Master Fullscreen in Chrome with These 3 Extensions

I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to switching between default browsers. Chrome, to my mind, has two things going for it: the expansive ecosystem that it's built, and the backend technology that powers the browser itself, which has propelled the web forward as a platform.

Firefox, on the other hand, keeps me coming back for two reasons: its willingness to be manipulated to my liking and the vastly superior fullscreen mode. Luckily, Chrome users can dramatically improve the fullscreen experience with three add-ons.

By default, Chrome's fullscreen mode is, to put it bluntly, awful. In Firefox, punching ctrl + L puts the cursor in the address bar, allowing you to input any address and be done with it. In Chrome, you must exit fullscreen mode completely to highlight the omnibox- it doesn't allow access to it at all in fullscreen mode.

Firefox also allows direct access to your tabs in fullscreen- just hover your cursor over the top of the screen, and along with the address bar, the tabs are shown. You can even keep them visible at all times by right-clicking on the tab bar and toggling "hide toolbar" off.

Chrome, again, doesn't allow this functionality, and again, you must exit fullscreen mode completely to access tabs with your cursor (although you can scroll through them in fullscreen with the keyboard using ctrl + tab).

Fear not, though: if Chrome is your browser of choice, these three extensions will add all the necessary functionality to your fullscreen experience.


Fauxbar is the most robust of these extensions, so we'll start there. Fauxbar essentially recreates the omnibox experience, so you never actually need to access the omnibox itself. Install the extension, and, by default, it will replace your new tab page. It looks a little utilitarian out of the box, but it's insanely customizable.

The bar along the top of the page gives you access to current tabs and allows you to open a new tab, or a new window. It also gives you access to history, bookmarks, extensions, (even allowing you to enable or disable extensions directly), and Chrome's various settings pages, like downloads, experiments, and the Chrome Web Store.

Fauxbar also mimics Chrome's default new tab page by giving you access both to frequently-visited sites and installed apps. The fauxbar itself, however, is the crucial component. It works just like Chrome's omnibox: just enter an address, hit enter, and off you go. It even shows a dropdown of history and bookmarks, like we've come to expect from traditional browser navigation bars. You'll also notice the search box, which uses Google by default, but can be changed.

And, as I said, Fauxbar is be personalized to an extreme level. In the shot below, I've taken out everything to make a very minimalist experience, added my own background, and tweaked the shadows and colors to match the aesthetic:

Bottom line: Fauxbar gives you access to pretty much everything you could possibly want access to, directly from the new tab page. That's pretty crucial for a good (or even adequate) fullscreen experience.


The next bit of functionality we want to mimic in fullscreen is access to tabs. For this, Veritabs works beautifully. The extension puts your tabs in a sidebar, accessible from any page (with the exception of built-in urls, like the new tab page and chrome://extensions). To use it, just hover your mouse on the left side of the screen (you can change it to the right side in the options), and a list of currently opened tabs will appear. You can resize the sidebar, or shrink them down to just the favicons.

So, once the extension's installed, you don't have to exit fullscreen mode just to get to your tabs list. Now, the only thing left is to get to bookmarks from whatever page you're on.

Neat Bookmarks

Neat Bookmarks, like most other extensions, puts an icon next to Chrome's omnibox. Clicking it will give you access to all bookmarks in your bookmarks toolbar via a dropdown menu, so you can quickly jump to a bookmarked site or execute a bookmarklet.

Of course, that icon doesn't do us much good in fullscreen, so this next feature is where it really comes in handy. I've shown you how to activate Chrome extensions with a keyboard shortcut, as long as the developer of a particular extension added that capability. Luckily, the creator of Neat Bookmarks did just that. Head to Chrome's extensions page and add a custom shortcut. Once you do, Neat Bookmarks can be triggered with that shortcut, so you can launch a bookmarked site with either your mouse or your keyboard. You can also search for bookmarks so you don't have to dig through all of them. You can even launch bookmarklets from the dropdown, so if you want to, say, tweet the page you're on, add it to Pocket, or any other function you've got a bookmarklet for, you can do it without leaving fullscreen mode.

That's it. With the help of these three extensions, Chrome's fullscreen mode becomes not only usable, but even enjoyable.

Fauxbar | Veritabs | Neat Bookmarks

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