Because I’ve been using my Windows 11 desktop to experiment and assess key differences between Microsoft’s new operating system and Google’s Chrome OS, I’ve come to realize a few things. First, Windows has made it very difficult for users to default to Chrome as their primary browser. Next, it did a lot of things right and it seems to have taken inspiration from the simplistic and user-friendly design of Chromebooks. I also wish that Chromebooks would steal Windows 11’s display and window location restore capabilities.
Today, I was using Windows Explorer and highlighted several images, pressed F2 to rename them, and went on my way. After moving over to my Pixelbook Go, I naturally gravitated toward this action as though it would be carried out in the same way after finding myself in a position where I again needed to rename several items simultaneously. Much to my surprise, I was snapped back to reality when nothing happened. I even tried to do so after enabling ‘use top row as function keys’ via the Settings app – nothing.
On Chrome OS, renaming a file locally in the Files app simply involves highlighting it and pressing Ctrl+Enter. It works fine for one image at a time, sure, but after selecting four or five and pressing the same key combination, I was met with, well, nothing. Chromebooks just don’t have batch renaming for files, and after all of the workplace and education popularity they’ve amassed over the years (and especially over the past year, thanks to the pandemic), I’m a bit shocked that Google hasn’t implemented this yet!
Back when I sold Chromebooks in big box stores and performed consultations for thousands of customers – students, business owners, photographers with drones, casual users, and military personnel alike (Yes, you can use a CAC Card reader on a Chromebook!) I find it hard to believe that absolutely zero percent of the Chrome OS userbase has a need for such an essential and expected file management feature.
If you attempt to select several files and go about renaming them the manual way – avoiding the shortcut and clicking the three-dots ‘more’ menu at the top-right of the Files app – you’ll notice that it’s greyed out. More than anything, I’m writing this as a complaint. Google, you need to fix this! Sure, many users may not speak about missing features, but that doesn’t mean they’re not essential to the Chromebook experience.
If Chromebooks are going to advance further into the mainstream and mature to new levels, being adopted by new audiences and markets, Google will need to start thinking like a consumer, not like a corporation. If you’re utilizing a multiple file renaming extension for Chrome, you can perform this task on Google Drive files, but sadly, there remains no way to do so locally or on external storage devices, and that’s unacceptable.
I’ve known many customers over the years who prefer not to use Drive, and more still who use Drive and local storage in combination with one another. Chrome OS is a cloud-first device, but it can’t think like a cloud-only device. When it makes this change, we should start to see more basic features implemented where they should have been years ago. Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with my stance!