Google's browser gets opt-in features via about:labs

Google has been at work trying to come up with new ways for users to manage and use their web browser. Many of these ideas may never get pushed into builds, however with a recent Chromium build, Google has added a page that allows you to enable the advanced features called about:labs. This will ease the lengthy process of enabling features, as before you had to use command line flags.

about:labs feature Tabs on the left

In the Windows version of Chromium, the unofficial Google Operating System blog reports there is currently just one about:labs feature. This one feature, called "Tabs on the left" allows for, you guessed it, tabs to display vertically on left side of the browser. Tabs on the left is geared for wide screen browsing as most web pages are relatively thin compared to the full screen resolution of monitors on today's market. 

about:labs feature Tab Overview or "tabposé"

Perhaps a more interesting lab feature is Tab Overview, which works as an exposé for tabs. As people have come to use browsers more and more, the idea of tabs came up to help organize one's browsing. Now that people are reaching a point where even their tabs are getting crowed/full, there needs to be a way to easily manage them. Mozilla's answer to this was Tab Candy, or officially "Panorama" in which you can group sets of tabs together and add tags to them. Google's answer was to make an exposé for tabs so the user could see everything at once. This project has been going on since July.

Windows has tabs on the left, and OS X has Tab Overview, but as of now Linux does not have an about:labs listing. All of the command line flags will still work though, and the two features I mentioned here can be accessed via the flags "--enable-vertical-tabs"  for tabs on the left and "
--enable-expose-for-tabs for Tab Overview. about:labs is enabled on the latest Chromium build only, but hopefully we will see this feature trickle down to the dev channel as well.

Image Credit: googlesystem.blogspot.com

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24 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

How about this new feature, enabling such advanced features as, say ... a Menu Bar, one advanced
feature most proper browsers have always had? Also if we're talking about moving the placement
of tabs, how about an option to put them back in the proper place ... below the Location Bar?

So, essentially ... it's a feature that could make Chrome look more like a proper desktop internet
browser rather than something that looks like it's designed for use on a public internet kiosk,
or those useless, pointless, crappy slow things known most commonly as netbooks.

DJGM said,
How about this new feature, enabling such advanced features as, say ... a Menu Bar, one advanced
feature most proper browsers have always had? Also if we're talking about moving the placement
of tabs, how about an option to put them back in the proper place ... below the Location Bar?

So, essentially ... it's a feature that could make Chrome look more like a proper desktop internet
browser rather than something that looks like it's designed for use on a public internet kiosk,
or those useless, pointless, crappy slow things known most commonly as netbooks.


Come on! Menu bars are sooo 2008!

DJGM said,
How about this new feature, enabling such advanced features as, say ... a Menu Bar, one advanced
feature most proper browsers have always had? Also if we're talking about moving the placement
of tabs, how about an option to put them back in the proper place ... below the Location Bar?

So, essentially ... it's a feature that could make Chrome look more like a proper desktop internet
browser rather than something that looks like it's designed for use on a public internet kiosk,
or those useless, pointless, crappy slow things known most commonly as netbooks.

Wow, you're full of spit and vinegar, aren't you?

DJGM said,

feature most proper browsers have always had? Also if we're talking about moving the placement
of tabs, how about an option to put them back in the proper place ... below the Location Bar?

Proper place? If you think about it above the location bar is the right place. You should watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmgtW2Iw-kE

All I want is a UI setting to allow me to enter a profile location.. then I can have a truly portable Chromium. I know I can enter it as a flag but this really only applies to shortcuts.. not the default browser config (such as clicking a link in a mail)

I use Chrome at work, and while I miss many of the features Opera offers me, there are a few aspects I like more about chrome (such as no resizing of tabs when you close a tab via your mouse, this helps avoid issues when you close a tab with your mind set on moving to another tab afterwards, changing the size as soon as a tab closes can cause you to click a different tab then you were originally going to move to) and a couple other random things. But at the same time, it has crashed and lagged out FAR more often then Opera ever has for me, and its missing one of my most-used opera features, single-key shortcuts (1 to move to the tab to the left, 2 to move to the tab to the right, etc).

Hopefully, about:labs will start offering more and more features so Chrome can compete with Opera on that front.

Panda X said,
Too bad it's only in Chromium and not Chrome Dev.

~ next week then for the rest of us.

Or maybe already today if running a Canary build? I dunno about that.

hotdog963al said,
I'm using 7.0.503.0 and I get a blank page

7.0.503.0 is Dev which about:labs is not available on. I think you should re-read the article if you haven't already.

DarkNovaGamer said,
7.0.503.0 is Dev which about:labs is not available on. I think you should re-read the article if you haven't already.

Does it matter? It may have been implemented in 7.0.503.0, but that doesn't exclude it from later builds where they have likely refined it. A lot of people report problems accessing it, I have none. I say use a later build, and you say no?

Recon415 said,

Does it matter? It may have been implemented in 7.0.503.0, but that doesn't exclude it from later builds where they have likely refined it. A lot of people report problems accessing it, I have none. I say use a later build, and you say no?

I think you misread what I said. I did NOT say to NOT use later builds, I just stated its not available on that particular build (which is in the Dev channel) and that the person I was replying to should re-read the article.

Good lord.

Recon415 said,

Does it matter? It may have been implemented in 7.0.503.0, but that doesn't exclude it from later builds where they have likely refined it. A lot of people report problems accessing it, I have none. I say use a later build, and you say no?


Do you have some comprehension issues?

DarkNovaGamer said,
7.0.503.0 is Dev which about:labs is not available on. I think you should re-read the article if you haven't already.
Yeah I re-read it, missed a chunk of it originally. MY BAD. ;D

well, i'm using the latest Dev build and many videos on youtube now appear with the HTML5 tag, also the button are different and there is only one for customizing and controlling Chrome which also includes some useful page settings and a the task manager....but i don't have that lab tab.

Meconio said,
well, i'm using the latest Dev build and many videos on youtube now appear with the HTML5 tag, also the button are different and there is only one for customizing and controlling Chrome which also includes some useful page settings and a the task manager....but i don't have that lab tab.

Try typing about:labs into the address bar.

UHYVE said,

Try typing about:labs into the address bar.

Yeah I did, while it works for memory it doesn't for labs, but apparently only works for chromium.

I wonder if hardware acceleration will added to labs. Atm I'm using a load of flags so it would be nice to be able to handle that within the UI.

mad_onion said,
I wonder if hardware acceleration will added to labs. Atm I'm using a load of flags so it would be nice to be able to handle that within the UI.

The composited rendering included seems to be rather poor, it decreases performance by about 5 percent in normal usage for some reason, my Peacekeeper scores are always about 500 points lower with it enabled