How to unlock the Android Chrome bottom toolbar

Frustrated that using Android's Chrome browser isn't nearly as easy with one hand as it should be? Learn how to unlock a hidden feature to move some of those elements to the bottom of the screen.

If you find yourself constantly needing to work with your Android phone using only one hand, you understand how frustrating it can be when your thumb doesn't easily reach to the top of the display. No matter how much you stretch that digit, it's too far away to tap successfully--or without risking a gravity test of your device.

Some app developers understand this, so they either design their UI in such a way that it doesn't require super long thumbs to work with one hand, or they make the interface configurable, so those with a normal-length pollex can function without risk.

However, the default Android web browser, Chrome, doesn't have any obvious means to make this change. 

Obvious, being the operative word.  

However, there is a hidden method of configuring that Chrome toolbar to reside in the bottom of the window. By making this change, any thumbnambulator should be able to more easily work with the browser.

But how?

Let me show you.

SEE: Top Android security tips  (TechRepublic download)

What you'll need

The only thing you'll need to make this work is an updated version of Chrome on your Android device. With that at the ready, let's create a thumb-appropriate UI change.

How to enable the option

At the moment, there's no easy way to do this. So open Chrome on your Android device and type the following in the address bar: chrome://flags

In the resulting window, type Duet in the search field (Figure A).

Figure A

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The Chrome flags window.

From the Chrome Duet drop-down, select one of the following options (Figure B):

  • Enabled: Adds Home, Search, and Share buttons to the bottom menu.

  • Enabled Home-Search-TabSwitcher: Adds Home, Search, and Tab Switcher to the bottom menu.

  • Enabled Home-Search-Share: Adds Home, Search, and Share to the bottom menu (same as the Enabled option).

  • Enabled NewTab-Search-Share: Adds New Tab, Search, and Share to the bottom menu.

  • Disable: Disables the Duet UI

Figure B

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Select the option that best fits your needs.

After making your selection, when prompted, tap Relaunch (Figure C).

Figure C

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Relaunch Chrome for the changes to take effect.

Once Chrome relaunches, the changes should appear (Figure D).

Figure D

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Our Home, Search, and Tab Switcher are now at the bottom.

The only disappointment to this feature is that the address bar cannot be added to the bottom. Hopefully, in future releases, the developers will make it such that address bar can also be migrated to the bottom, so those of us with shortish digits can make full use of the web browser with one hand. 

Also see

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Image: Jack Wallen