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There are several new features and tweaks in Chrome OS 87 that are not yet part of the default Chrome OS experience. They are likely not stable enough to be enabled for everyone while they're still in development. Some of these experimental features are tucked behind a page where they can be manually switched on or off. You can find these switches, or "flags," by typing chrome://flags in Chrome’s URL bar and hitting enter. Here is a list of flags we recommend trying out.
New flags in Chrome OS 87
- chrome://flags/#enable-cros-language-settings-update (default)
- chrome://flags/#enable-notification-indicator (unstable in 87)
- chrome://flags/#enable-background-blur (expired)
- chrome://flags/#trim-on-memory-pressure (default)
- chrome://flags/#intensive-wake-up-throttling (default)
- chrome://flags/#enable-service-worker-on-ui (default)
- chrome://flags/#ntp-realbox-match-omnibox-theme (expired)
- chrome://flags/#bluetooth-fix-a2dp-packet-size (removed)
Android Wi-Fi sync
A tweak that brings a useful Wi-Fi sync feature to your Chromebook.
- Do you constantly forget network passwords that you've used to connect your Android phone? Enable this Chrome flag to sync Wi-Fi network configurations between your Chromebook and your phone so you don't have to remember your complicated passwords.
Linux (Beta) pointer fix
Linux (Beta) is an operating system that runs in a container under Chrome OS, giving you access to a large selection of Linux apps like Inkscape, Audacity, and Steam. The following flag will help to improve the Linux experience.
- Unable to play games on your Chromebook due to the frustrating cursor? Enable this Chrome flag to allow Linux applications to request exclusive use of the mouse pointer. This is necessary when playing Linux games on Chrome OS.
Chrome and Chrome OS UI tweaks
Want to toggle on some new flags that bring cosmetic changes to the Chrome and Chrome OS UI? This set of flags will round corners and change other elements.
- A new Chrome flag that decouples the media controls from the notification tray and places them in the Chrome OS shelf settings to keep more of your critical notifications in view. Enable this flag to save precious notification space.
The new Chrome OS global media controls move the media notifications into the shelf settings.
- Google overhauled the built-in PDF viewer in Chrome 87 to give it modern features, such as an updated UI, table of contents, thumbnails, two-up view, and the ability to view annotations but it's yet to roll out to Chrome OS. Enable this flag to bring the Chrome 87 feature into your Chromebook.
A look at the revamped PDF viewer in Chrome 87, coming soon to Chrome OS.
- Google is now testing adaptive icons to bring consistency to apps on Chrome OS. Enable this Chrome flag to bring adaptive launcher icons to Chrome OS, which adds a Pixel-esque white dinner plate to the icons.
Adaptive icons add a circle shape to app icons. Left: default. Right: flag enabled.
- Did you know that rounded corners are easier on your eyes than sharp edges? Rest your eyes a bit by enabling picture-in-picture rounded corners.
Rounded corners make picture-in-picture look much nicer.
- Enable this Chrome flag to change the corner radius of the dialogs to be slightly more rounded.
- Are you bothered by how much the shelf moves upwards when viewing your windows in overview mode? Enable this Chrome flag to keep the shelf where you swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
The shelf won't move when swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
Improve productivity in Chrome OS
Chrome OS has several hidden tricks that can be used to enhance productivity.
- Google is experimenting with a new feature that provides quick access to screenshots, recent downloads, and pinned files through Chrome OS Shelf. Enable this Chrome flag to kickstart your productivity.
Holding Space provides quick access to important and recent files.
- This Chrome flag brings massive usability improvements to the partial screenshot experience. Enable this Chrome flag to resize or move the partial screenshot selection before taking a snapshot.
Movable partial screenshot makes capturing a snippet of your screen less frustrating.
- Frustrated about not being able to adjust your mouse and touchpad scroll sensitivity? Enable this Chrome flag to show settings that enable or disable scrolling sensitivity for the touchpad and mouse. You can also adjust the sensitivity.
- Want to save vertical space in the file manager's navigation pane? Enable this Chrome flag to convert the media type buttons from the navigation pane into file-type filters in Recents. To learn more about this feature, check out our awesome coverage on it.
