Chrome 75 has a hidden “Reader” mode that strips web pages down to the bare minimum to make them easier to, well, read. But it’s not enabled by default—here’s how to get it now.
Google has been experimenting with this feature on and off in the desktop version of Chrome for years, but it’s now available with a hidden flag instead of an extra hidden command-line option. We expect Google is gearing up to release it in stable form without any flags required.
Update: Google removed this flag from Chrome sometime near the end of 2019. We recommend installing a “reader mode” extension from the Chrome Web Store or switching to another browser that has a built-in reading mode. Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Apple Safari all include a reader mode.
How to Enable Reader Mode
First things first—you’ll need to make sure your Chrome installation is on version 75. Click the three-dot menu button in the upper right, hover over the “Help” menu, and then click “About Chome.”
The About Chrome menu will show which version of Chrome you’re currently running and should check for updates automatically. If an update is available, it will download and install automatically; once that’s finished, click the “Relaunch” button to complete the installation.
If Chrome is still on version 74 and there’s not an update available, you’ll need to wait for 75 to finish rolling out to all users. It released on June 4th, but stable builds are released slowly in four stages. Odds are it just hasn’t hit your device yet, so give it a few days.
Once Chrome is on 75, though, you’re good to go. Open a new tab and enter
chrome://flags/#enable-reader-mode to jump directly to the Reader Mode Flag.
Open the dropdown and change the option to “Enabled,” then click the button at the bottom to relaunch your browser. Once it starts back up, Reader Mode is enabled.
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How to Use Chrome’s Reader Mode
Reader Mode in Chrome is mad-easy to use. When you’re on a page that you’d like to push into the reader view, click on the three-dot menu button in the upper right, and then choose “Distill page.” It’s worth noting that this verbiage will likely change as the feature moves out of flag status and becomes stable. But for now, that’s what you’re looking for. Also, hopefully, a keyboard shortcut will be available at some point.
In a matter of seconds, the page will render with nothing but a clean block of text and images from the post. No ads, no sidebars, no clutter. Just an easy way to focus.
It’s worth mentioning that there’s no way to “undstill” the page—if you want to see the full page again, just click Chrome’s back button. Easy peasy.
As with most other flags, it’s worth noting that Reader Mode still isn’t ready for everyday use—it’s still kind of buggy. For example, there were a handful of occasions when it failed to render images for me. The text always came out fine, however, so it’s still usable.