Domains Come Into Focus As Chrome Clips URLs


Google is back at it again – experimenting with what shows up in users’ omnibox and address bar when they use Chrome. Google has tried on and off since years, to hide those parts of URLs it deems “irrelevant”, or just not show them at all, displaying the keywords the user typed, instead.

This time it has hidden the http:, https: and www. prefixes whilst showing just the domain name. For example, if you go to it is displayed as Although, when you copy the link address, the whole of it gets copied.

The reason for running the experiment, according to a developer, is that the display of the full URL makes it difficult for the average user to distinguish between legitimate and malicious sites. It is currently running two main experiments:

Omnibox UI Hide Steady-State URL Path, Query, and Ref – It only displays the domain name on the page unless the user clicks in the address bar (e.g. to edit the URL).

Omnibox UI Hide Steady-State URL Path, Query, and Ref On Interaction – This hides all but the domain name in the address bar when the user interacts with the page, e.g. scrolls.

A third experiment brings back the full address when the user hovers over the address bar (only on desktop):

Omnibox UI Reveal Steady-State URL Path, Query, and Ref On Hover – shows the full URL when the mouse cursor hovers over the address bar, but the prefixes still don’t show up.

Despite receiving public backlash every time Google messes with the URLs, it has been doing it again and again. It is clear that it is very interested in playing with the URL and part of the interest has something to do with the company’s benefit in it.

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