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Chrome experiment hides Search URLs

Google is testing a change in the company's Chrome web browser currently that hides the URL in the address bar when users run searches in the browser.

The experimental feature is only available on Android currently, but the description suggests that it will also become available for desktop versions of Chrome and Chrome OS.

A search for the flag on a Windows PC returned zero hits at the time of writing though.

Note: Experimental flags are added to test functionality. There is no guarantee that an experiment will be integrated into Chrome natively; it could very well be removed entirely at any point in time. Google revealed recently that it will remove secure indicators from Chrome's address bar.

The flag, Query in Omnibox, removes the address of the search results page from the Chrome address bar and replaces it with the search query instead.

The images on the following screenshot show the difference. The left part shows the full address in the address field, the right only the search query and no trace of the address.

google chrome hide url

The URL is not even shown when you activate the address bar field; means, it is no longer possible to copy the address or verify it.

The hiding of the URL in the address bar when you run searches in Google Chrome works only if Google is used. The address is displayed in the address field if you use any other search engine but Google Search.

Link to change: chrome://flags/#enable-query-in-omnibox

Description: Only display query terms in the omnibox when viewing a search results page -- Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, Android

Set the experiment to enabled to display only the query term in the address bar, or to disabled or default to return to the status quo and display the search URL in the address bar.

Hide some information in the address bar

chrome hide scheme subdomain url

Google experiments with a second change that manipulates what users see in the address bar. The experiment "Omnibox UI Hide Steady-State URL Scheme and Trivial Subdomains" hides the URL scheme, e.g. HTTPS, and trivial subdomains, e.g. www., from the browser's address bar when enabled.

The full URL is displayed when you activate the address field, for instance to copy it or edit the address.

HTTPS sites are indicated with a lock symbol next to the visible part of the address.

link: chrome://flags/#omnibox-ui-hide-steady-state-url-scheme-and-subdomains

Description: In the Omnibox, hide the scheme and trivial subdomains from steady state displayed URLs. Hidden portions are returned during editing. For Mac, this flag will have no effect unless MavViews is enabled -- Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, Android.

Closing Words

URLs are an essential part of the Internet. They can be turned into links and users may look at the URL to verify that they are on the right webpage. Removing the URL partially or even entirely opens a slippery slope.

If you check the display on the first screenshot, you will notice that the display of the search query is redundant, at least on page load as it is shown in the search field as well.

Why the change then? Scrolling hides the search field on the search results page whereas the address bar remains visible all the time even when users scroll.

Now You: what is your opinion on the change?


This article was first seen on ComTek's "TekBits" Technology News


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