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January 12, 2012

Google's Black Navigation Bar Is Back

Google's attempt to simplify the navigation bar wasn't very successful. The menu released six weeks ago is no longer available and it has been replaced with the old black navigation bar.


I tried to see if it was just a temporary bug, but almost all the browsers I tested displayed the black navigation bar. The only browser that still displayed the menu was Chrome, but that was no longer case after clearing the cookies.

Google indirectly confirmed this change two days ago, when the screenshots from a Google blog post included the old bar.

Sometimes, when you try to simplify things, you end up making them more complicated. Navigation elements should be obvious and hiding them in a menu doesn't make them easy to find. The huge menu took more space than the navigation bar and made the homepage less attractive. Hopefully, Google will fix the navigation interface and release a better version.

89 comments:

  1. Just as I had grown used to the new one, the black bar looks ugly again...

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    1. I had the navigation bar until this morning. Now suddenly I have this stupid drop down menu again. It's a right pain in the backside not having the items along the top of the screen, one click away. But, as always, the new will just be foisted upon us, whether we want it or not.

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  2. I never saw the new one for more than a few minutes.

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  3. the new bar has never been deployed officially in france

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  4. Its always been hit or miss for me, sometimes i would see it, other times not, and never with all google sites

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  5. Never seen the new bar (Netherlands)

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  6. That's too bad because I really have gotten used to (and love) the new drop-down menu bar. Guess I was in the minority.

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  7. I got the new social search for a day and even that has disappeared for me. By the way, when do we get the new Blogger threaded comments here? :)

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  8. There was a hack to see the new bar, something with modifying cookies. It still works for me.

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    1. Yup, I still got the menu bar.

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  9. The black bar may be a little ugly but it's way more functional than the big fat new grey one.
    I want space in my browser window to see what I am doing and the black one is good for that because it's so small in height. The other nice thing about the black bar is that it provides "one click" access to other Google products which is ideal. The new one required more effort.

    One thing that would be nice is the option for users to set which items appear in the black bar as currently the ordering of the links changes depending on what Google product you are using.

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    1. I agree 100% with everything you said. For me the new navigation panel cut my productivity. It was nice for a while to see something new, but then it started to upset me. As someone with ADD, and is OCD about UI, I liked the old black bar WAY better. I think they should just give us the option to control the bar to how we would best put it to use. Either by changing its color to what we would like, or adding and rearranging links to what we use most. Also it would be nice if we had the option to add our chrome browser bookmarks some how. They have the tech and they already have our bookmarks if you use chrome. They should make that happen. Those improvements would increase my productivity. which is what google should be trying to do.

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  10. Now if they will do away with the PITA drop down menu for contacts from Gmail.

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  11. Google doesn't launch the new interface yet because is testing different designs: http://goo.gl/yYazN

    And I using the new menu. These are the codecs to test the different designs:

    document.cookie="PREF=ID=03fd476a699d6487:U=88e8716486ff1e5d:FF=0:LD=en:CR=2:TM=1322688084:LM=1322688085:S=McEsyvcXKMiVfGds; path=/; domain=.google.com";window.location.reload();

    document.cookie="PREF=ID=b398b3af2b0d5992:U=eb63443acc6a2b51:FF=0:LD=en:CR=2:TM=1324981364:LM=1324981365:S=jNMKmESVBF2jFW53; path=/; domain=.google.com";window.location.reload();

    document.cookie="PREF=ID=7f70d4c94322f9c4:U=01d7444fa9cd2b84:FF=0:LD=en:CR=2:TM=1324980220:LM=1324980222:S=Z6bz1vcsEfTAN6bL; path=/; domain=.google.com";window.location.reload();

    document.cookie="PREF=ID=6d27c6a598f1fc0c:U=6fbea671724f6767:FF=0:LD=en:CR=2:TM=1324981308:LM=1324981309:S=l5yYxR0K_MMnONeU; path=/; domain=.google.com";window.location.reload();

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    1. I have pasted some of these codes into my firefox&chrome to see the new design,how can i change it back? :)

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    2. I got it,clean the PREF cookie. :)

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    3. No use, it keeps coming back

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  12. I think you should get Google's comment on that before declaring it a fact.
    I still have the bar in Chrome on 2 machines and just managed to make it appear in Firefox.

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  13. I run Gmail accounts and Google Apps domains, I have never see the menu, always the black bar. Was it only available in certain regions? (I am based in The Netherlands)

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  14. Interesting to see this rollback.

    Another thing I guess nobody noticed is the logo size, it was enlarged sometime ago and now it's "medium" again, like old times.

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  15. André Spruit: only on .com and not in apps yet. Still being A/B tested.

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  16. Alex, please update the post, the new bar still appears for me in Firefox.

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  17. The new bar with menu has never been deployed in Brazil. So I never saw it...

