How to disable Chrome's new extra-thick menus

How to disable Chrome's new extra-thick menus

Summary: Chrome just recently decided to change its menu behavior to accommodate fat fingers. For those of us with big lists of bookmarks, this can be really annoying. This article shows you how to turn it off.

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TOPICS: Google
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JULY 2013 UPDATE: Google has apparently disabled this switch (why??) and so we're now stuck with these terrible menus. Older updates at the end of this article. Still looking for a workaround, but for now, this author is very, very annoyed. 

Chrome just recently decided to change its menu behavior to accommodate fat fingers.

Menu items are now separated by extra white space. For those of you with touchscreens, that's probably a big help. But for those of us using a mouse and a keyboard, all this update does is use more screen real estate.

For those of us with big lists of bookmarks, this can be really annoying. The following image shows the difference before the update and after.

2013-04-05-chrome-menu2
(Image: Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNet)

Fortunately, there's a pretty simple fix, thanks to a post on the Google Chrome forums.

Simply open up Chrome's properties, and add the string "--disable-new-menu-style" as shown below:

2013-04-05-chrome-menu21
(Image: Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNet)

I have to agree with poster CorteXodus that not having an obvious way to turn this off is ridiculous.

Some of us still need to use real computers.

This fix works in Windows 7 and Windows 8. I'm not sure about the other operating systems, but at least it's a start.

If you're using something else and you can use a modified version of this solution, or you find another, post it in the comments below.

Update: As reader Michael Alan Goff suggested below, there are about:flags options available called "Enable touch events" and "Touch Optimized UI". On my Chrome, these are set to automatic, but setting them to Disabled may also provide the solution. This is just one of the reasons our readers are so very cool.

Update 2: Well, that didn't work. I tested it on my Win7x64 box and the about:flags hack didn't work, but the command-line parameter did. So, that's your path for now.

Update 3: My menus went back to fat-finger menus today. However, when I closed Chrome, right-clicked on the Chrome icon in Windows (both 7 and 8), selected Properties, closed the dialog, and then re-opened Chrome, the normal menus came back. I'm really hoping this isn't going to be an ongoing nightmare. Otherwise, maybe it's time to reconsider Firefox or (wow) IE.

Topic: Google

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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19 comments
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  • hi

    Bud delete ur all google Browsers just use safari on Mac or iOS and for windows oratession of interMet explorer.
    Jessi Atwal
  • chrome

    Can't get it to work on XP unfortunately.
    PeteStan1
    • Worked on XP for me

      Works just fine for me and exactly as presented here. Make sure you are using two leading hyphens, Linux style. Thank you, David! This was driving me up the wall. I wish they'd put something in the settings, though...
      Rodo1
  • Oh, waaa....

    Even with a mouse, this is beneficial. It'll prevent over clicking. You know, that problem the old Start Menu in Windows 7 suffers from.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Anything to plug your tinker toy OS, huh?

      CaviarGreen
  • Thank you so much !!!

    At first I thought something went badly awry with my Chrome installation ... and was pissed.
    It's perplexing that a company like Google doesn't devise a better solution than adding a command line string. Reminds me of good old DOS times. Vomit ...
    EnticingHavoc
  • Wouldn't it be easier

    To go to about:flags and turn the touch optimized UI off?
    Michael Alan Goff
    • Thanks, updated

      See the update note in the article.
      David Gewirtz
      • No problem

        I do have to say, though, it'd be better if they just disabled all touch related things.

        Like... they do these things

        "Disable touch adjustment. Windows, Linux, Chrome OS
        Disables touch adjustment support. Touch adjustment is the process of refining the position of a touch gesture in order to compensate for touches having poor resolution compared to a mouse.
        Enable"

        Shouldn't it be disabled by default?
        Michael Alan Goff
  • Oh, also

    What's that line 'some of us still need to use real computers' about? Is a computer mysteriously lesser because it has a touch screen instead of a normal one?

    If that's all it takes to make a computer lesser, then I have to wonder about your supposed expertise.
    Michael Alan Goff
  • Thanks for this

    Wow, Chrome went full retard with this release. Anyone who uses a real computer will be going "WTF where they thinking ???" today.
    LuckyLuigi
    • Spelling herp derp

      Yeah yeah What were != where it's monday morning gimme a break lol
      LuckyLuigi
  • Works for me

    The command line add-on works in XP for me. But I now have version 27 and EVERY time I open Chrome I get two tabs instead of just one tab. WTF?
    charleyj98
  • Chrome 28

    has broken the command line fix. No way to get back to the old-style menus now. S***!
    charleyj98
  • I would almost PAY someone to come up with a fix for this "feature"

    Dedicated Chrome user, but this "Barbie's first browser" interface would even have me considering IE again for the first time in 10 years.
    dsjohnston@...
  • annoyed with the new bookmark style

    I'm annoyed that they removed this switch. I can understand the need for double space bookmarks when I'm using a tablet device, but it's not necessary when using a desktop/laptop. Ironically, the old bookmark style is still the default for Linux, just not for Windows anymore. I was Chrome's biggest supporter until they messed with my bookmarks. I'm back to Firefox 22 for now.
    nightwalkerIL
  • work-around

    Try adding this switch instead of the other one--
    --force-fieldtrials="NewMenuStyle/Compact2/"
    jwillum
    • Pro

      Thank you for giving me my bookmarks back jwillum.
      holtzen
  • And there's now even a petition for it

    And there's now even a petition for it, well done Google !!

    http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/google-change-the-menu-style-in-chrome
    midas02