Will Google Kill the URL Bar in Chrome?

Mike Halsey MVP
Feb 22, 2011
Updated • Feb 15, 2014

All web browsers are getting serious overhauls with the most recent being Internet Explorer 9 with its new one box. This is a unified address and search box and it makes sense as you can search from the URL box in most browsers anyway.

Some users on the other hand prefer separate address and search boxes, for instance to use two different search engines or to separate search from loading websites directly.

Now ConceivablyTech are reporting that Google is considering options for future versions of its Chrome browser, and the company could be going even further than Microsoft.

In an interesting move, one possible option is to remove the address and search boxes altogether and instead allow people to type searches and URLs directly into a browser tab.
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This is an approach that makes a large amount of sense in the web 2.0 world. As more and more people use web applications the browser "chrome" is becoming an annoyance that just takes up valuable desktop space. This is especially true on the smaller screen of netbooks, tablets and the like.

While it may make sense from a chrome-less perspective, it is usability that could drop as a result. Considering that Internet users made use of address bars to type addresses and searches, it remains to be seen how users will react to a drastic change as proposed by the company.

The proposal does not address critical questions that solutions need to be found for. For instance, what happens if the user opens a lot of tabs?

Thus there are also additional options they are looking a, for instance to use one address form for searches and urls just like Internet Explorer does.

You can see their four concepts above. It can  be assumed that the Sidetab concept will probably fail to gain enough support while the classic and compact views are more likely to be selected by the company.

It is interesting to note that Google considers adding a touch-optmized version of the browser with larger buttons. This is something that Microsoft won't be delivering until Windows 8 either in the summer or the autumn of 2012. Google used Chrome to get a significant head start on both Firefox and IE by revolutionizing the browser and including the features that people actually *needed*. By showing what a touch interface could look like now they could solidify this position for the foreseeable future.


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  1. Dotan Cohen said on February 22, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I would definitely use the Sidetab implementation. I currently use Firefox like that with the Tree-Style Tab addon.

  2. Peter said on February 22, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Erm, adressbar in Opera is my searchfield. Just the abbreviation of the wanted searchengine (g google, e ebay, z amazon,…) followed by the keyword(s) brings up my searchresults. …and it seems to worked before IE9 comes out. ;)

  3. Password Manager said on February 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    It is scary how much control Google has over our lives and our internet. Their all powerful approach is why I have stayed away from Chrome.

  4. Kaushik said on February 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    And what happens when I have 20 tabs open and want to search on the 21st tab? I get a 10mm wide search box. Stupid redesign.

  5. Dwight Stegall said on February 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    If you want no toolbars including addressbar on the screen go to fullscreen mode then press Windows Key+R and type in or paste a full URL. This will open the URL in your default browser. this works in all browsers.

  6. Dwight Stegall said on February 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I remember many years ago when electronic miniaturizing
    first started. Everyone complained it was too small to be useable. Looks like these people didn’t learn anything from that.

    They’ll end up with total screen real estate like fullscreen mode and then have to come back where we are now to satisfy users.

    So why do it at all if you just have to undo it later?

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