ChromeOS 120 is official and rolling out to the vast majority of Chromebooks and other ChromeOS devices right now. Apart from only a couple devices on the list over at cros.tech, it seems everyone should be getting this latest version of the OS right on time. And there are a few fun, useful new features along for the ride this time. Head to your Settings > About ChromeOS > Check for updates to get the ball rolling if your device hasn’t already taken the update.
Virtual Desks shelf button
First up, the new shelf button for Virtual Desks is here right out of the box. We’ve talked about this feature in the past, but it is now here without any additional setup needed and works like a charm. Once you have more than one Virtual Desk enabled, you’ll see the new button to the left of your pinned apps on the shelf. Click this new button and you’ll see a small pop-up of your open desks and using the quick arrows on either side of the button will allow you to move through your desks, too.
Self Share via Nearby Share (flag required)
Self Share is one of the other highlighted features for ChromeOS 120, but it is unfortunately not working for me without the associated feature flag switched on, found here – chrome://flags/#nearby-sharing-self-share. It’s easy enough to enable and for a few other new features in ChromeOS 120, you’ll need to turn on flags for those as well. But I really wish the headlining features worked out of the box for general users. You shouldn’t have to do extra work to use a new tool after an update.
Alas, it works quite well, allowing Nearby Share to operate with a bit more agency than it has when used to share from devices not logged into the same account. With Self Share, you can utilize Nearby Share and your Chromebook or Android phone will immediately accept the transfer without any additional prompts. I like this a lot.
New app details in the App Manager
Another very handy feature that arrived with ChromeOS 120 is buried a bit, but if you head to your Settings > Apps > Manage your apps and choose any applications listed, you’ll see a new section at the bottom of each that highlights where you installed the app from and what sort of app it is. Whether it’s an Android app from the Play Store, a system web app, a web app you installed via Chrome, or a PWA from the Google Play Store, you’ll get all the relevant details in this new App details section.
New keyboard shortcuts and options
There are some new keyboard shortcuts and options available as well. One new ability is the Customize keyboard keys area in the Keyboard settings that allows you to toggle a few options for common keyboard shortcuts like delete, page up/down, etc., but also allows you to remap pretty standard keys like the CTRL, ALT, and ESC keys. For people like me who are hard-wired to use ALT+Backspace for delete on a Chromebook, I like knowing I have the option to continue using this even though ChromeOS 120’s new default is LAUNCHER+Backspace.
Second is the option to now use a keyboard key and a trackpad click to call up a right click. Not everyone loves the two-finger click on the trackpad to bring up the right-click menus, so there are now options to do this via holding the Launcher or ALT keys when clicking the trackpad. I think there are quite a few folks who will like this addition.
Pinch-zoom for PIP windows
PIP windows are far more common to see when in tablet mode, and many media players utilize them when you make a gesture to take yourself back “home” on a Chromebook. Now, when you do so, you’ll be able to more easily adjust the size of that floating window with a simple pinch-to-zoom motion. Dragging the corners for PIP windows is easy with a mouse or trackpad, but it’s a bit clunky with your digits. This new feature makes all of that far simpler.
New Media Controls (flag required)
I just talked at length about the new Global Media Controls widget in a recent post, so I won’t go on about it too much here. Just know that there’s a really nice, new look to this section of the ChromeOS shelf and that it also handles all your media casting requests, too, so it really ties everything together quite nicely. You’ll need to turn on the associated feature flags here (chrome://flags/#global-media-controls-cros-updated-ui and chrome://flags/global-media-controls-cast-start-stop) to take advantage of it, and I highly recommend doing so.
Mouse button customizations (flag required)
Finally (for now, at least), we also have the new mouse button customization in Stable. With this feature, we made a whole video about it, and I’m very happy to see it landing in this update even if it still requires a flag. You can go to chrome://flags/enable-peripheral-customization to enable it, and after you do, you’ll see a new section in your mouse menu that allows you to remap all of your buttons. It’s really, really handy.
But that’s it for ChromeOS 120 that we’re aware of. As always, there are little features hiding here and there that we’ll likely come across in the coming weeks before ChromeOS 121 lands. If we find anything big, we’ll be sure to let you know. For the time being, hopefully some of these new features will be helpful to you and make using your Chromebook a bit better.