Why Is Google Chrome Planning To Hide Full URLs In The Address Bar?

It looks like Google thinks that people don't want to see an entire URL in Chrome's address bar since they have done something worse than hiding parts of the URL like they've done before.

Google already tried hiding sections of URLs in the address bar of Chrome some years ago, but many users didn't like that change and shared their criticisms about the undesired partial URL redaction.

Despite the outrage they received initially, Google feels like trying to redact parts of the URLs once again. Here's what they're trying to do this time.

Chrome on a smartphone
(Photo : Deepanker Verma / Pexels)

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What Is Google Doing To URLs In The Address Bar?

According to Android Police, there were three new Chrome flags discovered and their purposes were all towards hiding parts of URLs.


Each flags have different triggers but they work in a way where you'll only see the name of the site and the top-level domain, like ".com". When they're triggered, you won't be seeing the full URL of the page.

An example of the URL being hidden is when you're browsing iTechSpot, in your address bar and the URL will only show to you as "itechpost.com". It doesn't matter if you're on the homepage or this article.

The main flag, which is named "Omnibox UI Hide Steady-State URL Path, Query, and Ref" hid parts of the URL permanently, the two other flags behave differently.

One of the flags kept parts of the URL hidden except when your cursor hovered over the address bar. So when you're normally browsing, the URL will be hidden.

The other will only hide the full address once the user interacts with the page in any way. So if you've just entered that page, the URL will still display fully.

Google hasn't made any comments on these flags' developments even if this type of thing was criticized initially. According to Google, hiding URLs has a chance to help users see if a site is the real deal or a fake.

A few months ago, Livvie Lin, a Chromium engineer, stated that showing the whole URL could distract people from seeing other parts of the URL that is vital in making a decision involving security.

If you're using Chrome 85's Canary or Dev channels, then you'll have access to these three URL hider flags. The flags being in these channels could mean that they'll be pushed to the stable version of Chrome 85 that comes out in August.

Hopefully, Google scraps these flags like what happened before. Many people need and prefer a full URL so they can see what page they're on or if they want to share the links of the page they're visiting.

How To Check If A URL Is Safe

There's a website you can use called Trend Micro and their tool the Site Safety Center. It will tell you if a site is safe or not. Also, the type of site it is will be shown under the safe/unsafe result.

You can visit Trend Micro's Site Safety Center tool here.

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