A few months ago I created a video to show some of the issues I had with the Chrome OS Virtual Desk. These issues still exist, but the good news is a flag is available, which fixes the problem.
If you’re unfamiliar with Chrome OS flags. They are experimental options you can enable on your Chromebook or Chromebox. You don’t need to go into developer mode to use flags, so they are relatively easy to enable.
They are experimental, so if any flags you enable cause problems you did not expect. You can easily change the flags back to their default setting.
The advantages of using Chrome OS Multi-desk
The first thing I’d mention is many people refer to Multi-Desk as a virtual desk. However, I tend to use Multi-Desk because a virtual desk would suggest you’re using a virtual setup. This isn’t the case when using multiple desktops, so a multi-desk is a better way to explain the feature.
The advantage of having more than one desktop is that it allows you to separate work. For example, I use my Chromebox throughout the day and most of the time I’m working. Either on my blog or my YouTube channel.
Nobody goes through the whole day without having a break or two. This is when I would normally open up YouTube to watch a video or catch up on social media. The problem with this is it’s very easy to keep these tabs open. If you do this they can easily interfere when you return to work, which can impact your productivity.
Using two or more desktops on your Chromebook
By using Chrome OS Multi-Desk I can separate my work from play. This is much better because I will not be as easily distracted when I’m working. By having two desktops you can open different tabs.
For example, on my work desktop, I could have my blog open and my YouTube channel page. I’d possibly also have my email open that I use for my Blog. On my second desktop, which I would name ‘Play’. I would not have these open and instead would have another YouTube browser open where I can search for videos I’d watch for fun.
The current Chrome OS Multi-Desk
The issue I found with Chrome OS Multi-Desk is that it doesn’t solve an issue. I can’t really see the point in having multiple desktops if the main reason for using them isn’t working correctly.
At the moment, and I’m currently using Chrome OS 96. If I have two desktops open. If I open YouTube on my ‘Play’ desktop and search for some music videos to watch. When I go back to my work desktop. If I try to open YouTube to visit my channel. Instead of opening a brand new YouTube tab. It simply swaps me back to my ‘Play’ desktop and shows me the YouTube page I already had open. I find this really frustrating because it does not separate your desktop browser tabs.
This Chrome OS flag fixes that
The good news is the Chrome OS team is also aware of this issue because they’ve created a flag to fix it. Once you’ve enabled the flag. If you have a YouTube page open on one desktop. When you open YouTube on a separate desktop. Instead of switching back to the desktop where YouTube is already open. It opens a fresh YouTube page.
This is a great improvement on the current setup. At the moment you’ll need to enable a flag to use this functionality. Flags are experimental. This usually means the Chrome OS team will deliver them to the stable channel by default once they’re happy with how it works.
How to enable the Multidesk flag
To enable the flag, follow the steps below:
If you’d prefer to watch how to change this flag. Why not watch my YouTube video, which shows you how to change enable the Chrome OS Multi-Desk Flag.
- Open a Chrome Browser
- in the address bar type the following chrome://flags and hit return
- in the search field type limit shelf items to active desk
- Select this flag and Change from Default to Enabled
- Click on Restart from the message you’ll see at the bottom of your desktop
Once your Chromebook or Chromebox has restarted. You’ll notice the issue with the Chrome OS multi-desk has been resolved. You can now use Multi-Desk for what they are made for. To separate different parts of your life, so they don’t interfere with each other throughout the day.
If you wish to disable the flag in the future. Simply follow the steps above and change from Enabled back to Default. If you don’t yet own a Chromebook and are interested in buying one. Take a look at these great Chromebooks.