“Desk Templates” are an extension of the virtual desks feature for Chromebooks that allow you to save and later recall apps, Chrome tabs, and more in dedicated workspaces with ease. One simple click and everything you were previously working on is restored! This differentiates itself from the Restore feature that you can reinstate these same windows post-crash or post-restart on a device because templates are saved by you, and can be pulled up even after a long hiatus or if you go off and do something entirely different with your workstation.
We previously covered “Desk Templates” at the beginning of this month when the Canary developer flag was discovered, but at that time, we didn’t exactly have access to them, and therefore, we couldn’t give you a glimpse of what was coming. Now, the feature is fully working on Canary, albeit still with the use of a flag, and no longer crashes halfway through use. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how they work so that you can be prepared to make use of them once they become available to you out of the box!
In the video below, we’re also utilizing the Persistent Desk Bar flag so that our virtual desks are ever-present at the top of our screen, but if you’re not using this, you can just press the “Overview” button on your keyboard. If you’re running Chrome OS Stable, you’ll just be reading today and following along for entertainment value in anticipation of its public release.
Once you call up your virtual desks, and only after you’ve enabled the flag found below, you’ll need to create a desk, open any apps and websites you’d like to “save for later”, and then press the new “Save desk as a template” button that appears at the top-left of your open windows in “Overview” mode. After you’ve done so, you’ll immediately be taken to a new screen that displays your current “templates”.
You’ll also see a new “Templates” button on the top-right of the desks bar, and it will feature several “tiles” as an icon. Please bear in mind that once you’ve saved a desk as a template, you won’t need to “Use template” on the Templates screen as that template is already in use. Confusing, I know, but clicking to open said template will simply open a duplicate copy of it with a number after its name. This won’t be of any use to you, so keep it simple and remember that creating a template automatically launches it as well.
I’ve found that the best way to use “Desk templates” is to create one for each area of my life. My personal, work, creative, and freelance efforts, to be exact. However, if you’re interested in using these templates for temporary projects or research, you can do that as well. Don’t forget, if you’re just using Chrome to research things on the web, Tab Groups may be a better option. Reserve desk templates for sessions where you’re mixing and matching apps, websites, and so on instead.
Overall, these are shaping up pretty quickly, and it’s obvious that Google is gearing up for a huge feature drop for Chrome OS during the holiday season or the new year. With Desk Templates, the new Productivity Launcher, Calendar widget, and more, anyone receiving a Chromebook as a gift for Christmas is going to be in for a real treat! Let me know in the comments if virtual desks are missing anything that you deem vital, and whether or not you even use them. Will the introduction of these templates change your use of desks? Let’s discuss.