Tab tweaks land in Chrome Canary

Google adds a new labs feature to its bleeding-edge version of Chrome to make it easier for users to test features that are still in development, but at least partially ready for users to explore.

The new about:labs feature in Chrome Canary gives Google a user-friendly way to test out experimental features.

The new about:labs feature in Chrome Canary gives Google a user-friendly way to test out experimental features.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Google's "canary-in-the-mineshaft" version of its Chrome browser gained a new "labs" option for users to explore on Wednesday. Users of Chrome Canary, named to indicate that it's an even rougher version of Chrome than the developer's build, can now activate rougher, in-progress features by typing "about:labs" into the location bar. About:labs was first revealed last week.

The first feature to land in the lab is Side Tabs. To activate it, go to about:labs and click the Enable button under Side Tab. Restart Chrome Canary and when you right-click on any tab, choose the option at the bottom of the menu to Use Side Tabs. This will move your tabs into a vertical column on the left of the browser. To revert back to the tabs-on-top scheme, click on Use Side Tabs again.

The switch is perhaps useful for people with widescreen monitors who wish to see the dozens of their open tabs in a column form, exposing more of a Web site's title than would otherwise appear on the tab bar. However, the switch also forces an empty title bar at the top of the window; there's definitely room for more development in this particular lab experiment.

Depending on how Google implements it, one of the potential benefits of About:Labs could be to allow users to explore new features that would otherwise be available only through command line flags.

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