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  18. I never saw the bar in the UK, I tried to do the hack to see it yesterday but still got the black bar. I don't see the point of showing all the Google sites on the top bar, that's what bookmarks are for.

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  19. Took a couple of tires but I made it appear in Firefox's private mode.

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  20. I'm still seeing the new bar?

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  21. I notice that the black bar appears in Google Chrome, but not in Internet Explorer. Instead IE shows the Google Logo Button on the left

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  22. I still have the ugly grey bar in Chrome, even after deleting cookies and logging out and back in. Sigh... there was nothing wrong with the black one, Google. Bring it back.

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  23. I prefer just having the "one" bar... The grey area has always been there with Google products, they just consolidated the black bars into the grey area, much better! Gives me more screen space.

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  24. The black bar is not back silly, the new one works perfect on the .com if you delete the coockies from the previous workaround.

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  25. The "black" bar is gray, not black. Albeit a dark gray...

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  26. Cool info in this post thanks for sharing. Will google allow more offline use of its products? Reply with info if you have, thx.

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  27. I think you should have the choice between the old and new. I prefer the new one. It should be in options to switch.

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  28. My wife and I only started seeing the new Nav late yesterday?

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  29. Why do so many people think the grey bar wastes space? The grey bar is mandatory for all designs, it just got more features in the new design. Switch to the black-bar design and you have your grey bar right below the black bar. Only that it isn't unified across services and doesn't include much more than the search bar.

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  30. A sad day, the new menu looks better than the black bar. Luckily I still got it, hopefully Google will let me keep it.

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  31. I have only ever seen the black bar across all my different PCs with Chrome. However, on my Chromebook, I get the new hidden menu navigation. Same account. Go figure.

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  32. I had it whn I was not logged in (UK), but when I logged it it was replaced with the black bar (in a GApps account or one linked to my Hotmail.com email)

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  33. This posting is completely wrong. It was never fully rolled out. It's been in and out and in and out in several different forms. Just today when I went to google.com in Chrome, I had a version of the new dropdown-style heading with the drop-down already pulled out. They are clearly still experimenting with different versions of it. The author should probably check more than one source. We all know that Google has gradual roll-outs and is always testing new things with small groups of users.

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  34. This posting is completely wrong. It was never fully rolled out. It's been in and out and in and out in several different forms. Just today when I went to google.com in Chrome, I had a version of the new dropdown-style heading with the drop-down already pulled out. They are clearly still experimenting with different versions of it. The author should probably check more than one source. We all know that Google has gradual roll-outs and is always testing new things with small groups of users.

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  35. Especially when users never ask for it...

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  36. Just because you don't have the new Google Bar, doesn't mean Google's killed it, it just means you're unlucky. Open an icongnito window and type in google.com/ncr and keep repeating, and sooner or later you'll get it.
    And the new Google Bar is fine. I don't understand your complaints. First, the old black bar takes up teo lines to display what the new Google Bar needs only one line for (Google logo + links to other Google services + search bar all in one). Second, who cares if the other services are harder to access on the new Google Bar? That's what bookmarks are for. The Google Bar is primarily for discovery of new Google services, and rightly should be tucked away under the Google logo until needed, not shouting in your face, "Look at me, I am distracting you from the content of the page by being black while the rest of the page is white!"

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  37. OK, great. So now give us the option to drag/drop the icons the way WE want them to appear or give us some sort of options screen to add/remove the services we use and in which order we want them to appear on the bar.

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  38. Google will become better from Facebook like app menu.

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  39. Really? Strange, I thought the new bar was great. (And it still shows up for me just fine.)

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  40. Well perhaps if they hadnt made it twice as thick as the previous black bar, that would have made more sense. I saw it in Reader for a while, but never in my Gmail.

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  41. ITS NOT BLACK! ITS GRAY!

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  42. Don't post things that you haven't checked first, only from your personal experience. It isn't in accord with you great posts

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  43. Hmm... I sometimes get the old navbar in IE9 but Chrome keeps the new version. All I have to do to get the new navbar is type that code you posted on your blog.

    I like the new version better than the black one, though I'm not a big fan of either.

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  44. What are you talking about? The new Google Bar never rolled out completely. The only way anyone I know got a preview of it was with a cookie change. I still use the new Google Bar in my Chrome browser, and it works fine. Also, the new Google Bar doesn't take up more space!!! The got rid of a bar. How is that taking up more space? I find it gives more space for everything.

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  45. I don't think it depends on your contry, I am in Brazil and have seen it on my desktop pc, but never on my laptop or other computers. Moreover, the new bar never worked on GDocs.

    I think that the new bar is more beautiful, but is less functional, and really lacks the option to be customizable: Agenda is too far.

    What I am curious it the notifications in the new Bar, in many print screens (like in this post) the notifications are green, but for me the always showed red.

