Google keeps trying to force feed me its hideous new Chrome design. Here's how to revert to the classic one.

Chrome's new design
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Last Fall, Google started rolling out a major redesign to its desktop browser. Google calls its changes "Material You," but I started calling them "ugly" and "annoying" when an update marred my browser's UI in December. Then I figured out how to get rid of the changes and was happy with the classic interface, until today (March 26, 2024) when my browser updated itself to version 123 and overrode my changes, bringing me back to the hideous look I tried to get rid of.  Read on, because there's a new workaround that, as of this moment, still works.

On the surface, the changes seem slight and many won't notice them or care. The tabs and and all menus  (bookmarks, settings, etc) look like they are detached and somehow floating slightly above the main window. The icons for folders and for the extension menu look hollow and lifeless. Worst of all, the open tabs menu has inexplicably moved from the right side of the window (next to the minimize button) all the way over to the left side, next to the left most tab icon.    

Here's the good news: You can revert Chrome back to its tried-and-true design and layout with a few settings changes. Google has already, as of this week, tried to prevent people from going back to the older 2023-and-prior era design so I can't guarantee that, at some point, Google won't block these changes altogether.  (h/t to Geeker Mag on YouTube for this new method).

How to Revert Chrome Browser to Its Old Design

1. Navigate to chrome://flags/#chrome-refresh-2023. This will take you to the Flags menu and directly to the option called "Chrome Refresh 2023."

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Set Chrome Refresh 2023 to Disabled.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. Disable Chrome WebUI Refresh 2023 at chrome://flags/#chrome-webui-refresh-2023.

Disable Chrome WebUI Refresh

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Disable Customize Chrome Side Panel at chrome://flags/#customize-chrome-side-panel.

Disable Customize Chrome Sidepanel

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Click the Relaunch button, which will close and reopen the browser.

click relaunch

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Chrome will now have its old design. You can always reverse this process if you wish to switch back.

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.
  • FoxtrotMichael-1
    In other news, “get off my lawn.”
  • evdjj3j
    You should switch to Firefox.
  • jeremyj_83
    Easiest fix is to use Firefox.
  • Beachb0y
    Totally agree, colourless crap. If everyone does it amybe they will revert.
  • Rakanyshu
    You know you're getting old when you complain about changes like this, to be honest it kinda looks better now, and you can allways revert the changes if that feels better for you. I'm not really young close to 40 now but i don't remember being so picky about software changes back when i was 17 or 18, every change was like "wow this is nicer and give a lot of new features" so complain if you are getting less features and or options, that i can get, but complaining because its different...
  • setx
    You deserve every bit of it for using Chrome. It was Chrome's philosophy from the start to kill interface customization and "we know better what user wants".
  • Giroro
    jeremyj_83 said:
    Easiest fix is to use Firefox.
    But the non-ugly version of Firefox with the good menus is so ancient that web pages don't even load properly anymore. Nearly 3 years old!
    Why can't a 3 year old browser load web pages? I dunno man. But it's even worse trying to use their outdated/far superior mobile browser as well (68.11.0), since I lose pictures on sites like Tom's and reddit is completely non-functional. But it's the last version that lets me open and manage tabs the way I need to, and you can't have multiple versions of the same app installed on one device.

    I'm not sure why the designers of every peice of software on earth simultaneously decided to ship hideous, poorly laid-out garbage during covid. Even worse, I can't figured out why so few teams have realized they need to fix their mistakes, or at least give people back the customization options they all removed at that time.
  • coromonadalix
    they will surely enforce it in the future like msoft ........ locking us out why do they think its the best for us NAH

    the engineers need to work, once in a while they need to mess everything up, and try for 1-2 years of patching them loll
  • M0rtis
    This is the perfect opportunity to delete Chrome and install Firefox instead. I have no idea why people prefer Chrome. Is there some power user feature it has that I might be missing ? I can have a bazillion tabs open in Firefox and its fine so thats not an issue.
    I preferred Chrome on Android but after they removed cascading Tabs view and made it grid only, I had to switch on Android as well
  • BX4096
    M0rtis said:
    This is the perfect opportunity to delete Chrome and install Firefox instead. I have no idea why people prefer Chrome. Is there some power user feature it has that I might be missing ?
    Power user feature? Please. The simplest explanation is that Chrome comes pre-installed on most Android installations (70%+ global market share), and most users have no interest in getting and learning to use something else when they already have their "internet working".

    Firefox also blew it when they alienated a lot of their user base by dumbing things down to Chrome's level several years ago. Things are more or less back to normal now, and it's still vastly superior to Chrome, but I'm sure it didn't help things any.