How to Enable Chrome Reader Mode

Lose the ads and other distractions with reading mode

Young lady reading news on tablet

Oscar Wong/Getty Images

If you find that ads, sidebars, and pop-ups make webpages harder to read, Chrome has a built-in reader mode you can use: distill page. Distill page strips distracting elements from a webpage, leaving only clean text to read. It's a hidden feature that you can enable on Chrome for Windows.

Here's a look at how to enable distill page, plus some Chrome extensions that will give you the same functionality as distill page — regardless of which type of device or operating system you use.

Don't use chrome://flags to set reader mode

If you're looking to enable reader mode under chrome://flags, this experimental feature is no longer available. Instead, use distill page to enable reader mode in Chrome for Windows. Alternatively, you can use an extension to enable reader mode in all versions of Chrome.

A Few Words About Distill Page (Chrome Reader Mode)

Chrome has a built-in webpage reader mode, called distill page. It's a hidden feature that you need to manually enable (available on Chrome for Windows). If you have a Mac, skip to the next section for some extensions you can use. These will give you the same functionality as using distill page.

Keep in mind that you can always use an extension to get the same functionality as distill page, regardless of which operating system you use (Windows, Mac, etc.). In some cases, you may find it easier to install an extension instead of manually updating Chrome to enable distill mode.

How to Set up Distill Page (Chrome Reader Mode) for Windows

  1. Before starting, make a copy of your Chrome icon so you have a backup. You can do this by right clicking the Chrome application in the Programs menu, then copying and pasting the application to another location.

    If you wish, you can keep two copies of the Chrome icon. For example, one with distill page enabled, and one without.

  2. To set up distill page in Chrome, you'll need to dig into a couple menus. To start, right-click on your Chrome shortcut to reveal Chrome options.

    Right click Chrome icon
  3. Next, right click on Google Chrome to reveal the Properties menu. Then, select Properties.

    Select Chrome properties
  4. In the Properties window, add -enable-dom-distiller to the end of Target field. For example, the Target field should read:

    “C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” –enable-dom-distiller

  5. When you've finished updating the target field, click OK. Then close and re-open Chrome for the setting to take effect.

  6. Distill page should now be a visible option in the Chrome menu (click the three vertical dots in the upper right hand corner of your browser to reveal the menu).

How to Use Distill Page (Chrome Reader Mode)

To use distill page, go to the webpage you wish to read. Then, select Distill page from the top right menu. The page should display in reader mode, i.e. stripping away unwanted elements and leaving only text. To go back to the original page, hit the back button.

Note that distill page works best on pages that have a lot of text content. If you apply distill page to a website that's mostly images or videos, you might not get the results you're after.

How to Enable Chrome Reader Mode on a Mac

If you're looking to enable reader mode under chrome://flags, this experimental feature is no longer available. Instead, use a Chrome extension to enable reader mode.

If you're a Mac user (or just prefer to use an extension over distill page), there are several extensions that will allow you to view pages in reader mode. These extensions are designed to remove distracting and unnecessary elements from a webpage, giving you a better reading experience on any device.

  • Reader View: Strips away distracting elements like images and buttons, and changes a webpage's text size, contrast, and layout for better readability.
  • Just Read: Removes ads, pop-ups, comments, and more. It also allows you to use dark and light themes (good for hard to read websites), as well as apply your own custom styling to web pages.
  • Just Read Premium: Similar to Just Read, this version is packed with additional features for a fully customizable viewing and reading experience on Chrome.
  • DOM Distiller Reading Mode: Removes things like images, sidebars, pop-ups, and other distracting elements from a webpage.