Chrome OS 88 is officially available for all users and with this update came a set of useful new features such as tab search and the all-new Chromebook screensaver. While there are plenty of shiny new gems to play with, there are some hidden features in Chrome OS 88 that you can enable with very little effort and enjoy and add to your Chromebook toolbox. We’ve covered each of these features at some point as they moved their way up from the Canary channel but now, you can enable each of them in the Stable channel with just the flip of a switch. Robby put together a quick video to highlight these hidden features and show you how to enable them now in Chrome OS 88. Check it out.
Caveats do apply here. Accessing these new features requires you to enable “experimental” flags on your Chrome OS device. You can do so by heading to
chrome://flags on your Chromebook or Chromebox. Keep in mind that these are experimental and as you may notice on the flags page, that comes with a warning. These flags, in particular, have been tested by our team on numerous occasions and we use some of them regularly. They are very stable and appear to be working as the developers intended. That said, you may experience a hiccup here or there. If you find one of these flags to be unstable, you can simply head back to the Chrome flags page and select “reset all” to set everything back to default. When you enable or disable a flag, remember to save any work you may have open as Chrome will prompt you to restart the browser and anything you may have open will be lost. Ready? Okay, moving on.
Printing has come a long way on Chrome OS over the past few years but Google has recognized the need for more built-in features for all-in-one devices. The ability to scan from a Chromebook once required installing an Android app or heading to the printer’s IP address and even then, the results were hit or miss. With the new Scanning UI, any network-connected printers that work with your Chromebook and are capable of scanning will now show up as an option to scan documents. I’ve tried this on a handful of HP printers as well as an Epson and it works very well. There’s still some work to be done before users can save to a PDF but for now, you can still save your scans as an image file. The Scanning tool even recognizes the available options of your specific printer such as DPI options and whether or not you have a flatbed, feeder, or both. To turn on the new scanning tool, go to
chrome://flags and search for “scanning UI.” Alternatively, you can just point your browser to
chrome://flags/#scanning-ui and then, restart Chrome. Your scanning tool will now show up in your app launcher and the system settings menu.
When the “read later” or reading list feature first popped up, we really weren’t sure what would differentiate it from the traditional bookmarks we see in the Chrome browser. However, this handy little add-on is actually very useful for adding content to a saved space to be consumed later without cluttering up Chrome’s bookmark bar. With this flag enabled, you can click the bookmark star icon in the Omnibox or head to the bookmarks tab of Chrome’s settings and now you will have the option to create a bookmark or add to your reading list. Once added to the reading list, is a quick way to return to saved webpages and quickly mark them as read or simply delete them to take them off of the list. To enable, head to the Chrome flags page and search for “reading list” or point your browser to
chrome://flags/read-later. Restart your browser and you now have a nice little folder on the far–right side of your bookmarks bar.
Screen Capture Test
We’ve been tracking the new Chrome OS screen capture and recording tool for months but Google has finally made an official announcement about the feature. In an effort to better equip educators and students, the revamps screenshot tool will begin rolling out with the next major update to Chrome OS that is slated for the beginning of March. The new screen capture tool adds a ton of new functionality to the in-built screenshot feature that we’re all familiar with in Chrome OS. Once enabled, the traditional Ctrl+ F4(overview key) will still take a full screenshot but pressing the partial screenshot key will present you with a brand new set of tools.
You can now move your screenshot around and resize it to get exactly what you want in the image instead of having to crop the photo on the back end. More importantly, the new tool offers the ability to take screen recordings of your entire screen, select windows, and even take partial recordings of a specific section of your display. If you head to the Chrome flags page and search “screen capture” you will see the flag. You can also point your browser to
chrome://flags/#screen-capture and it will be right at the top front and center for you to enable. Enable that flag, restart Chrome and now your new screen capture tool is ready at your command.
These hidden tools in Chrome OS 88 are exceptional features to enhance your workflow and I’d recommend giving them a try if you find yourself needing these kinds of tools on a regular basis. It will be a little over a month before we see Chrome OS 89 hit the Stable channel but we’re expecting a cartload of new features and I’m confident that we’ll find some more hidden features that you may be interested in trying out. Stay tuned.