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This Theme Brings Transparent Windows Back to Chrome OS

The new "Meh" Theme (unofficial name)

Grey Window Borders Now Default

Sad times on the Chrome OS design front this week as Google issues an update that replaces transparent window frames with solid grey headers.

We first noted the (sadly intentional) change in development builds a few weeks back. But it’s only with the release of Chrome OS 34 to the stable channel that hope of a reversal has been retired. 

But there’s no reason to be too downbeat about it. If you really liked the Aero-esque transparency and want it back, you can: a third-party Chrome theme created by Kenny Strawn, a long-time Chrome enthusiast, community developer and all-round top guy reenables the look so many of us have come to consider part of the personality of the OS. 

aura ash transparant theme

Strawn’s theme is not a totally faithful recreation; it retains transparency for ‘maximised windows’ (the old theme would render frames black) and when more than one application is open at the same time (Chrome would turn all frames grey).

While some, myself included, consider these changes to be improvements, those after a totally 1:1 recreation should adjust their expectations accordingly.

Aura Ash is a free theme for Chrome and is intended to only work on Chrome OS.

Aura Ash Theme on Chrome Web Store

  • Kenny Strawn

    Yeah, a repeating transparent PNG for a frame background would always be transparent… However, I see that as one-upping (and thus avenging) the transparency Google tried to stamp out.

  • Wesley Files

    I’ve been using this for the past 24 hours and I love it! It was always such a handsome characteristic of Chrome until Chrome 34. I don’t know why they took it away.

    After entering Immersive full screen, the bar is sensibly not transparent, but there’s some odd visual noise as you mouse over the elements. I’m not sure if it can be fixed but I can live with it.

    • Kenny Strawn

      If you mean the way the Web page shows through the frame, yeah, the only way to effectively fix that is to completely replace the fully transparent PNG with a less transparent — or blurred transparent — one.

  • Roland

    I’ve just started using this theme & it only seems to work with tabbed Windows, but not when set to open as a Window.

    • James Bell

      Just a heads up, when you’re referring to the UI element, you don’t capitalize “windows”. If you’re referring to Microsoft’s operating systems, you capitalize it.

  • Marshall Staxx

    It’s pretty, but against a dark background, it’s difficult to see the non-focused tabs…

    • Kenny Strawn

      I issued an update (1.3) that makes ALL tabs, focused and unfocused, opaque shortly before this article was posted…

      • Anonymous

        Unfortunately, you forgot to do that for Incognito windows… :(

        • Kenny Strawn

          I noticed that… May need to be rewritten to solve that problem. On it…

  • Steve

    It’s becoming quite confusing when you have a Chrome window maximized and open another window on top of it.