Chrome adds Reading Mode to the sidebar, here’s how to enable it

One of the new features in Chrome 115 is Reading Mode in the sidebar. It allows viewing the simplified version of a web page side-by-side with its regular style. The nice thing about it is that both views scroll synchronously as you read any of them. Finally, the user can customize the reading view style.

Google is working on the reading mode for Chrome for long. Unlike other Chromium-based browsers. But it offers a new experience that differs from what its competitors have. While other browsers replace the page with a barebones layout, Chrome shows both.

Google first announced the change earlier in March 2023, but it has only entered the stable branch with Chrome 115 and above.

Reading mode is a special page view that exists in Chrome since 2015. It removes all unnecessary elements from HTML and keeps only text and inline images. This makes the reading process very convenient and distraction-free. It also allows changing the font, text size, customize the theme dark, and adjust spacing.

Google is slowly rolling out the Reader Mode sidebar feature, which is why most users don't have access to it by default. But it is easy to activate it.

To enable Reading Mode in the sidebar in Google Chrome, do the following.

How to Enable Reading Mode in Chrome Sidebar

  1. Open a new tab in Google Chrome.
  2. Type chrome://flags/#read-anything in the address bar and hit Enter.
  3. Now, enable the Reading Mode option by selecting Enabled from the drop-down list on right.
  4. Restart the browser.
  5. Now, open any website, and click on the sidebar icon and select Reading Mode from the drop-down menu. A simplified version of the current website will appear on the right.

You are done!

💡 Tip: You can also enable the Reading Mode with Screen2x option with the chrome://flags/#read-anything-with-screen2x flag. It promises to improve the feature with machine learning.

It is not clear why Google integrated the updated reading tool into the sidebar. The solution looks odd, as reading the smaller sidebar area it less convenient that having it in the default view.

On the other hand, the combination of the default and simplified page layouts ensures that you don't miss a single text paragraph or image accidentally removed by Reading Mode.

Another reason for such implementation could be ads. Google earns with them, so it is not interested in hiding them when the user "reads" the page. Thus, the company may have concerns about the loss of income from ad blocks removed by the integrated reading tool.

It is difficult to predict whether users will like the sidebar view for reading. Over time, Google will make it available to a wider audience and collect feedback.

Besides the new reading view, Chrome 115 adds the Mica effect to the titlebar. It makes the browser look home on Windows 11 without installing extensions or themes.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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