Chrome OS 75 bringing a web page “reader mode”, here’s what it looks like

Last week ZDNet noted that the Canary Channel of Chrome OS 75 included a distraction-free “reader mode” for Chromebooks. I finally got around to trying it out on a device running the not-always-stable Canary Channel and it looks good: Only text and images from web pages appear, with none of the added clutter that often gets in the way.

Although I don’t recommend it, if you want to try this mode, you’ll have to be on the Canary Channel for now. I don’t recommend it because you have to put your Chromebook in Developer Mode, which does eliminate some of the key security features of Chrome OS. Since this is a spare device, I took the plunge.

Once on the latest Canary Channel build of Chrome OS 75, you have to enable the flag for it, found at chrome://flags/#enable-reader-mode.

After a browser restart, you’re good to go. When visiting any web page, you can click the three-dot menu button at the top right of your browser and choose the “Distill page” option.

Here is what you’ll see on the example page I chose above: No ads, no extras, nothing. Simply the text of the page and any images that correspond to the text:

As nice as this is from a reading perspective, I actually still prefer my current method of a reader mode: I use the Evernote extension for Chrome.

Most people think of saving web pages offline with the Evernote extension and that’s because it is the primary function. In fact, I often use it for that very purpose when scanning articles, sites and feeds. But you might not know that the Evernote extension also includes a “simplified article” mode, which is essentially a reader mode.

Here’s what the same page looks like using Evernote’s simplified view:

It’s really a personal preference to me since Evernote adds functions other than its reader mode; it’s quicker to save a web page for off-line use for example.

Regardless, Chrome OS is long overdue to have a reader mode, so Google’s effort is still good news. Hopefully, any bugs or add-on features are worked out for the Chrome OS 75 target date, which is currently mid-June.

About the author

Kevin C. Tofel has covered technology since 2004. He's used ChromeOS since Google debuted the CR-48 in 2010, reviewing dozens of Chromebooks since then. He worked for Google's Chrome Enterprise team from 2016 to 2017, supporting the launch of Android app support. In his free time, he uses Chromebooks to learn software engineering at Launch School. In 2019, Kevin joined the CS Curriculum Committee at his local community college.

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