Should modern web browsers show the URL or just the site name?

Should modern web browsers show the URL or just the site name? [Poll]

A recent Canary build of Google Chrome replaced the uniform resource locator (URL) of websites with the domain name of the website. So, for example, instead of it would only give you This has sparked an interesting debate about the nature of the web, technology, and usability. URLs are inhuman but they're also a foundational part of the web. So, should they be hidden away to make a simpler, cleaner web, or do they need to be preserved because they functionally matter? Allen Pike sums up where we are today:

More recently, browsers started hiding the URL scheme. http:// was no more, as far as most users were concerned. In iOS 7, Mobile Safari went even further and hid everything about the URL except the domain. With the Chrome "origin chip" change, the URL will move out of the field entirely, to a tidy little button that many users will never even realize is clickable.

There's a school of thought that, while it's not necessarily bad it's happening, Google's motivation is self-serving — continuing the deprecation of the URL to bolster the importance of search. I think that's more canard than Canary. Is there something more empowering and usable than showing the URL, even if it's simply not showing the URL? That's the only question that needs answering.

Personally, like the status bar, I'm okay with the URL not be shown by default as long as I have the ability to turn it on. Those who don't care don't need to know it exists, those who do can find it and make use of it. What do you think? Vote in the poll and tell me why in the comments.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Should modern web browsers show the URL or just the site name? [Poll]


Google has implemented this change in the latest chrome os beta build and its been driving me crazy. I share URLs often I simply want to copy and past them without dealing with the extra steps. I get there trying to be neat. I don't want neat I want productivity

Still, one could argue that you're more productive when the environment is neat and organized. You can still share URL's when they are hidden by the browser, at least in Safari on iOS. No extra steps or anything in my experience.

Correct me if I'm wrong...but can you not simply choose Share from the menu and share it as you see fit?

URLs are an absolute necessity. At a minimum there needs to be a way to enable the URL bar if they want to hide it by default.

Also - without URLs any browser is a non-starter for any corporate environment. Google can't redirect me to internal corporate sites which it has no knowlege of and are behind firewalls.

Finally, I don't trust a web that I can't see the URLs behind it, or enter my own if I desired...

They are not removing the bar. Just the long (mostly) strings of text of the actual URL.
Hiding the text is opt in (off by default), not opt out.

Once opted in, if one wishes to see the entire URL, one simply has to click the button that already contains the current domain.

I personally like how it operates. And, as far as I have seen in the comments so far, Google has made it exactly has everyone has said they would like it.

I agree. Sometimes my browser gets confused and can't find the site, usually it is the difference between http and https. Often it seems to insert one (the wrong one at the time) instead of the other.

I'm fine with it shown the top level domain I'm on, however only if there is some verification done that its not a spoofed URL.

Or an automatic show full url from collapsed url when clicked. Urls are like the old days of computing. Having the full url show up everytime is like having to know your latitude and longitude position to know the address of your house. Things have to become more intuitive without impacting ui efficency.

I agree here. When I'm just looking at the site the bar can just show the domain but if I click into the bar to copy the url it shows me the full url

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That's a great idea actually. I hope something like this is implemented in the future as it can really compensate for a lot, I think.

the majority of computer users today are computer-idiots. They can't tell you the address of the page they're on when it is displayed right across the top. So why change it?

Like you I'm ok with the ability to turn it on or off. At times I want to see the full URL to see exactly where I am and what, if anything is being run.

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For the sake of security at all times, I prefer to see that I am at my intended location instead of a redirect cyber squatter collecting personal information.

No exceptions especially when it comes to a online transaction of any kind. With so much screen "real estate" on devices with high PPI displays to tablets and the mainstream computer these days. I'm willing to sacrifice a few of those pixels for the sake of online security. For those that don't know as much and follow an email link with a page and header that's easily spoofed, he would not only be a victim of not paying attention to clicking odd links but also a cloned site that looks like PayPal or other means of potential online identity theft without even knowing to read if they're truly at or a sly non secure and spoofed but legit looking without even noticing a problem with the domain name.

Attentiveness is key and as old school as they are since the old PDP terminals back when RAND developed what we take for granted, should remain.

Toggle option or not, just for the sake of keeping things "tidy and modern" the supposed hide toggle should be off by default. Showing the URL

It does show that main URL page. What it doesn't show is the "" string that can be so long that it can get annoying. Read my post below that expands on what it does and what people want.

I read through all that last night and there's one easy solution. The basic domain name that is often spoofed in security issues of cloned pages that have complex CSS and JavaScript are not the problem. It's the cloned layout of a page (any major bank has such design) but the fault of the user not noticing the most important part of any re-direct or otherwise.

The long form URL can also be a tempory "handshake" between the real server and the client browser that creates the long string of nonsense but the main domain name that cyber squatters hope you typo into flooded with ads and JavaScript that also can put a browser at risk.

I'd rather be reassured that I'm at than See what I mean? As long as that key host is correct, the substrings and long form URL are options on mobile. On my Mac and Windows systems simply enabling the footer at the bottom of your browser window allows you to mouse over without clicking. It's a great compromise between those nerds like myself that look for potential security risks instead of blindly opening a link from an email I don't know. Having the same email address over ten years, I get my fair share of spam and able to pick real messages from clients than junk that gets past most filters.

For a mobile solution on a touch screen device could be a long press of five seconds or so to see the long form if chosen or if it's a trusted source, a simple tap just as always.

Another thought is possibly shrinking the text just as Safari does on iOS once your proper destination is reached and re-directs still can be seen. I'd like that option in other browsers if Apple allows it.

Most in my family and many friends don't even need the domain. They don't know what they are clicking and never look to the URL if things go wrong....they call me. So from the perspective of the masses there is a slim argument for losing the detail.

