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How to turn off the new grid tab layout for Chrome on Android

Google Chrome app logo on a smartphone screen
(Image credit: Google)

Update (6/3/21): The new grid tab layout cannot be disabled following the Chrome 91 update. If you hate the new layout you are not alone, here's a look at the best alternative browsers with a stack/card-based tab layout.

The new tab grid layout for Chrome on Android is a bit of a jarring change leaving many wondering, "how do I turn off the grid layout," fortunately there is still a way to switch back.

It's a little bit more difficult than just jumping into the settings for Chrome and changing it back, but we can walk you through it. Google hasn't been helping matters by breaking some of the previous methods, but we've got the latest instructions on how to bring back card-based tab management to Chrome on Android.  

While the new grid layout and tab grouping could be a powerful tool, after years with the previous tab management system, this kind of change can leave you feeling completely lost. Don't worry though, turning it off is as simple as entering some lines of text in the browser then you're just a few taps away from having everything back to the way it was.

Here are the steps you need to take to disable the new Android tabs feature. 

How to disable the tab grid layout in Android

  • Type "chrome://flags/#enable-tab-grid-layout" into the address bar
  • Tap on the drop-down menu in the Tab Grid Layout entry
  • Select "Disabled"
  • Tap the Relaunch button at the bottom of the screen

Screenshots showing how to turn off grid layout on Chrome for Android

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

I know that didn't fix it yet, don't panic! Google broke this workaround with a subsequent update to Chrome for Android so there's one extra set of steps to follow now.

  • Type "chrome://flags/#temporary-unexpire-flags-m88" into the address bar
  • Tap on the drop-down menu in the Tab Grid Layout entry
  • Select "Enabled"
  • Type "chrome://flags/#temporary-unexpire-flags-m89" into the address bar
  • Tap on the drop-down menu in the Tab Grid Layout entry
  • Select "Enabled"
  • Tap the Relaunch button at the bottom of the screen

Ok, now you are done and should have your card-based tab management again. If you ever want to revert back, just follow the instructions above and change the selection to "Default." As noted Google will eventually deprecate this new fix, we'll do further research to see if we can find a longer-term solution.

If you are specifically put off by the new bottom tab bar that was introduced with this update, but would like to keep the grid layout, that can be done, but only by sacrificing Tab Groups as well. 

  • Follow the previous instructions for Tab Grid Layout, but select "Enabled
  • Type "chrome://flags/#enable-conditional-tabstrip" into the address bar
  • Tap on the drop-down menu under Conditional Tab Strip
  • Select "Disabled"
  • Tap the Relaunch button at the bottom of the screen

I had to close the browser and relaunch it again before this worked for me, but it left me with the new tab grid layout, but no tab grouping and no bottom favicon bar. Unfortunately, it seems like those last two features are inextricably tied together as every time I tried to disable one without the other it would knock them both out. 

We'll keep looking into it, but for now hopefully one of these options works for you.

Happy mobile browsing!