My favorite hidden Chrome OS feature that you’re probably not using

Hidden Chrome OS feature reader mode options

Like most of you, I browse the web. A lot. Probably for 60+ hours a week between work and school, I’m using a web browser with most of that time reading articles and stories. You might not browse as much as I do; in fact, I hope not. Even if you only surf for a third of that time, my favorite hidden Chrome OS feature makes this a better experience.

This feature is called “Reader Mode” and it’s actually been around since 2019! Essentially, it reduces the clutter from a web page to give you a clean, relaxing interface. And yet, even arriving more than two years ago, this isn’t an easy-to-find feature in Chrome OS. It’s still hidden behind an experimental flag.

Luckily, it’s easy to enable. Just copy and paste this link in your Chromebook browser: chrome://flags#enable-reader-mode. Then choose either of the Enabled options and restart your browser when prompted.

Enable this hidden Chrome OS feature for reader mode

Once your browser restarts, you’ll see a new icon in the browser address bar whenever you’re on an individual web page. You can see it below, next to the Bookmark star in my browser. And you can also access it from the three-button Chrome browser menu, which is also shown. I personally prefer a single click, so I use the former method and tap the icon.

Chrome OS Reader Mode button and menu option

Both methods work the same, and here’s an example result to show you the output:

Chrome OS Reader View mode

Since Google originally introduced Reader Mode, it added a way to modify the background color, the text font, and the font size. To change those settings, just tap the “A” that appears above and to the right of the web content.

Hidden Chrome OS feature reader mode options

These settings come in really handy on the smaller screen of Chrome OS tablets, by the way.

It’s true that there are third-party services and Chrome extensions that offer the same, if not more functionality. You might be familiar with them already.

But if you just need a distraction-free web experience to read articles, the Chrome OS Reader Mode feature is up to the task. And it might be getting new functionality as well. I’ve previously covered another hidden Chrome OS feature that brings a Reading List to your Chromebook.

That’s available now as well but Google is still tweaking it. The last time I checked, articles saved to a Reading List would be integrated into a view with Bookmarks and Reader Mode.

Either way, this is my most-used, favorite experimental feature in Chrome OS. To be honest, I’m not sure why after all this time, it’s not an available standard setting!

16 thoughts on “My favorite hidden Chrome OS feature that you’re probably not using

    1. Aweseome! Yeah, ads are a bit of necessary evil so I can pay for my bills and school. Honestly, if I could swing it financially, I’d offer an ad-free experience. And I totally appreciate that folks use ad blockers and reader modes. I do too, obviously! 😉

  1. Thanks Kevin, just enabling it now on my Pixelbook Go. I couldn’t get the text line to trigger it so just went with chrome://flags and used the page search to highlight the enable reader mode option.

  2. Thanks for this, I didn’t know it was available. I occasionally run across problematic paywalls and have been using a site called 12 ft ladder (https://12ft.io/) but it’s not perfect. Hopefully I will see the difference in the next week.

    1. Sorry about that, David. I upgraded some security settings on the site and they’re appending an https to the URL. I’ll have to see if I can stop that from happening when sharing links to experimental flags. Cheers!

  3. This is very cool and very useful! I will be using it a lot, especially to print articles from web pages without all the junk!

  4. Google should either polish this feature and make it a standard component or kill it off. It’s already part of desktop Google News.

    It’s sometimes useful, suppressing the content of ads inserted in-line with the content but replacing the with blank sections as large as those ad. But while the display is less confusing, it can take more effort to scoll through a page; the margins are far too wide.

    A second problem is it opens a second web page, which makes returning to the previous page a two step process, three steps if you wish to view it in Reader Mode. If it could be enabled and disabled from the desktop keyboard and a screen gesture, I’d be inclined to use it more often.

    1. I too have crossed over to chrome and never looked back i love it as much as I hate windows—windows are to throw things out of can I send you an email?

  5. Wow! As somebody with less-than-stellar vision I rate this about the most useful thing since sliced bread. Fantastic! So far it’s the nicest gift I’ve gotten for my recent birthday or as an early Xmas gift.
    Nothing makes me happier (OK that’s hyperbole perhaps but still – very happy!) than a browser doing something very useful without having to use a third party extension made by who-knows-who.
    Thanks so much for the post.
    Have enabled it on my own daily driver Chromebox and will be doing the same for several friends and family whom I have converted from Windows boxes to Chrome OS boxes over the years.
    I do miss talking to some of them as I don’t get nearly the number of support calls I used to.
    Happy Holidays…

  6. Reader Mode seems great *now* … I’ve tried it earlier in its development and it was a poor competitor (compared to, say, “Reader View”, the best free extension in that genre, IMHO). So, thanks for the heads up to give Reader Mode another try. Reader Mode retains more of the relevant images than Reader View, but Reader View has more knobs and whistles. But, as long as it does not regress, Reader Mode looks like the winner.

  7. Thank you for revealing your most “USEFUL” hidden feature. From those of us that need reader’s and seen one too many ads, is much appreciated! The fonts, sepia, and dark-mode are nice bonus, also. Your right in wondering why this feature is flagged? Have had it enabled on a RCA tablet running android for a couple of years now, even a newb like me found it for that device in settings. Got an Acer 713 over year ago and often looked through settings for it but couldn’t find it, at least now I know why! Sure seems like a feature that should be on stable, rather than beta-experiment. BTW thanks also for the +++reviews on 713, was more than I wanted to spend at the time, but it’s been well worth it!

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