How to use virtual desktops in Chrome OS.

Google is finally adding virtual desktops to its repertoire of Chromebook features, something other major operating systems already have, with Chrome OS version 76. The feature has been in testing for several months and is now available to those on the stable channel.

Virtual desktops, which Google calls virtual desktops, allow you to separate your desktop into multiple workspaces where you can organize apps and windows. Chrome OS allows you to have up to four desktops at the same time that you can quickly switch between.

How to use virtual desktops in Chrome OS

After updating your Chromebook to the latest version of Chrome OS, all you have to do is press the “Overview” key () to see the option in the upper right corner to start using virtual desktops.

How to enable virtual desktops

If you don’t see Virtual Desktops (from the + New Desktop button) available when you press the Overview key, the feature may be hidden behind a flag that you must enable before you can access it. Here’s how to activate the feature.

How to use virtual desktops in Chrome OS

When you enable any chrome://flags, you are using experimental features that have not been tested on all devices and could malfunction. You may run into some bugs along the way, so be careful when playing around with some of the available flags.

Fire up Chrome, type chrome://flags in the omnibox, press the Enter key, and then type “Virtual Desktops” in the search bar.

How to use virtual desktops in Chrome OS

Alternatively, paste chrome://flags/# enable-virtual-desks into the Omnibox and press Enter to go directly there.

Click on the drop-down box next to the “Enable virtual desktops” mark and then select “Enabled”.

How to use virtual desktops in Chrome OS

For the changes to take effect, you must restart Chrome OS. Click the blue “Restart Now” button at the bottom of the page.

How to add virtual desktops

Now that the virtual desktops feature is working on your computer, press the Overview key () on your keyboard to see all active windows. At the top of the screen, notice the “+ New Desktop” icon. Press this to add a new virtual desktop.

You can add and use up to four desktops at one time.

How to use virtual desktops in Chrome OS

How to switch between virtual desktops

Virtual desktops are ideal for applications that you can leave open without minimizing them to the tray. The app lives there, waiting for your return. You might have social apps on one desktop and a word processor on the other, for example.

Whenever you want to switch between desktops and use applications that you have dedicated to them, you can do it in several ways.

The first way to switch desktops is to press the Summary key and then click a desktop at the top of the screen to switch to it immediately. As long as you remember which applications are in which Virtual Desk, moving between them is quick and easy.

How to use virtual desktops in Chrome OS

The second method allows you to snap right to the app you’re looking for without having to guess which desktop you’re on. Each app that is currently open has an icon that appears on the shelf. So all you have to do is click on the app and you are directly connected to that desktop. If the app is minimized, selecting the app icon also maximizes it.

How to move applications between virtual desktops

Once you open an app on a specific desktop, you don’t have to spend your whole life there. Instead, you can move it between desktops. This feature is useful if you accidentally opened an app on the wrong desktop and want to move it without killing it.

Press the Overview key while viewing the virtual desktops with the application you want to move, click and drag the window to the center of the screen, and then drag and drop it onto the desired desktop.

Note: Make sure to drag the app to the middle first. Chrome OS mimics Android and kills the app when dragged up or down from the sides.

How to use virtual desktops in Chrome OS

Keyboard shortcuts for virtual desktops are coming soon

Currently, Chrome OS does not have a way to navigate through virtual desktops using trackpad gestures or keyboard shortcuts. However, as you noted, the for virtual desktops notes that the following shortcuts are coming soon:

Ctrl + Search + =: Add new desktop.
Ctrl + Search + -: Delete desktop.
Ctrl + Search +]: activates the desktops on the right (if any).
Ctrl + Search + : Move the active window (or the highlighted window in Overview mode) to the right desktop (if applicable).
Ctrl + Find + Shift +[:Moveactivewindow(orhighlightedwindowinOverviewmode)toleftdesktop(ifany)[:Moveactivewindow(orhighlightedwindowinOverviewmode)tothedeskontheleft(ifany)[:Muevelaventanaactiva(olaventanaresaltadaenelmodoVistageneral)alescritoriodelaizquierda(silohay)[:Moveactivewindow(orhighlightedwindowinOverviewmode)tothedeskontheleft(ifany)

We’re not sure when these shortcuts will be available, but it’s probably safe to assume they will be sooner rather than later.

How to use virtual desktops in Chrome OS

With the addition of virtual desktops to Chrome OS, Google finally joins all other major operating systems with multiple workspaces in optimizing your desktop(s) for a more productive and uncluttered life.