The unthinkable happened: you just deleted the wrong file by accident, and it happened to be a school essay that you spent days working on. If you didn't save a backup of the document on your Chromebook, unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to get that file back. With Windows, the Recycle Bin gives us a second chance to restore a file or folder you deleted from the file manager, but with a Chromebook, the files are permanently erased from your device. It sure looks like the developers at Google have become sympathetic to us accidental-deleters, and are working on a way to bring back recently deleted files.

As spotted recently in the Chrome OS Canary channel, Google is working to bring a new trash folder to your Chromebook, giving you a second chance to restore your file you accidentally deleted from the file manager. If you're eager to try this feature out, you can copy and paste chrome://flags/#files-trash into the URL bar and enable it from the drop-down menu. Then, if you launch the file manager and click "Show hidden files" in the overflow menu, you'll see a new ".Trash" folder on the navigation pane.

chrome os trash can

A preview of the trash feature in the Chrome OS file manager.

The concept of the trash feature is simple. When you delete the picture from the file manager, Chrome OS moves it to the "files" folder inside the trash bin. If I decide to restore the photo, I can easily cut and paste it into my documents. There is another folder inside ".Trash" called "info," which stores information about the picture's original location and a timestamp when deleted.

Offering a chance to restore your files will be a massive deal for a lot of us. A couple of years ago, I accidentally deleted a five-page essay I had to submit that week for school. Several days of research analysis and work had gone down the drain in just a couple of keystroke. One can argue that I was careless, but had Chrome OS offered a second opportunity to restore my document, I wouldn't have spent another few days grumbling and trying to remember the work I've already done. On the bright side, I did learn a bit more on the topic and filled some gaps that were missing in my initial draft.

The trash feature is still very early in its development and needs more work before it's ready for the Chrome OS Stable channel. For example, all of the dialogs say the file will be deleted instead of moving to the trash folder. There also isn't a handy restore button anywhere on the file manager, and I wish the trash info data were merged into "Get info" so I wouldn't have to navigate away from the file. My biggest gripe of the implementation is the lack of an easy way to access the trash folder. Every time I open the file manager, I have to unhide it, which is annoying and hard to discover for new users. To fix the usability issue, Google should always show the navigation pane's trash bin to access it quickly.

Despite its current issues, the Chrome OS trash feature will undoubtedly change how we manage files on our Chromebooks. Offering the chance to restore files will save countless important documents from being accidentally deleted. The trash can is a feature I've been waiting for a very long time, and I'm happy that Google recognizes the need to improve the file management experience.