Our favorite Chrome OS 93 flags you should try on your Chromebook
Chrome OS 93 arrived for Chromebooks on Tuesday of last week, and it’s packed with quality-of-life polish to help you enjoy your Chromebook even more. There are several additional features and tweaks that are not yet part of the default experience — including four that we detailed earlier this week. That’s because they’re still in development and need further refinement before being made available for millions of Chromebook users around the globe. Google has hidden these work-in-progress Chrome OS features behind a page in the Chrome browser, where you can set “flags” to toggle them on and off at will. Just take your time and be wise enough not to enable them at random — the wrong one could render your device unusable.
With this guide, we’ll show you the best hidden features with a low risk of instability that we’ve tested extensively and recommend turning on now. Activate them by copying and pasting the following URLs (in bold) into Chrome’s URL bar and hitting enter.
Changes to our recommended Chrome flags list:
- chrome:flags#ash-overview-button (enable only if using a non-Chrome OS keyboard)
- chrome:flags#stylus-battery-status (enabled by default)
- chrome:flags#playback-speed-button (enabled by default)
- chrome:flags#enable-launcher-app-paging (enabled by default)
- chrome:flags#show-metered-toggle (expired)
There are more flags we recommend below, along with details that explain what each flag does. For those who want a simplified list of the flags, check out this text file you can download here.
The following is a list of fun but experimental flags we recommend for those itching to test upcoming Chrome features with low risk of instability. Although considered safe for daily use, your experience may differ. Android Police and Google are not liable for lost data, unstable sessions, and other damages caused by enabling Chrome flags. Remember to hit the “Reset all to default” button on the Chrome flags page if something odd happens and make frequent backups of your session so you lose nothing. Enable these flags with caution.
Want to toggle on some new flags that bring cosmetic changes throughout Chrome OS? These flags will round corners and enhance the platform’s looks.
Chrome receives a fresh coat of white paint in its preferences page.
- Google is testing a refreshed media controls UI that adapts to the video thumbnail’s primary colors. To make its design less drab on Chrome and Chrome OS, enable the modern UI flag.
New media controls UI appearing on the Chrome OS shelf.
Show the date on the Chrome OS system tray.
- For almost a year, Google has been working on decoupling categories away from the file manager’s navigation pane and merging them into Recent as file-type filters. By enabling this Chrome flag, the file manager will look less cluttered, allow you to show more of your folders in the navigation pane.
A flag turns Audio, Images, and Videos categories into file-type filters.
Productivity enhancements and features
Chrome OS has a number of useful hidden tricks up its sleeves to enhance your multitasking capabilities on your Chromebook. These include varying productivity enhancements, features, and important fixes.
- Google announced a new Tote feature coming later this year that will make managing downloads so much easier, and with little effort on your end, you can try this one out right now. Enable this feature to add your file’s download status and two additional recent downloads into Tote.
A solid upgrade to Tote makes managing your recent downloads much easier.
- To help you work even faster, Chrome OS is picking up Focus Follows Mouse in a future update, a classic window management feature commonly used by many back in the day that allows you to copy and paste text from a webpage into a document with no extra clicks. Enable this feature to give your Chromebook the old-school coolness you never knew you needed.
Up your copy-paste game with Focus Follows Mouse.
- Chrome OS allows you to add virtual desks to organize multiple windows and multi-task. Sadly, few take advantage of this feature — and Google wants to change that. Enable this feature to try out a new experiment that adds a persistent bar on the top to keep your desks front and center.
Chrome OS puts your virtual desks front and center to help keep your tasks organized.
- Google is adding a small but important ergonomic change to the Chrome OS taskbar that allows you to pin active apps by dragging it past the divider to the rest of your pinned apps. Enable this feature to try out this improvement.
Pinning apps is as simple as dragging them past the divider to the rest of your pinned apps.
- People often archive to save space, and while common formats like .zip or .rar are good enough for the job, some prefer the extra flexibility or compression options offered by other file types (e.g. .7zip, .bz2, and more.). Enable this flag to add multiple archive support directly into the Chrome OS file manager.
- Google is giving Quick Answers a nice feature upgrade to make finding answers even easier. By enabling this flag, Quick Answers will leverage Google search (as opposed to Assistant), do unit conversion, and translate words. You’ll also be able to switch Quick Answers on or off in system preferences along with its individual capabilities.
You can switch Quick Answers on or off in system preferences along with its individual capabilities.
- It’s outright frustrating to remember which function key on your keyboard activates the overview, especially when you’re trying to get work done. Enable this flag to add a convenient shortcut on the taskbar to expose your open windows. We recommend enabling this feature only if you’re using a non-Chrome OS keyboard.
