The address bar is an essential part of a web browser; it reveals the URL of the page that is open in the browser, and Internet users have used it since the beginning to determine the legitimacy of a site and the status of the connection.
Browser makers like Google decided a long time ago that protocols and trivial subdomains were confusing, and started to run experiments to hide the information.
Google wanted to launch the change in Chrome 76 Stable, but decided otherwise. The company integrated flags in the Chrome browser that users could change to restore the classic behavior of displaying the full URL in the browser.
Two experiments were launched in June 2020 to find out how users would react to the change; both again with accompanying flags to restore the classic functionality.
Chrome 86 Canary changes that. The browser hides the protocol, e.g. HTTPS, by default and it also hides what Google calls trivial subdomains such as www. What this means is that you won't see https://www.ghacks.net/ in the address bar when you open this site in the Chrome browser, but only ghacks.net. The same is true for any page you open, as HTTPS:// and www. is not displayed anymore in that Chrome version.
A search for experimental flags to undo the change and display the full URL in the address bar was unfruitful. Google seems to have removed the experimental flags that were available previously.
The lock icon reveals to the user if the connection to the site is secure; it does replace the HTTPS:// part of the address. The same cannot be said for the removal of trivial subdomains though. While many sites are accessible via www. and non-www., e.g. by redirecting one to the other, it is not a given that the content of each of the subdomains is identical. Sites can very well offer different content on www. and non-www. subdomains.
How do Chrome users known the full URL of the page that is open in the browser? A double-click on the address displays the full URL but that is not very practical. There is still an option available to make Chrome display the full URL permanently, and that is by right-clicking on the address bar and selecting Always show full URLs from the context menu.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.