Google Is Finally Decluttering The Files App On Chromebooks

Chromebooks Chrome OS Files App DG AH 2020
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A change spotted in the Dev Channel for Chromebooks seems to hint that Google is finally working to declutter the Files app on Chromebooks. The company is now removing some UI from the main interface and placing it elsewhere. More specifically, that's the separated Audio, Images, and Videos categories that sit just below "Recent" on the left-hand-site of the interface.

Placed at the top of that navigation pane in Files, the categories were effectively a rundown of recent files. But separated out into categories. In theory, that should make finding those files that have been accessed recently easier to find. But the files shown there have always been "Read-only."

That means that users couldn't actually do a whole lot with those files. The file details in the three-dot overflow menu at the right-hand-side did show where those files were stored. But interacting with the files directly in Files — with the exception of opening them — wasn't really a possibility.

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But why would Google declutter Files on Chromebooks like this?

Google is tucking those away under the recent tab now. After clicking on the Recent tab, the categories are shown at the top of the main UI as buttons or chips, to the right of the navigation pane.

Since the files in that segment of the interface are 'Read-only', there isn't a lot of use for the categories. Limited use isn't the only issue either. Tying into that, the recent file categories also were set at the top of navigation. As a result, they took up a ton of space — a little under half the space at the default window size upon opening.

That left users scrolling through the rest of the Files navigation UI. So any files and folders they might have organized — unless they scrolled or used a bigger window — were out of sight and out of mind. That's in addition to the problem of Google Drive, the most useful Files feature, being relegated to the bottom.

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With the Audio, Images, and Videos categories moved out of the way, more of the system-level organization is shown. That should make it easier to use the Files app. And more along the lines of its intended purpose as a file manager.

When will you see this change?

Now, the Stable Channel everybody uses and the Dev Channel for developers are not the same version of Chrome. The Dev Channel is presently on version 87 of Chrome OS. That's as compared to version 85 on Chromebooks. So it will likely take at least until December before this feature change starts making its way to end-users.

At the very least, that means that Chrome OS 87 is shaping up to be among the most user-facing feature-rich updates to date.

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