Google Chrome recently changed the context (right click) menu appearance – it used to display a grey background but now uses a white background and has much larger gaps between the text. Likewise, the Bookmarks Bar and Bookmarks folders use a white background and, because the spaces between bookmarks are now so large, fewer bookmarks can be displayed at once.
As a result, users with many bookmarks now have to scroll up or down because they no longer all fit on screen – this can make selecting bookmarks much slower and is a retrograde step.
The rationale behind increasing the space between items may be that it is easier to select an item using a touchscreen. However, there is no simple menu option to revert to the old style context menus – the new user interface therefore helps touchscreen users (who represent less than 1% of all desktop Chrome users) at the expense of usability for the other 99%…
[1% is my generous estimate – latest figures show that W8 accounts for just 3% of PC Market Share – and relatively few of those are touch enabled.]
You can easily see the difference between the two menu styles below:
Note how the new style on the left takes up so much more space on screen – it has a scroll arrow at the top of the bookmarks list because it can’t fit all of them on screen :-(
Fortunately, there is still a way for non-touch PC users to change back to the old style context menus and Bookmarks display – follow our guide below.
How To Disable The New Context Menu Styles
UPDATED 15th July 2013 – Chrome 28 (released this week – see here for full details of changes) removed the old “disable-new-menu-style” workaround used in our original solution.
However, the new solution below does work – for the moment at least. Note that it is another special flag which Google may remove at some point in the future.
We must use a special command flag (switch) to disable the new menu style, reverting back to the older background with smaller gaps between items:
1. Close Chrome (make sure there are no instances of Chrome left running in the background).
2. Find the program shortcut you use to open Chrome – usually on your desktop or in Start \ Programs or Quick Launch\Task Bar.
3. Right click this Chrome shortcut and select ‘Properties’ to open the shortcut’s Properties window.
4. Select the ‘Shortcut’ tab then, in the ‘Target’ box, go to the end of the current entry and add a single space followed by the following text:
NB note that there must be a single space between the existing entry and the two hyphens at the start of this switch, as shown in the example below:
The end result in my Target box (W7 64bit) looks like this:
“C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe”
5. Press OK to apply the change and close the Properties window.
Now use this amended shortcut to open Chrome as usual – you should notice that the context menu has the familiar old grey background with more sensible spacing and that Bookmarks are more closely grouped together.
Notes And Tips
If you ever want to remove this change and use the newer white context menus, follow the above procedure again but this time delete the space and text that you added to the end of the Target box.
Google state that such switches for Chrome “should only be used for temporary cases and may break in the future” – so it is quite possible that this switch will stop working at some point. Hopefully by then an enterprising developer will have created an extension to easily replicate the older menu styles.
If the new shortcut does not work, you may not have closed all of Chrome’s running processes before applying the change – open Chrome Settings and select ‘Show advanced settings…’ then untick ‘Continue running background apps when Chrome is closed’ in the Background Apps section – now close Chrome and try the above steps again.
Alternatively, double check the syntax of the command again, especially the space between the existing command and the new double hyphen text.