Save vertical space in the file manager by turning media type buttons into filters.
- Want a quick and easy way to see a list of things you copied on your Chromebook? Enable this new Chrome flag to bring an experimental clipboard manager to Chrome OS. After copying text or photos to the clipboard, pressing Search + V will show the clipboard. Selecting from the menu will paste the content to the active window.
A convenient way to see a list of things copied on your Chromebook.
- Your Chromebook gives you different options for connecting to the web, but not every network provides unlimited access to data. Chrome OS used to let you specify if a network was metered or not, but it went away due to pending issues. Enable this Chrome flag to bring the toggle back.
- When dragging an app around in the launcher app drawer, an outline of where the app icon will be placed when you let go can be added. Enable this flag to improve the app dragging usability in the launcher.
App grid ghost shows you where the app icon will be placed after lifting your finger.
- Let's be honest, moving apps to different pages in the Chrome OS launcher feels slippery and unpolished. To improve the launcher's usability, Google is working on a new paging UI, making it easy to see where your app icons are going when moving them around. Enable this Chrome flag to see some of the improvements the developers are working on.
Launcher app paging makes dragging apps to different pages less frustrating.
- The current Alt-Tab experience can be annoying, especially when several applications open across multiple virtual desks. Enable this Chrome flag to limit Alt-Tab to the active desk.
- Similar to the current Alt-Tab experience, but for apps that appear in the shelf. Enable this Chrome flag to limit shelf apps to the active desk.
- Currently, Chrome OS doesn't offer a quick and easy way to activate picture-in-picture. Enabling this Chrome flag puts a picture-in-picture button in the media controls so you can quickly break videos out into a floating window.
- Prefer not to set your Chromebook to developer mode to test the Web Authentication API? Enable this Chrome flag to activate the Chrome OS platform authenticator without having to powerwash your Chromebook.
- Want your PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) to launch automatically on startup? Enable this Chrome flag to launch your PWAs automatically after you log into your account. You should see a new checkbox in the PWA installer dialog to opt into this feature.
Chrome productivity enhancements
Google Chrome is naturally the tightly integrated default web browser in Chrome OS. Here is a list of flags that enhance the web browsing experience.
- Google recently announced Chrome Actions, a new feature in Chrome 87 that offers a fast and straightforward way to control Chrome from the browser's address bar. The feature is rolling out to most Chromebooks in the coming week, but if you don't want to wait, enable this flag along with chrome://flags/#omnibox-suggestion-button-row and chrome://flags/#omnibox-experimental-keyword-mode.
Chrome Actions offer a quick way to control Chrome from the address bar.
- This new Chrome flag adds a "copy link to text" entry in the context menu, allowing users to copy a link to the page with the select text highlighted. Enable this feature to make it easier to copy links from webpages.
- Notifications can be distracting if they pop up while sharing your screen. Enable this Chrome flag to prevent new notifications from showing up.
- Google is experimenting with a window naming feature in Chrome that makes it easier to organize your workflow. Enable this flag and right-click Chrome's title bar to customize each Chrome window's name.
Rename Chrome windows to help you organize your workflow.
- Currently, Chrome makes you click and drag to select a word on a webpage. Enable this Chrome flag to autoselect any word under the cursor when right-clicking it.
- If have a lot of tabs open, it's sometimes difficult to distinguish between them. Enable this Chrome flag to show a preview of the web page when hovering your cursor over a tab, which is useful for quickly finding tabs.
Hovering your cursor over your Chrome tab will show a preview of that tab.
- Tab search can help you easily find pages when the tab strip is a mess. Enabling this Chrome flag will add a handy dropdown arrow next to the New tab icon so you can easily search for the tab you need. This flag is best paired with chrome://flags/#enable-tab-search-fixed-entrypoint.
Find your tabs in a snap with tab search.
- Currently, Chrome only allows PWAs to be opened in a single window, which can be a bit annoying if you want to be productive with them. Enable this flag to add Chrome's tab strip to PWAs to help speed up your workflow with multiple Chrome tabs.
Tabbed PWAs in Chrome OS makes it easier to multitask.
