One of the most exciting features to recently land in Chrome OS, in our opinion, has been the addition of Virtual Desks. Known as virtual desktops in general computer-speak, Chrome OS Virtual Vesks simply creates additional “desktops” where users can organize their work and keep various projects corralled in separate virtual “space.” For casual users, Virtual Desks will likely not provide a lot of use cases. For the productivity-focused, Virtual Desks can be a game-changing tool.
If you haven’t stumbled upon Desks on your Chromebook, go ahead and hit the overview key on your keyboard or swipe up/down on your touchpad with three fingers. The overview key is where the F5 key would be on a Windows keyboard. It is directly left of the brightness down key. You should see a small window up top. That’s your main desktop. To the right, you should see a “New Desk” button. Click that and now you have a second Virtual Desk. You can create up to four desks and from there, you can drag your various windows and applications into whichever Desk you like. This is a killer tool if you like to keep your primary work stuff in one space and your current project in a space by itself. I’m sure that you can imagine a wide variety of ways to leverage Virtual Desks. JR Raphel wrote a great piece on why and how Virtual Desks changed his workflow. It’s worth a read if you haven’t already.
On today’s episode of The Chrome Cast, we chatted a bit about Virtual Desks and what improvements Google could consider making them even more useful. One such feature that I would consider a necessity actually rolled out with Chrome OS 83 and I didn’t realize it until this morning. In the official update announcement, Google stated that Virtual Desks could now be named and that’s great. Having a specific label for each Desk is definitely a productivity booster that aids in navigating between desks. However, in Chrome OS 81, powering off your device essentially deleted any Desks that you created during your work time. That is no longer the case.
I had created two Desks this morning to keep my Chrome Unboxed work separated from Gaming Unboxed stuff and in the middle of enabling Android apps, my Pixelbook Go decided to start acting wonky. I powered down my Chromebook and after turning it back on, I noticed that my previously created Desks were still there. To verify, I shut down again and waited a few minutes. Sure enough, the Desks persisted.
Why it matters
The entire point of Virtual Desktops is to create an organized space that results in a proficient, manageable workflow. When used properly, Desks do just that but if you have to set them up every morning before you get to it, that’s counterproductive. Now, with Chrome OS 83, that problem is gone. When you create your Desks and name them, they will remain in place even when you power off your device. This is a very welcome addition to an already helpful Chrome OS feature that we hope will continue to evolve as time passes.