On most desktop platforms, when you put Chrome into fullscreen, you can access your tabs and the omnibox by moving your mouse to the top of the screen. Unfortunately, since last July, this simple gesture has not worked on Mac, but Google is finally getting around to fixing Chrome’s fullscreen mode.
For the past few years, Google has been making some fundamental changes to the way Chrome works on Mac by switching away from their Cocoa-based code to an implementation called MacViews, which is designed to let new features require less work to bring to Mac.
As this was such a fundamental change to the app, many things needed to be rebuilt from scratch. Some things, unfortunately were missed, like accessing your toolbar, tabs, or the omnibox while in either of Chrome’s fullscreen modes (Ctrl-CMD-F and Shift-CMD-F).
Despite many user complaints, Google did not consider this a critical bug, as you could just toggle fullscreen mode again to switch tabs or use the omnibox. This was obviously not a permanent solution, as it breaks your focus. To get a feel for how fullscreen mode should work on Chrome for Mac, check out this video preview of an earlier work-in-progress version of the feature.
Google is finally fixing what they call “immersive” fullscreen mode in a new commit posted to the Chromium Gerrit source code management. To get early feedback, Google will launch the feature behind a flag, as only the bare minimum has been developed so far. Some key features are missing, like letting the toolbar always be visible and smooth animations to show the toolbar.
Mac users who miss this “immersive” fullscreen experience from older versions of Chrome should be able to try it out in the coming weeks by using Chrome Canary and watching for the #enable-immersive-fullscreen-toolbar flag in chrome://flags.