How to enable or disable Google Chrome Material Design on Windows PC

For those who use Google Chrome, it should be clear by now that there’s a new design. Google calls it the Material Design, and not everyone will like this new take on the web browser. Some folks may feel the need to revert back to the old design, and that’s where this article comes in.

Material Design in Google Chrome browser

chrome material design

When it comes down to Chrome 53, it’s all about the Material Design. It’s the main feature here, and from what we’ve come to understand, it’s basically something Microsoft has done before, so Google is just catching up.

The Chrome Material Design brings a complete visual refresh to normal classic Chrome layout. It includes changes like introduction of a Dark Incognito theme, sharp edges of tabs, hamburger menu changes to 3 dots, redesigned pages for Downloads & Extensions, etc. It offers a mouse optimized layout – and the Hybrid layout offers a more spaced-out experience suitable for touch devices. The changes may not be obvious to the eye, but rest assured, they are there.

Revert Chrome 53 back to original design

Chrome 53’s Material Design, means that the user interface is flat, and some icons have changed. For some time now, several companies, Microsoft most notable, have been moving forward towards a flat user interface for their products. We first saw this in Windows 8, and it was brought over to Windows 10. It’s the new thing right now until someone comes up with something better.

Let’s get back to talking about Chrome 53 and its new design.

Outside of the flat user interface, we get to see changes to the tabs, icons are different, and the ominbox has also been changed to match the Chrome version on mobile.

I haven’t found much of a problem with the new design but if you wish to change it back, this is how you go about it.

To change the design back to the original, type chrome://flags into the address bar. After that, Press Ctrl+F, type “Material Design”, the press Enter. You will see a setting Material Design in the browser’s top chrome. Change it from Default to Non-Material, restart the web browser and everything should be back to normal. There’s also an option that says Material Hybrid – it is meant for touch-enabled layout.

Now, if you’re a fan of Material Design, then chances are you’d prefer to see it throughout the entire web browser and not just certain aspects of the user interface.

material design google chrome

Below the option, “Material Design in the browser’s top chrome”, there’s another option known as “Material Design in the rest of the browser’s native UI”. Click Enable and it should extend the –top-chrome-md setting to secondary user interface.

There are so much more that can be done from the chrome://flags menu, but bear in mind many of the options are experimental and may cause problems for the browser.

UPDATE: In Chrome 59, the Material Design in the browser’s top chrome setting has been removed. But if you search for “Material Design“, you will find several elements that you can disable.

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Vamien McKalin possesses the awesome power of walking on water like a boss. He's also a person who enjoys writing about technology, comics, video games, and anything related to the geek world.

14 Comments

  1. George Norman

    Surely you mean Chrome 53 for Windows, not 52.

  2. DjBenny

    Thank You Very Much For This … God Bless You Vamien McKalin 😉

  3. Mee

    I don’t actually mind material design, but the Dark Incognito theme looks HORRIBLE. I do all my browsing incognito so that was a dealbreaker for me.

  4. TVippy

    This “material design” sucks, all the changes are for the worst. The worst of all – everything just got SMALLER, harder to see!

  5. Griddle Jim

    THANK YOU!!!

    The dark incognito theme is a UI disaster. You can’t tell the tabs apart!

    I actually went back to using Firefox it’s so bad.

  6. ClaudioEtto

    THANK YOU from Italy!!

  7. Ken

    Sorry people as of Nov. 17th, this option has now been removed from Chrome (chrome://flags/#top-chrome-md ). They are now forcing their new visual changes permanently.

  8. Tristan, The God Of All Time

    PLEASE NOTE: This fix no longer works as of the update implementing Chrome 55.

  9. exkeks

    This will make me switch to Edge… Material Design is straight ugly.

  10. EllsworthT

    My eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Sadly, the tiny, dark Incognito mode is unusable. Chrome was good while it lasted; it’s jumped the shark.

  11. Jeanne Pelletier

    Are you from San Diego?

  12. Joseph Dickson

    I’m flippin’ annoyed! >:( I hate the awful shape, design, everything about it! I want to go back! :'( I’m actually feeling sad now.

  13. MarkTrak

    Cannot be done anymore. Removed feature. Please update article!!

  14. Matt Sr

    I was able to do this, but it was slightly different than the above instructions:
    1. chrome://flags/
    2. Material Design (without quotes) in the search box
    3. UI Layout for the browser’s top chrome (1st hit): Normal
    4. Relaunch

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