How to set a minimum tab width in Google Chrome

Google Chrome users who add tabs to the browser come to a point eventually where tabs aren’t added to the browser anymore, apparently. While Chrome does add the tabs, it does not display them in the browser’s tabbar.

Before that, Chrome users will notice that the tabs of the browser shrink so much that even the site’s icon is no longer displayed, let alone the title of the webpage.

Google implemented several techniques in the past year to address this. The most prominent feature is Tab Groups, which Chrome users may use to create collapsing tab groups in the browser to have more tabs open in it without experiencing any of the described issues.

Tab Scrolling is another feature. It is still experimental, but available in Chrome Stable and all development editions of the browser. When enabled, it unlocks tab scrolling, which Chrome does not support by default.

Tab Scrolling may have a positive side effect: it limits the minimum width of browser tabs in Chrome. Once configured, tabs in Chrome won’t be reduced to blank icons anymore in the extreme case.

Configure Tab Scrolling and a minimum tab width in Chrome

Note: Tab scrolling is an experimental feature. It may be integrated in Chrome natively one day, or it may be removed again by Google.

Here is how you configure the feature:

  1. Load chrome://flags/#scrollable-tabstrip in the browser’s address bar.
  2. Activate the status button, reading Default, to display the available options.
  3. Select one of the following values to set a minimum tab width in Chrome:
    • Enabled – tabs shrink to pinned tab width
    • Enabled – tabs shrink to medium width.
    • Enabled – tabs shrink to large width.
    • Enabled – tabs don’t shrink.
  4. Restart the browser once you have made the selection.
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You may need to experiment with the medium and large width tabs values, as Google does not reveal pixel values for those. If you don’t want Chrome to shrink tabs at all, select the don’t value to prevent that from happening.

chrome tab scrolling
tabs medium width

The flag enables tab scrolling as well. Once you open a number of tabs in Chrome, scroll buttons appear on the right side of the tab bar. These can be used to scroll the available tabs.

The one downside to using tab scrolling is that some tabs may not be visible on the tab bar, as you need to scroll to make them visible.


Now You: tab groups, tab scrolling, or something else? How do you manage tabs?