How To Disable Chrome’s White Context Menu And Huge Bookmark Spacing

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:

New (left) and Old (right) menu styles

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 2013Chrome 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” --force-fieldtrials="NewMenuStyle/Compact2/"

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.

12 thoughts on “How To Disable Chrome’s White Context Menu And Huge Bookmark Spacing”

  1. This works…paste in Properties > Target > after chrome.exe” and a space


    • Thanks for the code Andi, does the job re spacing! I’ve updated the article and code edited your comment to force WordPress to keep the double hyphens.

    • @Mike – for what it’s worth you could add to the 22 page (and growing) complaint log at the official Google forum here:!topic/chrome/NzOR_wVBEtI%5B1-25-false%5D

      However, people have complained about this style for months. At least there used to be a workaround which Google have now removed – kind of shows how much they listen to users :-(

      Most likely people will have to either get used to it or just switch (e.g. to Firefox which still has more ways to configure the user interface how you want it…)

  2. Just wanted to add that this solution worked, just not right away. Don’t know what or if I did anything but walk away and when I came back I had my old menu style back. Thanks for sharing this solution.

    • @Terry – glad it helped. Ps – as you only just upgraded to SP3, be prepared to have to download/install 100+ Windows security updates because you won’t have been receiving any for years whilst on SP2.

  3. This is not working in XP 2003 SP2. I’ve tried multiple permutations of this including reboots to no avail.

    • @Terry – sorry I haven’t tested it on XP SP2 because it became obsolete some years ago. SP3 is the only supported version of XP now.

      • I upgraded to SP3 and it didn’t fix the issue. The target for the icon on my desktop, and for a shortcut I created look like this.

        “C:\Program Files\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” –disable-new-menu-style

        I even tried the command line without success.

        C:\Program Files\Google\Chrome\Application>chrome.exe –disable-new-menu-style

        Looks like it’s time to de-install Chrome.

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