Google brings Material You-style color themes to the Chrome desktop

The latest Canary version of Google Chrome includes a cool feature that automatically selects a color scheme for the browser based on the wallpaper displayed when you open a new tab. The feature was first spotted by u/Leopeva64-2 on Reddit, which shows how changing the new tab wallpaper automatically adjusts the address bar and interface color scheme of the browser. It was previously possible to manually change Chrome’s color scheme to one of your choice, but this simplifies the process.

According to Google’s software, the feature “allows you to set the theme color based on the background image color when the background image is changed in the New Tab page”, and is available on Mac, Windows, and Linux, as well as Google’s ChromeOS and Fuchsia operating systems.

We were able to enable the “Customize Chrome Color Extraction” feature in Chrome Canary version 110 (specifically 110.0.5418.0) to test it ourselves. It seemed to work better with more colorful wallpapers, whereas darker backgrounds tended to make Chrome’s interface a muddy black, brown or gray – not much of an improvement over its game default colors. We were able to get it to work with Google’s own wallpapers, although the automatic color theme option didn’t work when we uploaded our own image. It is unclear if this is a bug or by design.

The feature is not enabled by default. Instead, if you want to try it out, you’ll need to enable the Chrome flag “chrome://flags/#customize-chrome-color-extraction”. Once it’s enabled, open a new Chrome tab, click the pen icon at the bottom right of the new tab window, and select a new wallpaper to see its color scheme reflected in the interface of Chrome. Once you select a wallpaper, the color scheme persists across different tabs as you browse the web.

It’s unclear if or when the feature will roll out more widely, but given that it’s currently an opt-in feature on the Canary version of Google Chrome (which is the first beta version of its software), we don’t expect it to get widespread release for at least a few months.


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