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Google Chrome has had a hidden Reader Mode for years, giving you a simplified view for web pages that might be too distracting. After many years, Chrome is finally rolling out reader mode to everyone, but there’s a catch.

Google announced several new features and services for education today, including a new Chrome feature called “Reading mode.” It appears as a new dropdown menu option in Chrome’s sidebar, and when you select it, a simplified version of the current page is displayed in the sidebar. You can update the font, line size, and character spacing for easier reading.


The blog post announcing the feature explains, “One of our newest features to support this effort is reading mode, a customizable reader view coming to the side panel in Chrome browser. Reading mode reduces distracting elements on the screen, like images and videos, to help you focus on a page’s primary content. You can also customize settings like the typeface, font size and spacing, and text and background color.”

Despite the almost-identical name, Reading Mode isn’t the same as the existing Reader Mode feature — the simplified page is displayed in a side panel, and doesn’t replace the original content like proper Reader Mode. The new feature was renamed from “Read Anything” to “Reading Mode” in Chrome’s code back in February, and it’s still separate from the hidden Reader Mode. They even have different Chrome flags: #reader-mode and #read-anything.

Reader mode image
Reader Mode in Chrome 112

So, now that something like Reader Mode (except less useful) is now an official feature, the future of Reader Mode is uncertain. Reader Mode was first added in 2019 as an experimental Chrome flag, which is usually how Google tests new Chrome features before rolling them out to everyone. Four years later, the feature is still only available as an experiment, possibly because it conflicts with Google’s advertising buisness — Reader Mode hides most web ads. The new feature still leaves the original page visible.

The new Reading Mode, not to be confused with Reader Mode, will be available in Chrome 114. That update is scheduled to start rolling out on May 24, 2023.

Source: Google

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Corbin Davenport is the News Editor at How-To Geek, an independent software developer, and a podcaster. He previously worked at Android Police, PC Gamer, and XDA Developers.
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