Don’t like the new Tote feature in Chrome OS 89? Here’s how to disable it.

I’ve heard from a number of readers and on various social media sites from folks who don’t like the new Tote feature in Chrome OS 89. Apparently, not everyone is a fan. The good news is that it’s currently easy to disable it, which removes the extra icon near the Quick Settings panel on your Chromebook. There’s bad news too, but I’ll share that after explaining how to remove Tote from Chrome OS 89.

If you’re not familiar with the Tote feature, it basically provides quick access to recent or pinned files on your Chromebook.

Here’s how Google describes it:

Enables quick access to screenshots, downloads, and important files which aims to increase productivity by saving time. When enabled, access recent screenshots and downloads from the shelf. Pin important files with the Files App context menu to keep them one click away. 

For those who want that access, this is indeed a time saver. However, I’m in the camp of “no thanks” and I’d rather not have the icon appearing, nor the feature working. So here’s how I removed it, which is quite easy.

Type chrome://flags/#enable-holding-space in your Chromebook browser, or click the link I’ve provided.

Then change the option to the right of the flag information to Disabled.

Click the Restart button at the bottom right of the window and after a few seconds, you’ll be all set: The Tote feature will be gone.

Now for the bad news.

While this process works in the Chrome OS 89 Stable Version, I was testing something on another Chromebook with Chrome OS 91 Dev Version software.

This flag for the Tote feature is not there.

And that makes sense because flags are for “experimental” features. With Tote enabled in the Stable Channel by default, it’s no longer experimental but “generally available.”

So as Chrome OS moves up in versions, the flag will be expired and therefore disappear. Essentially, we’ll all be stuck with the Tote icon and functionality.

new Tote feature in Chrome OS 89
New Tote feature in Chrome OS 89

Personally, I think this feature should be user-configurable in the Chrome OS Settings app. If you want to use it, enable it. If you don’t, disable it.

As of now, however, it won’t be.

My suggestion for those who don’t want Tote enabled by default, or want a user option to turn it on or off would be to send feedback to Google. It’s quite simple: Just press Alt + Shift + I (as in “Igloo“) to open up a feedback screen. Type your thoughts, capture a screenshot if you’d like, and send it to Google.

Perhaps if enough of the “no Tote, please” users submit this feedback, Google might consider a less universal approach.

3 thoughts on “Don’t like the new Tote feature in Chrome OS 89? Here’s how to disable it.

  • March 30, 2021 at 10:39 am

    The Tote feature is a 𝕄𝕒𝕛𝕠𝕣 time saver for me when I need to get to a file instantly and without having to think about how to navigate to it. I would think that everyone has four or five files that they need to open very frequently, so just pinning them to Tote is the answer. I did find it annoying that Tote displays icon-sized previews of pinned files. So, I just right-clicked on Tote and selected “Hide previews.” Problem solved. So now the only problem that I have with Tote is that I can’t pin files directly from Google Drive. Sure, Google Drive files are accessible from the built-in file manager. Not my preferred way to pin, but it works.

  • March 30, 2021 at 6:17 pm

    IMO Adding and dropping “features” willy-nilly without warning, explanation or opt-out ability exposes the platform’s most glaring weakness, Google itself.

    The collective decisions of Google’s founders and current CEO that seem to be totally disconnected from their customers (AKA products) needs suggest a new collective noun – an arrogance of CxO’s .

  • March 30, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    In plain english, tote is the most recent saved items folder pinned in the tool tray.
    Right click on it to disable.
    I wish google would stop fussing with the folder settings. I want it to open full screen every time. I want to highlight downloads all the time, not my files. Never gunna happen, but I can wish.


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