Chrome’s downloads bar gets a makeover

by Don Sharpe
Don Sharpe
Don Sharpe
Don has been writing professionally for over 10 years now, but his passion for the written word started back in his elementary school days. His work has been... read more
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  • Google is on the verge of developing a new download feature in Chrome that will help users have an easy time while downloading content.
  • In the new feature, the download button will change colors over time to show the stages of your downloads.
  • The much-awaited new feature is still in development and there has been no communication yet on when it will roll out.
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Those of you who use Google Chrome to browse the web probably aren’t surprised to find downloads in the bottom bar of your browser window. 

However, as more and more users complained about the lack of transparency in this feature, Google decided to make a few changes.

If you’re using Google’s browser to download files, you’re probably aware that the downloads bar can get pretty annoying. The bar appears at the bottom of your screen whenever you start downloading something and stays there until the download is complete.

Google’s latest test release for Chrome Canary comes with a new feature that hides the downloads bar as soon as it becomes inactive. 

In other words, once you start downloading something from the web and see a new item appear in the downloads bar, it will prompt you with two options: either keep it visible or hide it until your download is complete.

New feature

The improvement is simple, yet will likely improve the overall workflow of many users. When you download a file, the downloads icon will appear next to any other extension icons in your toolbar at the top-right side of the browser.

If you click on that icon, a menu will pop up with your most recent downloads. You can then click on an individual download for additional actions like opening the file, copying it to your clipboard, or opening the download folder.

The change in Chrome will replace the toolbar with a bubble that appears directly next to the downloaded file in the browser’s download shelf.

The bubble will expand when clicked to display your most recently downloaded files, enabling the same quick access that the current toolbar provides, as well as displaying the progression on any active downloads.

Downloads button

In an upcoming update, the button will change color and size to reflect the stage of download progress.

From the recent patch, the downloads button will change color and size in reflection of your download progress, with the icon changing from gray to blue while active. 

Rather than changing color based on whether or not the download finished successfully, it now reflects the status of your download.

Google has also been working on moving alerts to the top right of your screen instead of the bottom right. This should help reduce distractions when downloading files, as well as make it easier for users with touchscreen devices to interact with these prompts.

The removal of what is known as the download shelf from the bottom of the Chrome browser seems to confirm Google’s plans both to remove the downloads bar from Chrome entirely and replace it with a more discreet bubble model that does not hog a section of your display.

To be clear, this feature has not been fully implemented and rolled out yet. However, it’s currently accessible via Chrome Canary, a beta version of Google’s popular web browser if you go into settings and toggle a specific flag for it. 

Chrome’s popularity

While Microsoft Edge has many useful features and does not require a disproportionate amount of memory to function well, it is still lagging behind Chrome as the most widely used web browser.

Google’s Chrome browser has been taking inspiration from Edge lately, but Microsoft’s browser still has a small share of the overall market. It appears that Google is paying attention to this recent growth in Edge’s market share.

Microsoft Edge is currently having some growth, the reason could be the design of the downloads bar on Google Chrome takes up an unnecessary amount of screen space, with the entire bar appearing and condensing your browser window even if you’re only downloading a single image.

Google hasn’t shared much on when exactly this new interface is going to be rolled out to users, so we’ll just have to keep a lookout for it and hope that it comes sooner rather than later.

What is your experience with Chrome’s downloads? How would you like it to appear after upgrading? Please share your opinion in the comments section.