Customising your Chromebook with Chrome OS flags

One thing you may not be too happy about when it comes to Chrome OS is customisation. Compared to all the other operating systems available. It definitely is the one with the least customisation options.

There is a reason for this, which is to ensure Chrome OS stays extremely lightweight. By keeping Chrome OS lightweight means we have a computer that boots up in seconds. It also means you don’t necessarily need a computer with high specs to get the most out of Chrome OS.

I totally understand the reason for this and I would prefer less customisation and a secure and fast operating system. Rather than having more customisation options at the expense of the operating system being less streamlined.

Customise your Chromebook with Chrome OS flags

All that being said. Who doesn’t like to customise their computer? Nobody wants to have a computer that is exactly the same as the person sitting next to them. This is why so many of us choose our own desktop wallpapers and screensavers.

Chrome OS flags do allow you to customise your Chromebook. This is not the reason for these flags, but they do allow you to change how your Chromebook looks. Not all flags offer visual changes, so you need to know what to look for.

The real reason for Chrome OS flags is to improve functionality. Before new functionality is introduced to the stable channel. You’ll most likely find a flag for this functionality first. Some of these flags are only available in the developer channel whilst you can use others from the stable channel.

Should I use Chrome OS flags

Look at Chrome OS flags as features that will most likely be the standard in the future. This isn’t the case all of the time. However, it’s fair to say most Chrome OS flags will eventually be part of the stable channel as standard.

Instead of waiting for these flags to be included in the stable channel. You can use some of them to customise your Chromebook. You need to remember these flags are experimental, as they are still being worked on. Therefore, you may experience issues, and if you do you can easily disable flags.

I would not necessarily recommend putting your Chromebook into the developer channel. I’ve done this on many of my Chromebooks, but I just don’t like it. You have an annoying ritual to get through when booting up your Chromebook each time. Also, you can lose your Chromebook warranty by changing out of the stable channel.

This is why I would only recommend using flags you can use in the stable channel. Using flags in the stable channel is a much better way of seeing what you might expect to see from Chrome OS in the future.

Some of the Chrome OS flags available in the stable channel

There are plenty of Chrome OS flags you can use. A huge majority of them have nothing to do with visual changes. Therefore, I would strongly advise not to use flags unless you’re confident with what they will do.

Below I’ve listed three Chrome OS flags currently available. These flags will change Chrome OS visually. Therefore, they are a great way of adding some customisation to your Chromebook.

Add a calendar to your Chromebook

This is a great flag. How long have you wanted to have a built-in calendar on your Chromebook? If you’ve found it pretty frustrating having to reach for your phone to check out specific dates. Then you’ll be happy you’ve stumbled across this flag.

By enabling this flag you’ll get a built-in calendar. It offers great productivity benefits by having a calendar at your fingertips. You can access the calendar by clicking at the bottom right of your desktop on the date and time. Then simply click on the date and the calendar will be visible.

Chrome OS 97 adds a calendar to your Chromebook

Watch my video on how to enable the Chrome OS flag to add a calendar to your Chromebook or read my article on how to enable the Chrome OS calendar.

Chrome OS Flag: #calendar-view

A new app launcher menu

Another great flag you can enable provides you with a new app launcher menu. This is the menu you reach by clicking on the circle at the bottom left of your desktop.

At the moment this menu takes up the whole of the screen and is centered in the middle. It’s the app launcher menu that has come as standard on the Chromebook for a couple of years.

The new app launcher menu is more like a traditional start menu you’d be familiar with when using Microsoft Windows. It takes up a lot less room, so you can still see what is on your screen in the background. Apps are also displayed in a much better way.

You can now use the new Chrome OS app launcher menu in stable channel

Watch my video on how to enable the new app launcher menu on your Chromebook or read my article on how to enable the new Chrome OS app launcher.

Chrome OS Flag: #productivity-launcher

Add Dark Mode functionality to your Chromebook

This flag allows you to enable Dark Mode. I’ve used this flag a little. However, I think there is still a lot of work to be done with this flag. The above two flags I’ve mentioned I still use, but I’ve disabled the dark mode flag after having issues with reading text.

I’m sure this flag will be released on the stable channel in the future. It does allow you to change the shelf and menus on your Chromebook to a lighter colour. I really like this because I’ve got pretty bored with the darker colour currently available on the stable channel.

Chrome OS Flag: #dark-light-mode

How to enable and disable flags

The great thing about flags is that they are easy to enable. Also, if you do run into any issues they are also easy to disable.

  • Open your Chrome Browser
  • type the following into the web address field at the top of your browser chrome://flags and press return.

You’ll then see a list of Chrome OS flags. A list of flags available for your specific Chromebook, and a list of flags not currently available. You can only enable or disable flags from the currently available list.

You can either scroll down the list to find a specific flag. However, it’s much easier to find them by simply typing the flag into the search box. You can type the Chrome OS flag names I’ve listed above in the search box to easily find them.

Summary

Before using Chrome OS flags you need to understand they do mean you may experience issues. The warning at the top of the flag list clearly states you could lose browsing data and your Chromebook may not be as secure.

Therefore, you need to be happy with this before enabling any flags. Personally speaking. I can’t imagine using flags causing you too many issues. Just be sensible when using them and don’t enable flags unless you understand what they may do.

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