Chrome 101 lost drive mode, but it’s back

Google has been testing a reader mode in Chrome for some time, which hides page elements outside of the main text. The option mysteriously disappeared in the latest Chrome 101 update, but it’s coming back.

Firefox, Safari, and other web browsers offer reader mode or simplified view, but Chrome still doesn’t officially have the same option. Chrome developers have been working on the feature, which can only be accessed by enabling a feature flag – one of many hidden browser options intended for use by web developers or people testing the latest Chrome tweaks .

Chrome with reader mode enabled
Chrome with reader mode enabled

The required flag for reader mode disappeared in the latest Chrome update, version 101, which left at least a few people confused. Luckily, it doesn’t appear that Reader Mode is removed. Chrome flags have a built-in expiration date, which Google extends if a given feature isn’t ready yet (or isn’t ready to be removed). The flag for reader mode was configured to expire in chrome 100so when Chrome 101 started rolling out, the feature was inaccessible. Google extended the flag to at least Chrome 104 in March, but this change apparently did not make it into the stable v101 release.

If you were using drive mode and want to get it back at present, there is only one more step to take. Follow our guide on enabling Reader Mode, but before you search for “Reader Mode”, find “Temporarily Unexpired M100 Flags” and set it to “Enabled” first. Once this is done and you allow Chrome to restart when prompted, the reader mode flag will once again be available in the flags page.

"Temporarily unexpired M100 flags" option

The other option is to install chrome beta, which is currently on Chrome 102 and has the player mode indicator accessible without any additional steps required. Chrome 102 will roll out to the stable branch at the end of May. It’s still unclear when or if Google will roll out Reader Mode to everyone without the need to enable feature flags.

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