There’s an experimental Chrome OS flag coming to sort apps on Chromebooks

After years of waiting, it appears that an upcoming version of Chrome OS will allow you to sort apps on Chromebooks. 9to5 Google spotted a code commit for this still in the works feature. The bug is listed as private, so only the Chromium development team can see what version of Chrome OS will add this feature.

One thing we do know from the code is that there will be an experimental flag to introduce the feature. Early birds will want to watch the Canary channel for: chrome://flags#launcher-apps-sort. Once enabled, you can presumably sort apps alphabetically or by some other logical means.

It was almost a year ago that I finally got aggravated by the lack of sortable Launcher apps to speak out about it. I noted that after a decade of Chrome OS, it was inexcusable to offer such basic, but important, functionality.

I also shared some insight from my time working at Google on why the ability to sort apps on Chromebooks wasn’t likely a priority:

Chromebooks have been commercially available since 2011, although the CR-41 arrived in 2010, and they still don’t have what I consider to be a basic, “must-have” feature for an operating system. In a way, I understand why. Everything at Google revolves around searching. And when I worked at Google, I rarely saw my peers scrolling through an app launcher on any device, whether it was a phone or a laptop (typically MacBooks and Chromebooks). Instead, they searched for an app with just a few keystrokes, tapped the search result, and moved on.”

Simply put, Googlers search for just about everything possible. So what end-users might consider a key feature, such as sortable apps, isn’t foremost in the minds of engineers. It’s a bit of a disconnect, in my opinion.

sort apps on Chromebooks

Regardless of the reasons why you can’t sort apps on Chromebooks, I’m thrilled to see signs of progress on this.

I know not everyone wants or cares about various ways to sort their Launcher apps. But my Launcher? It’s a mess. There are pages of apps, some of which only have an app or two on them. And of course, the Launcher layout syncs to my other devices, so I see the mess on nearly a half-dozen Chromebooks. Eew!

10 thoughts on “There’s an experimental Chrome OS flag coming to sort apps on Chromebooks

  • July 10, 2021 at 4:33 pm
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    Yikes, they finally hired an intern programmer to do the dull yet important jobs that the big wigs can’t be bothered to do.

    Reply
  • July 10, 2021 at 6:08 pm
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    I sort my apps every once in a while. It can be done, but it’s not that easy. I mostly use the touch screen to move them around. I also condense them to 2 screens.

    Reply
  • July 10, 2021 at 7:45 pm
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    Couldn’t agree more, looking forward to a sort option. Way overdue.

    Reply
  • July 11, 2021 at 5:11 am
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    YES!!!!! I chuckled at “or by some other logical means” because really ANYTHING would be better than chaos.

    Reply
    • July 11, 2021 at 6:55 pm
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      Arranging things by names that the user is unlikely to remember and spill onto multiple pages, is as bad a having them randomized.
      The basic feature missing from Chrome OS is a drawer “editing” mode and the ability to put items into FOLDERS without the target folder trying to evade the addition. This functionality has been in Android launchers for years.

      Reply
  • July 11, 2021 at 2:07 pm
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    For almost everything that I do on a Chromebook, I admit that Bookmarks work remarkably well as an alternative to the Launcher.
    https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/188842?p=bookmarks
    They work so well that I keep the Bookmarks Button app on the Shelf.
    https://singleclickapps.com/bookmarks-app/
    But Bookmarks don’t help with launching Android apps and the like. And a robust OS obviously needs a robust Launcher. So the automatic sorting options for Launcher icons is long overdue and will be roundly welcomed.

    Reply
  • July 11, 2021 at 2:10 pm
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    Grammar/typo:
    ❝It was almost a year ago that I finally got aggravated [enough] by the lack of sortable Launcher apps to speak out about it.❞

    Reply
  • July 11, 2021 at 2:25 pm
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    I don’t trust the launcher to save everything or sync everything so all important stuff is a bookmark too.

    Good thing about bookmarks is can take own local backup too with export to html or select all and copy and past into text file.

    I then keep backup of bookmarks on my domain so can access regardless of what machine I’m on. That’s my backup version of cloud computing, lol.

    Reply
  • July 11, 2021 at 6:48 pm
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    This is a crutch.
    It us a substitute for training the kind if folks who would have Windows start menus that scrolled because they never discovered application folders (and probably never learned to ORGANIZE their physical assets).

    Alphabetical order is the single MOST INEFFICIENT way to “organize” tools. The feature they need folders, has been in Chrome OS, Chrome before that., and many of the preceding browsers.

    When I was in IT, my PC had every program installed that the 4000 non-IT employee used for work, plus about 15 more that only IT folks used, plus a few that only I used. My primary folder listing was 10 items long.
    On my Chromebook what the install routines put on 3 nearly full pages fits into one, with space for new items prior to my filing them in a folder. None of those folders spill onto a second page.

    Whether something is a “bookmark”, or an app icon, it’s just a shortcut. Desktop extension icons even have a built in “folder” for those that spill or are hidden by the user displayed on the 3-dots menu. Better Android launchers provide folder capability on the home screen(s) and/or drawer.

    Learn to use what you have before looking for added features, Each new feature adds code and more opportunities for defects.

    Reply
  • July 11, 2021 at 6:57 pm
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    Arranging things by names that the user is unlikely to remember and spill onto multiple pages, is as bad a having them randomized.
    The basic feature missing from Chrome OS is a drawer “editing” mode and the ability to put items into FOLDERS without the target folder trying to evade the addition. This functionality has been in Android launchers for years.

    Reply

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