed.


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  1. Anonymous said on April 16, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    No longer works with newer versions of chrome in win 10

  2. Alex said on November 13, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Not sure why but I can’t get this working in Ubuntu.

    This is what my command line looks like:
    /opt/google/chrome/google-chrome –enable-vertical-tabs –enable-plugins %U

    Enable plugins works, but tabs don’t.

    Using Chrome 9.0.576.0 dev

  3. Jayesh said on August 25, 2010 at 4:56 am

    TabSense now supports tree style tab management.


  4. Dotan Cohen said on July 25, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Thanks, Martin, I have been waiting for this! Too bad that it doesn’t…
    …work on Linux.
    …have a Tree view like Tree Style Tabs for Firefox.

  5. jerome said on July 23, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    anyway to know if it also works in ubuntu

  6. Carlos said on July 23, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Sorry but it does nothing for me.
    ain’t got the “use side tabs” menu item after adding the command line parameter.

    1. Martin said on July 23, 2010 at 9:24 am

      Carlos, are you using Chrome Dev?

      1. Carlos said on July 23, 2010 at 9:38 am

        I’m not. it was a 4.1.xxx version and I just installed the latest 5.x version.
        I’ve got the side tab bar now, but there’s no close buttons (x) at the right of each bar, and there’s no NewTab button on the top of the sidebar…

      2. Martin said on July 23, 2010 at 10:29 am

        Maybe it is not yet fully implemented into Chrome 5?

    2. Carlos said on July 23, 2010 at 9:24 am

      in fact, you forgot to tell us that this sidebar option is for Chrome 5.x only!

  7. Ex said on July 22, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    That’s strange, normal dashes are automatically turned to en dashes on the site. Anyway normal dashes are required for it to work.

    1. Martin said on July 22, 2010 at 11:50 pm

      Have added html special characters to reflect the double-dash. Thanks for letting me know.

  8. Ex said on July 22, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Actually the parameter is: –enable-vertical-tabs

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