I haven’t written about virtual desks in some time since the feature has been so close to complete for quite some time now. As a matter of fact, since November, the virtual desks experience has been about 90% complete and available out of the box. No flags have been needed for months to get all the basic functionality users need to really leverage the added productivity available from virtual desks on Chrome OS.
We’ve talked about the keyboard shortcuts before, but they are worth mentioning again here. These quick actions have allowed me to use virtual desks on a daily basis since back in November, moving quickly between workspaces and building habits that have made me fully reliant on them over the past few months. Here they are in the event that you’ve either forgotten or never tried them to begin with. Remember, you’ll need to go into overview mode (via the button on your keyboard or the 3-finger swipe up or down gesture on the trackpad) and open up a virtual desk or two to use these keyboard shortcuts.
- Search + Shift + = New desk
- Search + Shift + – Remove desk
- Search + ] Navigate to desk on right
- Search + [ Navigate to desk on the left
- Search + Shift + ] Move active window (or highlighted window in overview) to desk on the right
- Search + Shift + [ Move active window (or highlighted window in overview) to desk on the left
While these shortcuts have been my default, with Chrome OS 80, the feature I’ve wanted to be a part of my workflow has finally become part of the general user experience right out of the box without need of any flags, settings, or adjustments. That feature? 4-finger swipe to move between open desktops. I’ve gone on and on about this feature in the past, so you can read all about my reasoning for championing this feature in other posts if you like. For now, just know that a quick way to move between open desks without lifting a hand from the trackpad only increases the usability and productivity of the virtual desks experience.
Up to this point, this much-anticipated has been either removed with updates or hidden behind flags. At one point, Google was even toying with replacing this gesture with a 3-finger lateral swipe, but chose to keep things like they’ve been prior. Through all the changes, I’ve just been waiting for a quick gesture to move between my desks, and I’m happy to say it is finally here. Not basically here. Not ‘behind a flag’ here. It is officially here.
So, if you haven’t used a trackpad gesture to fling your way between workspaces, try it out. Go to overview, add a desk or two or three, and then use 4 fingers to swipe left and right to move through those desktop setups. It is gratifying, but it is also highly useful, too. Sure, the keyboard shortcuts still work and when I’m using the fantastic Logitech keyboard and mouse we just reviewed, I simply use them. But when my device is in my lap and I’m working on a couch or at a coffee shop for a shorter time, virtual desks give me a simple way to keep all my windowed messes organized, and flicking between desktops on the trackpad is by far the best way to see it all.