Reader mode enables user to remove unnecessary clutter on the webpage. This helps to read the page without distraction like advertisement, sidebar and promoted content. Some browsers like Apple Safari offers reader view as a default feature. Google Chrome is a popular browser, but it does not offer reader view option. However, you can use experimental flag or install an extension to enable reader mode in Google Chrome browser.
How to Use Reader Mode in Google Chrome?
First, let us explain using reader mode with an experimental flag.
- Launch Google Chrome and open the URL chrome://flags.
- Type the word “reader” in the search box to dynamically filter “Enable Reader Mode” flag.
- Alternatively, you can directly go to the URL chrome://flags/#enable-reader-mode to filter the “Enable Reader Mode” flag.
- This is flag is available in Mac, Windows, Linux and Chrome OS. By default, the flag will be disabled on your Chrome browser. Click on the “Disabled” button and choose “Enabled” option.
- Chrome will prompt you to relaunch the browser. Click on the “Relaunch Now” button to reopen the browser. Remember to logout from the websites and save all your work before you enable the flag.
- Now you have enabled reader mode in Chrome. You can click on the three dots settings button on top right corner that shows “Customize and control Google Chrome” when hovering the mouse over it.
- You should see an addition menu item “Distill Page” indicating the reader mode is enabled on your browser.
Reader Mode in Chrome Canary Version
If you are using Chrome canary version, then reader mode flag will also enable an icon on the address bar. You can easily click on the icon to enable reader mode to view the simplified page.
Checking Reader Mode in Chrome
Now, open any of your favorite webpage. Go to “Settings > Distill Page” to remove the advertisements and other junks from the webpage to view it in reader view. Below is an example of the original CNN webpage in Chrome.
Here is how it will look when viewed in reader view in Chrome stable version.
Issues with Chrome Reader Mode
Unfortunately Chrome reader mode is not much useful, as it does not filter the content properly. Most of the time it shows a box with few lines instead of the full content. For example, below is the CNN home page with Chrome reader view.
In Canary version, you can toggle the normal and reader mode using the icon. However, this is not possible with the stable version as there will be no icon. In addition, the reader mode will change the webpage to “Not Secure” and show it in the browser even though the original page is secured with HTTPS protocol.
Comparing Safari and Firefox Reader View
Reader view became popular with Apple promoting the feature with its iconic Safari browser. This feature is available by default in Safari browsers for iOS and macOS. If you are a Mac or iPhone user, you can easily check the reader view function in Safari is much better than Chrome’s experimental feature.
Firefox reader view is also good, however it does not show on all the pages. When supported, you can click on the reader view icon on the address bar to remove the clutters.
On Safari and Firefox, you can easily toggle the modes by clicking or tapping on the “Reader View” icon on the address bar. However, it is not possible to do so on Chrome stable version, as the URL will completely change when you distill the page with reader mode.
Why Google May Not Promote Default Reader View in Chrome?
It’s obvious that Google may not promote this reader view as Apple does for Safari.
- Google’s primary source of income is advertisement. If visitors remove the advertisements with reader view then it will have direct impact on Google’s revenue.
- Chrome has +60% of market share in the browser market. Adding such a feature will have huge impact for Google’s ad revenue.
Even if Google implements this feature in future versions, it will be there for name shake like ad block feature.
Alternate: Reader Mode Extension for Chrome
Since Google can remove experimental flags in Chrome update without any communication, the best option is to go for a third-party extension from Chrome Web Store.
- Go to Chrome Web Store and search for “reader view” extensions.
- You can find few extensions and click on the “Add to Chrome” against the “Reader View” extension to install on your browser.
- Confirm the installation by clicking on “Add extension” button.
Features of the Reader View Extension
The Reader View extension uses Firefox readability library to remove the clutter. It adds a book icon on right of browser address bar. Open any webpage and click on the extension icon to view the content in reader view.
- Toggle the reader view by clicking on the icon.
- Enable or disable images.
- View the content in full screen mode.
- Dictate the content to hear the audio.
- Save or print the HTML page.
- Increase or decrease the font size.
You can also right click on the extension icon to select “Options” and customize the features.
Reader view or reader mode is a useful feature for removing the images, backgrounds and advertisements. In order to enable reader mode in Google Chrome, you can try the experimental flag with stable or canary version. If you want to have perfect reader mode then try using the extension.
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