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  46. Google needs to stop tinkering ... menu navigation is not rocket science. Just because some new technology comes along to produce a whizzy new menu doesn't mean you have to go out and deploy it.

    Just stop it ... if you want to do something useful, LET ME CONFIGURE my own menu.

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    1. menu navigation might not be rocket science but it is not something that can be taken lightly. google probably has a large group of regular web users who are being consulted for usability of the design and functionality. and it would keep on evolving until they get it right.

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  47. Does anyone know how to disable 'Web History' for Google searches now?

    Is tracking your search/surfing habits via Google an imposed, permanent feature - unless you have a Google acct to manage the privacy invasion?

    I'm using Firefox 9.0.1

    The only other option I've found is an add-on: Google Disconnect 1.1.0
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/gdc/

    ...however, it only blocks Google widgets from sending intel back.

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    1. Go to www.google.com/history and click on Pause. It disables the Web History!

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  48. oh, that's why the new navigation bar only appeared once or twice, then returned to the black one! what's the hitch?

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  49. Great!
    I've had to modify my cookies to keep the old bar
    now I don't have to put in any effort :D

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  50. Just change the color of the Black Bar of Death and call it a day, Google.

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  51. Well thank goodness for this. I live at the end of the Web and my G+ page didn't change because the change never got to me.

    Now, if some enterprising coder would only get me the Black Scroll Bar as a Chrome extension, my life would be on the right track or at least starting in the that direction.

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  52. I really hope this is not true... the black navigation is hideous and the new one is beautiful. Perfect. Give me the new one or I'll switch to bing!

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  53. Never saw it, even with the hack.

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  54. Google has never been good at UI / UX

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    1. great opinion. shame statistics show its the most used search engine, must mean something...

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  55. This is my computer right now. Both Google Plus and Google.com have the new navigation bar. http://i.imgur.com/1VoMO.png

    Google keeps on switching between the two.

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  56. I like the black bar, but want to be able to choose and reorder the items on it: I'd remove photos, sites, and search; and promote reader and news to always-visible status. I suspect each user will have their own preferences here.

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  57. I liked the new nav bar! I wish it would come back. maybe there could be an opt in?

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  58. Newer is always better!

    It must be optional.

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  59. I've never seen the new navbar other than in screenshots. I'm from Brazil.

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  60. It's not on the main search page, but go to another google site and it'll show up.

    https://www.google.com/imghp?hl=en&tab=wi

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  61. Luckily, I never had this dumb new bar. I have some scripts on to make the black bar grey. So I worked with Google for years. If they make this shitty new bar official, then I hide it and use the address bar to switch between services, just like I use my profile page as begin page on Youtube, because the new(google plus) Youtube page sucks.

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  62. http://s10.postimage.org/uqh3svk53/googlebarchromeux.jpg
    Google's Toolbar is working just fine, it's just only in Chrome now.

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  63. (Portuguese)
    Não é verdade.
    A nova barra liberta mais espaço pois a barra de pesquisa sobe para cima, ao contrário do que acontecia antes.
    Não é nada complicado ver produtos Google na barra. Até simplifica.

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  64. I'll be honest, I like the black bar better. Just easier to navigate to me.

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  65. It would be nice to make this bar configurable, so junk that a user never uses can be removed or replaced with something that they would use. Google+ is useless for me, along with Google Video.

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  66. It would be nice to make this bar configurable, so junk that a user never uses can be removed or replaced with something that they would use. Google+ is useless for me, along with Google Video.

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  67. 5 days later, I still see the new look.

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  68. Love the black bar..
    guys is there anyway to make the bar fixed? I want to see that bar at every page. even not related to google.

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  69. I hope the new interface comes back. I like it much more than black bar, which takes space from the screen ALL THE TIME

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  70. Black bar sucks. Hit or miss every day on Chrome & Safari.

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  71. I love it! I hated that drop down. I hope they keep this!

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  72. HOORAY!!! I DESPISED the bloody dropdown. To get to my GCal on the drop down it was a Mouseroll over, slide, sweep, and click. Now it is back to "click" WAHOO!!!!

    Google, just ask next time ;)

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  73. It begs the question 'Just who the hell do Google think they are. I'm tired of being messed about by this over bloated company with its over rated product.

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  74. I know I am late on this, however, it would be the bestest if we could customize the navbar...oh how great that would be!

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  75. This black bar really sucks. Why does google always try to make things worse, harder to use. Whatever happened to "user friendly"?
    Where is my menu bar? There is an option to select it, but it doesn't show up. Why can't I put the tabs below the address bar?
    Good bye Google.

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  76. At this point, I wish they'd just let people chose one or the other. I was soooo happy with the shortly lived NEW new navigation bar. I loved the update - not I miss it. Since they have both, and Google is so good about so many other personalizations, why not just let us have both?

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