How to fix: Google Chrome on Linux always launches in full-screen mode

By | May 6, 2020

UPDATE [2020-07-30]: The current version of Chrome has restored the checkbox allowing people to tell Chrome to launch without prompting, so the hack described below is no longer needed.

Executive summary

If you’re using Google Chrome on Linux and it’s stuck in a state where every time you launch it, it starts in full-screen mode, here’s how to fix it without having to recreate your whole Chrome profile from scratch:

  1. Exit from Google Chrome completely (i.e., make sure it isn’t even running in the background) by clicking the three-dots menu (⋮) on the right side of the URL bar and selecting “Exit”.
  2. Run jq 'del(.["browser"]["window_placement"])' < ~/.config/google-chrome/Default/Preferences > /tmp/Preferences && mv /tmp/Preferences ~/.config/google-chrome/Default (this assumes that you have the jq utility installed; if not, then install it first).
  3. Restart Google Chrome, and you should be all set.

More details

On a somewhat regular basis, Google Chrome on Ubuntu Linux gets stuck for me in a state where every time I launch it, it immediately goes into full-screen mode, even if it wasn’t in full-screen mode the last time I exited from Chrome. As far as I can tell, when this occurs there’s no way through the UI to get it to stop doing this.

Just about every time this has happened, it has annoyed me enough that I spent some time Googling for a solution. Unfortunately, the only suggested fix I’ve found is to remove and recreate my Chrome profile from scratch, which is also annoying because then I have to restore all my tabs, log back into everything, etc. Today I finally snapped and decided I was going to take the time to identify the smallest possible change to my Chrome profile that would fix this issue, hence the solution above.

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