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There are several new features and tweaks in Chrome OS 88 that are not yet part of the default 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 chromem://flags in Chrome’s URL bar and hitting enter. Here is a list of flags we recommend trying out.
New flags in Chrome OS 88
- chrome://flags/#mute-notifications-during-screen-share (default)
- chrome://flags/#pdf-viewer-update (default)
- chrome://flags/#omnibox-pedal-suggestions (default)
- chrome://flags/#omnibox-suggestion-button-row (default)
- chrome://flags/#omnibox-experimental-keyword-mode (default)
- chrome://flags/#enable-tab-search (default)
- chrome://flags/#enable-web-authentication-chromeos-authenticator (default)
- chrome://flags/#wifi-sync-android (doesn't work)
- chrome://flags/#enable-desktop-pwas-run-on-os-login (expired)
- chrome://flags/#show-metered-toggle (temporarily expired until 89)
- chrome://flags/#enable-md-rounded-corners-on-dialogs (issues with layer masks)
- chrome://flags/#maintain-shelf-state-overview (issues with resizing windows)
- chrome://flags/#movable-partial-screenshot-region (superseded by capture mode)
- chrome://flags/#webui-tab-strip (wide rollout)
- chrome://flags/#web-ui-tab-strip-tab-drag-integration (wide rollout)
Linux (Beta) pointer fix
Linux (Beta) operates 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 the mouse pointer, necessary when playing Linux games on Chrome OS.
Chrome OS UI tweaks
Want to toggle on some new flags that bring cosmetic changes to the Chrome OS UI? This set of flags will round corners and change other elements.
- A new Chrome flag 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 is now testing adaptive icons to bring consistency to apps on Chrome OS. Enable this Chrome flag to add a circle frame around application 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.
Improve productivity in Chrome OS
Chrome OS has several useful hidden tricks to enhance your 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 essential and recent files.
- This new flag shows thumbnail previews of pinned files, downloads, and screenshots on the shelf. Holding Space will show up to three previews at once; adding more files will remove the taskbar's earliest thumbnail. You can also choose to hide previews by right-clicking Holding Space. Enable this Chrome flag to improve the Holding Space experience.
Chrome OS shows thumbnail previews on the shelf.
- Google introduced a new flag that reworks the screen capture experience on Chrome OS to make it more discoverable, intuitive, and powerful, all while including a brand new screen recorder that supports your Chromebook's native resolution. Enable this Chrome flag to activate the feature.
Google implemented a screen recorder in the new screen capture experience.
- Google will soon add the ability 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 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.
The Chrome OS clipboard shows 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 data access. 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 will show you where the app icon will go after lifting your finger. Enable this flag to improve the app dragging usability in the launcher.
App grid ghost shows you where the app icon will go after lifting your finger.
- 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 its improvements to the launcher.
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 Alt-Tab experience, but for apps that appear on 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.
- Connectivity Diagnostic helps remove the guesswork from network troubleshooting. While it's mostly unfinished, we think its utility is helpful enough to make it worth enabling the flag.
Connectivity Diagnostics app removes the guessing game from network troubleshooting.
- The Diagnostics app offers a basic overview of your device, like displaying its memory size and battery charge cycles. While far from complete, we recommend enabling it because of the useful information it offers.
The Diagnostics app gives a view of your Chromebook's system information.
- The upcoming Scan app for Chrome OS makes digital copies of your physical documents and offers several different scanning options. Note that the PDF file type is unsupported in OS 88. Enable this flag to start scanning your papers.
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.
- Read later helps you stay productive by saving your tabs for a later time. To add websites to your reading list, select "Add to Read later" from the Chrome URL bar's star icon. Enable this flag to activate the feature.
The Reading list allows you to save Chrome tabs for a later time.
- 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.
- 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 term under the cursor when right-clicking it.
- If you 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.
- PWAs are currently limited to 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 Chrome instance, breaking your focus. Enable this Chrome flag to fix links in PWAs.
- Need a certain PWA to launch after clicking on a link? Enabling this Chrome flag will allow you to prefer launching a PWA from your Chromebook.
- 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.
- Live Caption brings Android's machine learning feature to Chrome so you can read dialog without cranking your volume up. Enable this Chrome flag to try out Live Caption on your device.
Live Caption automatically captures and displays speech from the audio content.
Improve scrolling in Chrome
Does scrolling feel rough when browsing through webpages using Chrome? Thanks to Microsoft Edge developers, 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 improve 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 agile than most. There are a few flags you can adjust to help optimize your Chromebook even further.
- Although a few Intel-based Chromebooks have access to hyperthreading, 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 agile and robust, but some people complain about their Chromebook's performance. 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 specific 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.
- Chromebooks with low RAM can run into performance hitches with several Chrome tabs opened in tab groups. Enable this Chrome flag to sleep tabs collapsed inside a tab group, reducing memory usage.
That's about all of the useful flags in Chrome OS 88 that I recommend you try. I cannot wait for these features to roll out to everyone, and I'm excited to see Chrome OS evolve even further in the coming weeks and months.