- It’s an inconvenience to launch your frequently used apps every time you restart your Chromebook. By enabling this feature, your Chromebook will be able to relaunch all the windows you had opened previously, including your Chrome tabs and Android apps.
Chrome OS restores Android and Chrome apps upon signing in.
- If you have multiple Android apps on screen when you restart your Chromebook, their windows will display a fancy loading animation while waiting for Android to finish initalizing. Enable this Chrome flag along with the full restore flag from above to see the pre-load app windows.
- Virtual Desks on Chrome OS are a terrific way to multitask — it’s like having the benefit of dual monitors on a single screen. However, if you have a Chrome window opened on one virtual desktop, clicking its icon on the taskbar will (annoyingly) switch you to that workspace. Enable this Chrome flag to limit items on the taskbar to the ones associated with windows on the active virtual desktop.
Chrome OS will limit taskbar items to their windows on the active desktop.
- A common gripe that many have with their dual-monitor setup on Chromebooks is that windows and apps launch only on the primary display — forcing you to drag and drop windows to the secondary screen. Enabling this Chrome flag will allow windows to open on the display where your cursor is.
- With much of the world working remotely from home these days, many of us are still relying on video calls to communicate with our family, friends, and colleagues. You can take your audio quality to the next level with noise cancellation — so long as you have the right external hardware. Enable this Chrome flag to allow toggling input noise cancellation through the Quick Settings.
- We’ve all made that dreaded mistake of deleting the wrong file by accident. By default, Chromebooks doesn’t provide a way to restore the file or folder you removed. Enable this Chrome flag to add a trash folder to the file manager, which functions similar to the ever-iconic Recycle Bin found on Windows.
The trash folder in the Chrome OS file manager.
- PWAs are inching a step closer to feeling native with app shortcuts. While the feature became available for Chrome and Edge last year, it lacked support for Chrome OS. Enable this Chrome flag to get PWA app shortcuts for Chromebooks.
App shortcuts for Twitter on Chrome OS.
- Currently, the Chrome OS shell runs in the browser, which can add clutter to your Chrome tabs. Enable this Chrome flag to run it as a tabbed system web app.
Chrome OS shell running in a tabbed system web app
- Troubleshooting network issues on our devices can be quite annoying, especially if we’re unable to search online for answers. If you enable this hidden Chrome flag, Diagnostics will have a new networking section that will help eliminate the guessing game from connectivity troubleshooting.
Check your network connectivity directly from the Diagnostics app.
- Sharing a block of text you’ve found online is a hassle, especially if it’s hard to find on a particularly long webpage. By enabling this flag, you can create a link that takes you directly to that text. Highlight a selection of words, right-click, and select “Copy link to highlight.”
- Google’s Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) is part of its Privacy Sandbox, a new suite of tools to replace the conventional third-party cookie tracking that traditionally powers advertising on the web. Google has made good on its promise to offer a manual toggle for its FLoC for those concerned about it, which you can access by enabling this flag. You’ll see a new option under Privacy Sandbox in Chrome settings to toggle off FLoC.
With the above Chrome flag, you’ll be able to disable FLoC under Privacy Sandbox.
- Permission requests for things like notifications can be intrusive and distracting. Enable this Chrome flag to activate a more modern, less annoying permission prompt.
Permission requests are a lot less annoying with the new design.
- 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 all 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. Then, right-click its icon on the taskbar and select “New tabbed window” under “New window.”
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.
- For the next step in porting Microsoft Edge’s scrolling improvements to Chrome, the Edge developers are introducing 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.
Performance and battery
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 improve the performance and battery of your Chromebook even further.
- Anyone with a Chromebook knows its tablet mode experience could definitely use a ton of work. As things are now, dragging the window divider causes severe UI lag, screen tearing, and flashes, even on a high-end machine. But if you enable this flag, resizing will feel less sluggish thanks to optimizations added by this experiment.
- Phone Hub was a big deal when Google launched it with Chrome OS 89 a few months back, bringing the cross-device synergy that Android and Chromebooks fans have been waiting for. The launch didn’t go smoothly at all, however, with many reporting bugs like severe Android battery drain that outweighs any reason to use it. Enable this flag to make a more efficient connection between your Chromebook and Android smartphone.
- Chrome OS disabled hyperthreading on a few older 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.
- 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.
Improve Linux for Chrome OS
Linux operates in a container under Chrome OS, giving you access to an extensive selection of Linux apps like Inkscape, Audacity, and Steam.
- 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.
That’s about all the useful flags in Chrome OS 93 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.
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