Google is steadily bringing more and more productivity tools to Chrome OS. While projects like the Linux container on Chromebooks have expanded the OS’s capacity exponentially, it’s the constant subtle additions that continue to make Chrome OS more user – friendly and contribute to a more efficient daily workflow. Virtual Desks and Phone Hub are two very good examples, but one particular feature is a powerful productivity tool that lives right on your Chrome OS shelf, and I would bet many people miss out on all of its tasty utility. I’m talking about Holding Space, also known as Tote.
In case you missed it, Tote is a place for recently saved files. It lives just to the left of your system tray, where you will find time, battery level and other settings. When you save a file, the most recent ones appear in the space, which you can quickly and easily retrieve with just a mouse click. If the saved file is an image, the handy preview shows you a small, circular crop of the image, and a recent update to Tote allows you to hide these examples if you need to. Downloads and screenshots are separated in their own space, and especially important files can be attached to the top of the tote so that they are not lost in the mix when you download multiple files.
This tool is extremely useful for users who do a lot of graphic design, create presentations, manage documents or countless other usage issues that I am sure can benefit from Tote. As Android Police Kent Duke points out, Tote has been a game changer for him as a college student, constantly downloading lecture notes and assignments. The files are then at your fingertips and you do not have to dig through the Files app to access them. From a productivity and workflow standpoint, there are few additions to Chrome OS that have as much potential impact as Tote – if you actually use it, that is.
The latest update to Chrome OS Tote makes monitoring your downloads even easier with a much cleaner user interface than the current method. As you probably know, downloading a file to your Chromebook at the moment results in a rather intrusive system message starting from the system tray. For smaller files like images and the like, the notification usually disappears almost as fast as it arrives as soon as the download is complete. For larger files, reject the notification to get it out of your way, and then you will get another popup once the download is complete. A new flag in the Canary Canal brings a status bar to the Tote hold space that visualized downloads in a much cleaner way.
chrome: flag # enable-hold-space-in-progress-downloads-integration
Show ongoing download functionality in Tote to increase productivity by giving users a place to monitor and access their downloads. – Chrome OS
When enabled, downloading a file still triggers the system tray, but now the file appears in Tote with a small blue progress ring around it to show you how things are going. The overall look feels far more Google-y than the current user interface, and I personally hope it becomes standard with the big system message disappearing. The downloads status bar feels very polished and works exactly as you would expect, but there is probably still some adjustment to be made. Kent Duke points out that if your downloaded file has a similar color scheme as the status bar, it makes it a little hard to see. He spotted some really good pictures of how this could be overcome and I sincerely hope Google runs with his idea if they have not already done so. You can find his full post and the amazing mock-ups over on Android Police. We’re keeping an eye on this new feature and telling you when it’s starting to move up on Chrome OS channels.