But then that doesn't make sense to me because if you are going through the trouble to display the domain then why skimp? Those that use the full URL need the full URL. If you are only trying to add less confusion for my parents then remove the domain as well.

Seems like a change just to be different and not a change that makes any sense. A half pregnant URL is of no use really.

My opinion is everything should be up to the user, eg through option basic and advanced tick boxes. Because after all they are the ones using it.

Oh please NO. As is stated in the poll, URLs are the web and if browsers made it harder to know what the web address is for the webpage your currently on, that would be such a HUGE regression and VERY user unfriendly!

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Having the URL show all the time isn't 100% needed, but it's handy having it there for when you need it.

If it wasn't there I'd find it hard to link to other posts on my blog, or post a link on a Social Networking site that's not supported by the publicise feature. Maybe having a copy address option like in Mibile Safari would be nice from all mobile & desktop browsers.


"...continuing the deprecation of the URL to bolster the importance of search."

Meanwhile, Apple is continuing the deprecation of search.
To bolster the convenience of mobile.

Mobile Safari does it well in my opinion: Domain is shown in address bar, and tapping it expands to full URL.

Many URLs have excessive number of parmeters in them or are totally unreadable mess from some obsolete CMS. In those cases, domain is all the useful info unless debuging the site.

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Agreed. As long as there is a way to reveal and cut/paste the full URL, I'm good. Reminds me of needing to show the full path of a document. It's useful at times, but generally I don't care.

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After install ios 7.1.1 on iphone4 is very slow work . Best ios6 is for iphone4 I request to apple plz return ios6 for iphone4

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I've been using Opera for 2 or 3 years now, and one of my favorite features is the truncated URLs. As more companies and web developers understand the ability of .htaccess, this feature will not be as necessary. Right now, unfortunately, query links include too much ridiculously useless information to the general user.

"Regular users" (those who don't understand what a URL is and how to write one), NEVER USE THE URL BAR. Therefore "fixing" this bit of confusion for "regular users" (the basic premise Google is going after here), is an exercise in futility. The idea that a user will start using the bar because it will be "easier to understand" is fallacious to begin with.

In other words, the presence of the real URL doesn't hurt anything, doesn't affect users who "don't understand it," and actually gets in the way of those who DO understand it and DO need it to be there.

This is 1,000% the wrong move. It won't do anything for anyone but annoy.

It’s not modern browsers; it’s all browsers. URLs should have always been hidden by default, though easy to copy and share.

That said, visible URLs have made it easier to workaround badly implemented web sites. That doesn’t change what the ideal is, though.

I disagree with the wording. It's not that URL's "are the web" it's that how do you know you're in the right place? What if I want to go to the .org instead of the .com? There are some that escape my mind at the moment, but I know there are some where they are different. Most people here would know the difference, but if you've ever done tech support, how many times do you get "It says I'm on (insert fake copy site here).com" as they just Googled it and clicked the ad. Much easier to prove to them they're on instead of, as I think anyone would realise, there will be hacks that'll make it so a scammer like could cheat the browser to say it's twitter. You can't hide it if you see the URL. No need to dumb it down. Except when sharing a link right from Google, that mess needs to go.

Mobile safari and the new chroe build show you that part. (, or, or but not the rest (ie no address for the current specific page. no more /about/media_releases/2012_04_21/We_saved_a_baby_panda)

Hope that clears things up haha.

I didn't know I needed anything cleared up... I'm not confused about how they'll implement it. I don't think it should happen. Point blank period. As 2oh1 said below this post, should a street sign show the actual street name, or just the city name? The URL helps you know where you are. Helps you know if you're on a static page, or one you can't use the back button on. How would I know which section of a page I'm on? The forums, or the normal page? Mobile or Desktop? Helps you get back to places after you've been there too. I'd use reddit as an example. If it just says "" how would anyone know which subreddit they were looking at?

Hope that clears things up.

It also helps you avoid scams. I can assure you, if there was some form of authentication to show iMore instead of "" bad guys would undoubtedly hack it. Then instead of entering my info on, I could be entering it somewhere that looks like it.

Should street signs show your actual location, or just the name of the city you're in? Sounds like a dumb question, right? Well, it's no less dumb than a web browser that only shows the name of the site rather than your actual location on that site. A URL is the web's version of a street sign. In fact, it's more accurate than that, because it is, after all, a web address.

They can have my URLs when they pry them from my cold, dead fingers. URL's provide a wealth of information at a glance - the one for this page tells me the title of the article, many other sites also provide information about when the article was posted, etc. So what exactly is gained by cutting out all this information?

Additionally, having the entire URL available is really valuable for those occasions in which the link is broken because it's been mangled during the cut & paste process - I've often been able to look at a broken link, see the problem, and fix it in the address bar.

Browser makers: please stop fixing things that aren't broken.

There's two sides to this

ONE: I feel this really makes browsing the web less marring especially on mobile devices. I like how safari on the iPhone 5S handles this. WHile scrolling, you can only see the domain ( but if you tap on that, it shows you the entire url, and allows you to edit it or type in a new one altogether.

TWO: It is a huge change. I use URLs to ascertain my location within a website. It tells me what section the current article is in, or which user's page i am at, or what tags were applied to the article i am reading. All this can be relevant information depending on the situation. And with this approach the info is that much harder to get to.

I guess its really a personal preference as to whether this should be the new standard. Perhaps make it optional???

I'm okay with it either way. I just hope that hiding the URL doesn't lead to any malicious fishing opportunities for information pirates. Whenever I'm in doubt, I often check the the URL just to be sure.

Ideally, the URL would be masked but fully visible when clicked on. I wouldn't want browsers to simply implement a "click to copy URL to clipboard" as most iOS apps often do, I prefer being able to see the URL when I need to.

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