Google introduced Tab Groups in the company’s Chrome web browser some time ago. The main idea behind tab groups is to improve the manageability of tabs in the browser by grouping them automatically. Say, you open the Ghacks website, and then two articles in new tabs in Chrome. Instead of displaying the articles as individual tabs, all three tabs would form a group automatically. When you are done, you may close the group and with it all of its tabs.
Tab Groups are not liked by all Chrome users, and recent changes to the code for Chrome on Android have sparked quite the controversy. Previously, Chrome users could disable Tab Groups by disabling the feature on Chrome’s experimental flags page. Chrome would stop creating tab groups automatically.
The update invalidated the flag. While still there, setting it to disabled has no longer an effect. Chrome is still creating tab groups automatically, and there is no option in the menu to open a link in a new tab (and not inside the tab group).
Chrome users on Android have two options by default when it comes to opening links by long-tapping them. Either open the link in a tab in the group or open it in an incognito tab.
Disable Chrome Tab Grouping
It is still possible to restore the option to open links in a new tab, and not in a tab group, in Google Chrome for Android. The functionality is powered by an experimental flag, and it is possible that this flag is going away at one point, rendered useless by Google, or modified.
For now, here is what you can do:
- Load chrome://flags in the Chrome version on Android.
- Use the search at the top to find Tab Grid Layout.
- Set the flag to Disabled.
- Restart the Google Chrome browser on Android.
The classic option to open links in a new tab is restored after the restart. Set the flag to Enabled or Default to restore the status quo.
Chrome was never a browser that gave users lots of customization options. Often, Google would introduce a change and remove options after a while. Making Tab Groups the default and only option in Chrome is a classic Google move. It is possible that the feature is still being worked on and that options to disable it will be introduced, but I would not hold my breath.
For now, disabling the Tab Grid Layout will restore the classic behavior.
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