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How to Disable Chrome Tabs from Showing in Android 5.0 Overview

android l switcher

Tabs in Android’s Overview (image: Mashable)

Google drops a sweet treat in the laps of Nexus owners (among others) this week, as it rolls out the latest release of Android 5.0, nicknamed ‘Lollipop’.

Among the (multitude of) changes you’ll be faced with on upgrade is a change to the way that Chrome tabs are handled.

In Android 5.0 on smartphones, Chrome tabs now appear separately in the ‘Overview‘, Android’s multitasking switcher.

The change does not apply to tablets as the browser displays the tab strip by default.

In pre-Lollipop builds, you see one entry when Chrome is open – itself –  regardless of how many tabs may be open on it.

To switch to a specific tab in the past you needed to tap the switcher icon, tap the Chrome entry, then the ‘open tabs’ button in the app and then select the page you wanted.

Android 5.0 halves the number of screen pokes needed. How? By showing open tabs separately in the overview carousel. Now it’s just tap > bam;  you open the switcher, select the tab you want.

Disable Chrome Tabs in Android Switcher

While useful, this behaviour is not going to please everyone who upgrades. If you count yourself among them you’ll no doubt be super relieved to hear it can be turned off.

To go back to the old combined Chrome entry a la Kit Kat, Jelly Bean and earlier:

  • Open Google Chrome for Android
  • Open the menu
  • Select “Settings”
  • Tap “Merge tabs and apps”
  • Set the slider to off

That’s it. If you want to reset the behaviour to default at a later date simply repeat the steps above but set the slider to ‘on’ rather than ‘off’.

Will you be disabling this feature on your Android 5.0 smartphone? 

  • Josh Dawson

    Why would I want to disable a feature that’ll make my life easier?

    • Тарас Мукин

      Because it is making it harder?

      • How?

      • Josh Dawson

        It’s reducing the number of clicks to get to your open tabs, how is that harder?

        • Erik

          Less clicks but a whole lot more swipes as the history gets cluttered

    • I probably will disable it. I collect 40+ tabs, over time, as items I will eventually get to or articles I well read during down time. It would only clutter and slow down my multitasking.

      • Google Keep is your friend.

        • Erik

          Life is too short for google keep

    • João Victor Schiavo

      I have now 76 tabs open on my android phone. It won’t make my life easier. :T

  • CrazyDelta

    Typical human response to change and progress. Revert back to the old ways!! LOL

    • Taziar

      Not all change is progress. It might be a useful feature if it only did it while chrome was active, but otherwise it makes switching apps much more tedious when you have a dozen tabs open.

    • ldrn

      Progress? They switched away from tabs and back to windows, basically.

  • Boothy

    Change, NO, we hate change!
    Now, where did I leave my start menu…………………..

    • Erik

      Who let the troll cave open?

      • Boothy

        Sarcasm is obviously beyond some……….

  • Be nice if it worked on tablets. BE NICE. As well as all the other features.
    Wait… is there a flag for it..? Uh, no, actually.

  • I also disabled it on my phone. I have a bunch of tabs in Chrome for stuff that I’ll eventually get around to reading, and I don’t want them cluttering my app switcher, or risk opening one on accident. I can see this being useful in the future though, as web apps become more prevalent.

    • lunarcloud

      That’s what bookmarks are for :P

      And yes, I write a website and they added new web app features that let you set a high-res icon and color the tab’s chrome. It’s definitely great for web apps.

    • Ettercap

      This is exactly word for word what I was going to say, I do the exact same thing. Honestly bookmarks are nice for something I’ve already read but may in the future wish glance back upon and reference. I use tabs like you where if I find something that I may want to read in an hour or the very next day maybe a week tops I keep it tabbed. I think its a little backwards to have tabs in amongst my recent apps as it just clutters things, granted this does force me to swipe apps more often and makes sense for performance if the user is someone who frequently leaves unnecessary apps in the background, I also leave so many tabs that occasionally it will take a full minute for the app to open or it will open and crash so I have a mixed attitude towards this change.

      Anyways Lollipop is an overall improvement otherwise for some reason my SGS3 SCH-i535 was way slower running KitKat definite noticeable performance boost with lollipop.

  • The new app switcher is horrible to use, so I’m definitely disabling this feature.

    By the way, I don’t recognise your description of how to switch tabs pre-lollipop. Just pull down on the tab in chrome!

  • SarreqTeryx

    OK, now I have a prerequisite problem. Where’s the damn menu button

    • am

      3 dots in top right corner

      • SarreqTeryx

        thank you, but at the time, it just wasn’t there. I had to switch to Chrome Beta to get the menu button back. it seems to be fixed in the current stable version, though

  • Chief

    Thank you so much for the tip

  • pietro giovani

    THANK YOU !!!

  • Electrify85

    One thing about this which puzzles me is WHY they did this? With the current version of the new tab page, you can see that they are trying to interest people into using the optibox to search. But what about this change?

    Perhaps they want people to use the recent app/overview button more? But with this setup, it is encouraging people to swipe it clean after one is finished with almost every app, which is what experts say is what NOT to do (plus you miss out on the addictive card stack animations with it empty).

    So I ask again, what is Google’s method to their madness? This is really starting to rev up my OCD!

    • Boo

      Thanks. Lollipop is very slow….

  • Scarggy

    Can I get this on a tablet if so how as this setting doesn’t exist

  • jceddy

    Can someone explain why anyone thought this would be a good thing? It just made it harder to find my tabs. I ended up with the same page opened multiple times because I thought it had closed…

  • boogienoob

    Thank you! I had a ridiculous amount of tabs open and had no idea!

  • SanadaAki

    Thanks ever so much. I have no idea who thought this was a good idea, but it certainly cluttered up the tab page. I had such a hard time finding things the page I wanted!

  • Guest

    < col Hiiiiiii Friends….'my friend's mom mkes $88 every hour on the internet .She has been unemployed for eight months but last month her payment was $13904 just working on the internet for a few hours. try this site < rry

  • rob green

    I don’t get this feature. On my note3 I have to hold the home button down 2 seconds to get the switcher so it’s a waste of time to see 20 tabs. I also open tans to come back and read when done with current article or search.

  • david brown


  • JayinToronto2

    I am not disabling until I figure out how I can access Tabs within Chrome. There is, apparently a Tab Switcher icon in the lower left (Samsung Note 3) but I don’t see it.

    Any advice/insights would be greatly appreciated.

    • Britt

      Following. I have the same phone and the same problem.

  • Yamna Khan

    thank you!

  • Alex Magellan

    The worst part of these new Chrome tabs is that they’re not tabs at all, they’re windows, in the same ancient Microsoft style.

  • Ahmed Mandor

    Thanks prof . I’m looking for this solution a long time

  • Bryan

    Chrome recently did away with this. How do I get it back? Note: resetting to factory settings broke it until I reinstalled the updates and the settings area is fairly useless.