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These 7 new Chromebook features will change how you use Chrome OS

Boost productivity and let your Chrome and Android devices work together with these new tools.

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Google's Chrome OS turns 10 years old this year and to celebrate it has rolled out a number of new features and updates with its latest version, M89. The Chrome OS updates are primarily aimed at increasing your productivity with new tools and options. Android users get extra benefits with this update that make it easier to jump between your Chromebook and Android phone. 

These enhancements couldn't come at a better time. Chromebook shipments skyrocketed in 2020 due to the sharp increase in remote workers and students caused by the pandemicDistance learning, in particular, contributed to the spike.

Here's a quick rundown of what you can expect to find in the M89 update.

Now playing: Watch this: Chromebooks get new features

Phone Hub


Android users can now access their phones from Chrome's Shelf. The hub lets you see the last couple of tabs you viewed on your phone, see its battery level and wireless connection strength and get notifications from chat apps. It can also be used to locate your phone by setting off its ringtone, and it can silence your phone entirely. 

Wi-Fi Sync

Wi-Fi Sync is an existing Chrome OS feature that lets you share your network settings between devices. It's been enhanced to work with more devices. This means if your phone connects to a safe Wi-Fi network, your phone can share the network password with your Chromebook so you're ready to work when you lift the lid.  

Screen Capture 

Josh Goldman/CNET

From the Quick Settings on Chrome's Shelf, you can now select Capture. The tool not only lets you take screenshots but can be used to capture screen recordings as well. The tool will let you capture a window, a crop of a specific area of your screen or the entire screen.


Josh Goldman/CNET

Google added a new holding spot on the Shelf called Tote. It's where you'll find your most recent screenshots. But you'll also be able to see downloads without having to launch the file browser. You can pin files to Tote, too, which means you can keep an important document readily open without searching for it. 


Alongside the new Tote feature is an enhanced Clipboard. It's now able to store the last five things you saved to it. To view what's available, simply press the Everything button plus V. 


Josh Goldman/CNET

Desks launched last year and lets you create separate workspaces for different projects you're working on. Google updated it to add a new right-click option to send an open window to a different Desk than the one it's in, or all of your Desks if necessary. A four-finger swipe across your touchpad will let you switch between Desks now, too. 

Quick Answers 

Need to convert a measurement from imperial to metric or need the definition of a word you're reading? Just highlight whatever it is and right-click on it and you'll be given a definition, conversion or translation along with your other options. This can be toggled on and off in the settings menu under Related Info. 

Those are the major updates, but they're joined by a handful of smaller tool tweaks. The accessibility feature Select-to-Speak, for example, now has controls to speed up, slow down and pause. You can now pin media controls for YouTube Music and Spotify to the shelf. And for those with students on Chromebooks, you're now able to add school accounts, as well as add a PIN, to make it easier for your kids to sign into their accounts.