Google Chrome logo close-up.

Google Chrome 76, released a few days ago, has a surprising change: It hides the www. and https:// for website addresses in the omnibox, or address bar. This comes after an outcry when Google tried this back in Chrome 69.

As spotted by Bleeping Computer, the latest stable version of Chrome now hides these parts of URLs. So, if you go to “https://www.howtogeek.com”, Chrome’s address bar will just say “howtogeek.com”.

Chrome's omnibox hiding https:// and www.

If you still want to see the full URL, you can. Simply double-click in Chrome’s omnibar (address box) to reveal it. If you have Google’s Suspicious Site Reporter extension installed, Chrome will always show the full address. There’s also a Chrome flag you can disable—just head to chrome://flags/#omnibox-ui-hide-steady-state-url-scheme-and-subdomains

Google thinks these details aren’t important. You can still tell if you’re using an encrypted https:// address by looking for the lock next to the website’s name—or, more accurately, the absence of the “Not Secure” indicator you see on unencrypted http:// addresses. Google already hid the “http://” from unencrypted websites.

And, while addresses like “www.howtogeek.com” and “howtogeek.com” can technically point to different web pages, they almost never do.

There’s one difference this time—for mobile domains starting with a “m.” instead of a “www.”, Google Chrome won’t hide the “m.” Back in Chrome 69, Google tried to hide this as well.

Google’s Emily Schechter posted Google’s explanation on the Chromium bug tracker:

The Chrome team values the simplicity, usability, and security of UI surfaces. To make URLs easier to read and understand, and to remove distractions from the registrable domain, we will hide URL components that are irrelevant to most Chrome users. We plan to hide “https” scheme and special-case subdomain “www” in Chrome omnibox on desktop and Android in M76.

This is a little unfortunate because so many people have been trained to look for the “https://”. On the other hand, the secure lock indicator is there. Chrome now warns you very strongly when you visit traditional http:// sites, too. As Schechter points out, Chrome’s developers have “worked with other browser representatives to incorporate URL display guidance into the web URL standard.”

RELATED: What’s New in Chrome 76, Available Now

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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