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There are several additional features and tweaks in Chrome OS 89 that are not yet part of the default experience. They are likely not stable enough for everyone while they're still in development. Google tucked some of these experimental features behind a page — and you can enable them right now. Activate these switches, or "flags," by typing chrome://flags in Chrome’s URL bar and hitting enter. Here is a list of low-risk flags we've tested that we recommend trying out.
New flags in Chrome OS 89
Changes to the flags list:
- chrome://flags/#account-management-flows-v2 - Enable
- chrome://flags/#stylus-battery-status - Enable
- chrome://flags/#enable-quick-answers - Enable
- chrome://flags/#read-later - Disable
- chrome://flags/#spectre-v2-mitigation - Disable (read here first before disabling)
- chrome://flags/#global-media-controls-for-chromeos (default)
- chrome://flags/#screen-capture (default)
- chrome://flags/#scanning-ui (default)
- chrome://flags/#app-service-adaptive-icons (default)
- chrome://flags/#enable-holding-space (default)
- chrome://flags/#holding-space-previews (default)
- chrome://flags/#enhanced_clipboard (default)
- chrome://flags/#ash-limit-alt-tab-to-active-desk (default)
- chrome://flags/#ash-limit-shelf-items-to-active-desk (default)
- chrome://flags/#enable-auto-select (default)
- chrome://flags/#force-preferred-interval-for-video (default)
- chrome://flags/#files-filters-in-recents (removed in future builds)
- chrome://flags/#copy-link-to-text (no longer recommended)
- chrome://flags/#enable-accessibility-live-caption (broken in OS 89)
- chrome://flags/#allow-scroll-settings (expired)
- chrome://flags/#app-grid-ghost (expired)
More details explaining each flag can be found below.
Linux (Beta) pointer fix
Linux (Beta) operates in a container under Chrome OS, giving you access to an extensive selection of Linux apps like Inkscape, Audacity, and Steam. The following flag will help improve the Linux experience.
- Unable to play games on your Chromebook because of 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 flag will round corners and enhance its looks.
- Did you know 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.
- Chrome OS has a new feature that organizes and simplifies account management. Enable this experimental flag to make account setup a lot less of a headache.
Revamped account manager interface.
- It's frustrating to find out about your digital pen's battery is low when you least expect it. To keep track of its battery, you can enable this Chrome flag. Its battery level will show up in your stylus settings, although currently it just shows just high and low power.
Digital pen's battery in the stylus tools
Improve productivity in Chrome OS
Chrome OS has several useful hidden tricks up its sleeves to enhance your productivity.
- 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 a rate-limited network, but it went away due to pending issues. Enable this Chrome flag to bring the toggle back.
- 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.
- Chrome OS 89 launched with better media controls, but it 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. Enable it to gain useful information about your device.
The Diagnostics app gives a view of your Chromebook's system information.
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.
- Chrome OS 89 introduced Quick Answers. While it's turned on by default in most setups, some are still missing out on this useful feature. Enable this flag to get this Chrome OS 89 feature on your system.
- 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.
- If you have a lot of tabs open, it's sometimes difficult to distinguish between them. Enable this flag to show a preview of the web page when hovering your cursor over a Chrome tab, which is useful for quickly finding tabs.
Hovering your cursor over your Chrome tab will show a preview of that tab.
- Chrome OS launches PWAs into a single app window, which is annoying if you want to be productive. 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 manage 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.
- Read later helps you stay productive by saving your tabs for another time, but some prefer a cleaner bookmark bar. We recommend disabling this flag to reclaim your bookmark space.
The Reading list allows you to save Chrome tabs for a later time, but it takes space.
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 Chromebook performance.
Working with a slow machine is 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 that could speed up your Chromebook, but they may introduce security issues.
- Chrome OS disabled hyperthreading on some Intel-based Chromebooks because of an MDS vulnerability with the CPU. Check Cog to see if it disabled a few of its cores. If the performance loss from the deactivated cores is too significant for your use-case, enable the flag to get the cores back - with caution.
- Recent Spectre variant 2 mitigations from Intel reduce the chance of your Chromebook being exploited by malicious actors. However, they could cause significant performance slowdowns on your machine. Deciding between speed or security isn't easy, but if you need better CPU performance, you can disable this Chrome flag — with caution.
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.
- Previously, Chrome caches media content to disk during acquisition and playback. Keeping the disk active increases power consumption and can prevent specific lower-power modes from being engaged. 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 the useful flags in Chrome OS 89 that we recommend trying. I cannot wait for these features to roll out to everyone, and I'm excited to see Chrome OS grow even further in the coming weeks and months.