- Currently, launching a new tab in a PWA will create a new instance of Chrome, breaking your focus. Enable this Chrome flag to fix links in PWAs. This feature is best paired with the flag above.
- Need a certain PWA to launch after clicking on a link? Enable this Chrome flag to show a checkbox to always launch your PWA.
- If you find yourself managing your Google Account often, enable this Chrome flag to put a convenient shortcut to your Google account settings on the Chrome toolbar.
Avatar toolbar button in Chrome provides easy access to your Google account.
- Having trouble hearing what people are saying on your screen? Live Caption brings Android's machine learning feature to Chrome so you can read dialog without cranking your volume all the way up. Enable this Chrome flag to try out Live Caption on your device.
Live Caption automatically captures and displays speech from audio content.
Optimize Chrome for tablet mode
Google has been working hard on delivering a better tablet mode experience for Chromebooks. One key area of improvement is bringing a better touch experience to Chrome. While this feature rolled out to Chromebooks in Chrome OS 86, some people still see the old, bulky design. Enable the following flags to make Chrome easier to use in tablet mode.
WebUI tab strip enhances the tablet mode experience.
- This Chrome flag completely overhauls the Chrome UI to be more touch and gesture focused when your Chromebook is set to tablet mode. Instead of the cumbersome tabs that take up vertical space, the new WebUI tab strips tuck them behind a convenient button reminiscent of the Chrome tab UI on Android. Alternatively, you can swipe down from the top to reveal your tabs. Enable this flag to improve the Chrome tablet mode experience in Chrome.
- This Chrome flag brings better integration to Chrome OS by allowing you to drag tabs out of Chrome while your Chromebook is using WebUI tab strips. Enable this flag to improve the tab dragging experience.
Improve scrolling in Chrome
Does scrolling feel rough when browsing through webpages using Chrome? Thanks to the developers of Microsoft Edge, the scrolling experience will be much smoother with these flags enabled.
- This Chrome flag changes the touch inertia in Chrome to behave similarly to Microsoft's Edge browser. Enable it to smooth the flinging experience.
- For the next step in porting Microsoft Edge's scrolling improvements into Chrome, the Edge developers introduce percent-based mouse scrolling. This system fixes an issue where free-floating scroll wheels (like on a Logitech MX Master) would not correctly scroll. Enable it to fix the free-floating scroll on Chrome OS.
- Impulse scroll animations are a new system to change the dynamics of the scroll momentum. Enable this Chrome flag to make scrolling feel more responsive on your Chromebook.
Impulse scroll animation changes the scroll momentum. Left: with impulse scroll animation. Right: without impulse scroll animation.
Get better performance on Chrome OS
Working with a slow machine can be frustrating, especially when the battery doesn’t last very long. One of your Chromebook's strengths is its lightweight nature, making the system feel more nimble than most. There are a few flags you can adjust to help optimize your Chromebook even further.
- Although hyperthreading was switched on for a few people using an Intel-based Chromebook, it's still disabled on some devices thanks to an MDS vulnerability with the CPU. You can manually enable hyperthreading with this Chrome flag, but Chrome OS will force it off even with this flag enabled if you launch Linux (Beta).
Improve Chrome's performance
The Chrome web browser is designed to be agile and robust, but some people complain about its performance on their Chromebook. These sets of flags should slightly improve Chrome's performance.
- Sluggish video calling performance? Previously, the display compositor would be updating more frequently than the video stream. This Chrome flag resolves the composition rate to adjust based on the video’s actual framerate. Enable it to improve WebRTC performance while saving battery.
- Previously, media content was cached to disk during acquisition and playback. Keeping the disk active during this process increases power consumption and can prevent certain lower-power modes from being engaged in the operating system. Enable this Chrome flag to prevent caching certain media content to disk to improve battery life.
- Running into performance hitches when you have several Chrome tabs opened in tab groups? Enable this Chrome flag to optimize Chrome's performance by sleeping the tabs inside a tab group after collapsing it.
That's about all of the useful Chrome flags I found in Chrome OS 87 that I recommend you try. I personally cannot wait for these features to roll out to everyone, and I'm excited to see Chrome OS evolve further every day.