Chrome OS May Finally Let Users Manage Their Own Local Files

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Chrome OS may be on the verge of getting a much more traditional file management system, based on a recent change noted by tech blog MSPoweruser in Chrome 72. In that version of the OS, a new flag can be found under the "enable-myfiles-volume" tag at the chrome://flags hidden settings menu. As its name implies and as it's described in the menu, enabling the flag allows the My Files volume to be used as a read/write volume. In effect, that allows users to create their own folders in the Files application under the My Files volume of the storage management tool instead of only in Downloads.

Shifting away from cloud-only storage

If activated by default, as some users commenting at the source have indicated it is in Chrome 73's Canary test channel, the new feature will be a step away from the cloud-focused storage currently employed in Chromebooks. In its present state, users can only manage and organize their files in a couple of places that are visible in the Files storage management tool. As alluded to above, individual folders can be added in the Downloads folder by pressing the 'alt' key and clicking in the folder or by clicking the three-dot menu at the top right of the UI and selecting "New Folder."  The same actions can be taken in other locations associated with the Linux and Play folders but only to a limited degree. Since the Downloads folder is intended for temporary storage only and its contents can be deleted by the system if a device's storage becomes overloaded, that's not a viable option for storing important files.

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Summarily, the current file management system doesn't allow users to take advantage of the storage space found in dozens of Chromebooks that have released over the past year with 128GB or more of storage. Instead of creating their own organizational structure for storing files they can use with the OS's many offline Android, web, and Linux applications for interacting with files, users are left with volatile storage. There's no real way to manage the partitions that aren't subject to deletion. The flag appears to indicate that Googlers are working to solve the problem. After enabling the flag, local file storage locations can be created in a similar fashion to with the Downloads folder but within the My Files folder itself. Unlike the Downloads folder, those files won't be removed if storage is low, shifting the OS away from forcing users to use the cloud for their most important documents, images, and other files.

SD card management incoming

The steady introduction of new premium Chromebooks or even mid-range Chrome OS gadgets with well over 32GB of storage may not be the only contributing factor to the change. Although the flag also contains a note pointing to the setting's use for testing purposes or retrieving previously deleted files, it could be tied to another limited storage solution that's already been in place on Chrome OS for quite some time. Micro SD card storage on Chrome OS gadgets can't presently be used as a storage location for Android apps or similar data. That's been of the longest-running complaints about Chrome OS because it is an option in many smartphones running Google's mobile OS Android. Mobile manufacturers haven't necessarily embraced Android's adoptive storage features either but that has been picking up. The shift away from cloud-only solutions on Chrome OS might lead to a similar shift in how SD cards are used with Chromebooks.

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Junior Editor

Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]

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