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Chrome OS File Manager To Get ‘Material Design’ Revamp

The Chrome OS file manager is undergoing a redesign that will bring it in line with Google’s Material design guidelines, a recent bug report confirms.

Not that anyone will be shocked by such news. The entire Chrome OS UI is, in some small stroke or another, getting a lick of Material-style paint. We’ve already seen early drops trickle down to developer builds of the OS, like the new-look Chrome App Launcher, ‘enhanced’ bookmarks experience and a handful of minor icon tweaks. All serve to freshen things up.

For the Chrome OS file manager there’s a very good chance that the changes will be far less subtle than a mere colour tint and drop shadow effect. In fact, there’s a good chance it will be unrecognisable from its current state.

Chrome File Manager Redesign — Is This It?

Google’s official Material Design documentation features a number of screenshots of a Chrome OS desktop with heavy material design influences.

Some of those images feature a file manager (or a desktop Google Drive app). Also note the Android-style coloured window frame, code for which landed in Chrome OS a while back.

material design file manager for chromebooks

Google’s own Material Design docs feature this file manager design

The same desktop app with the side drawer revealed

The same desktop app with the side drawer revealed

Are we looking at the new look Chrome OS file manager in the images above? That’s hard to know for sure. The images could simply be illustrating the specific examples being made in the documentation at the points they appear.

The sidebar also houses options more commonly associated with Google Drive (though it should be noted the same options are available in the sidebar of when accessing Google Drive).

Mock-ups of ideal designs and the real-world implementations we end up using often differ — sometimes drastically. The former is limited only by the imagination and skill of the designer, while the latter comes burdened by technical implementation, performance cadence and usability testing.

Coming in Chrome 42 — Plus a new Icon

New Files.App Icon

New Files.App Icon

The good news is that we may not have to wait too long to find out. Both this bug report and another which also gives us a look at a new icon, mention targeting the Chrome v42 milestone.

If the Chrome OS File Manager makeover can ‘materialise’ on target (and given that milestones slip all the time, it really is an ‘if’) we’ll find out all we want to know very shortly as Chrome 42 is due to branch next month.

  • Boothy

    Looks like it has some enhanced functionality to boot – Awesome!

  • crusaderad

    Looks great. Hopefully it works better than the Google Developers Cloud Console file browser, which is the worst file manager I’ve ever had the misfortune of using.

  • if it ends up looking like the concept that’d be great, but GPM didn’t end up looking like its concept.

    • GPM? Google… P…lay.. Manager? I don’t know what it is.

      But yes, you’re right. There are always differences between what one designers can do in Photoshop or Illustrator and what developers can make in 1’s and 0’s.

      • My guess is Google Play Music? I don’t know though, WTMA (Way Too Many Acronyms) :P

      • John Crane

        Google Play Music, such a shame it wasn’t the same as the concept when they were previewed.

        • I just hope they’ll come closer to it with more updates

      • Google Play Music :) it had such a gorgeous concept that hasn’t come to fruition so far

    • miri

      If you’re referring to the dark-themed music player shown during the keynote, that was just a generic mock up. They had a separate showing of the concepts for the Play apps in a different session and they all look pretty similar. I’m pretty sure everything that wasn’t specifically named as the MD update for an app was just a mock up so I doubt the file manager will look too much like this.

      • true, but many people, including myself, were hoping Google would implement some of the mockup concepts in GPM, such as the app colors changing in regards to what music is playing

        • miri

          They implemented it into the Listen Now page and the Wear app, just not the toolbar. Though interestingly enough Play Games, Movies and Newsstand do adapt their toolbar colors to the content. GPM doesn’t seem to have been fully redesigned so that may still show up.

  • Celso Rodrigues

    Looks pretty good!

  • William

    Looking very sleek!

  • ConCal

    I love it. I can’t wait for all of Chrome to get a redesign. It needs it.

  • Frederic MANSON

    Any changes will be very welcomed to the actual minimalist UI. I wanted something like the actual GDrive UI, which is clear and very useful. Now, if the changes bring more, then it’s OK. Despite all the problems I have with my very under powered CB HP11 G1, I can’t buy a laptop which is not a Chromebook. I found in this OS and hardware, 95% of my needs. The remaining 5%?? More storage (64 gigs as a minimum), a better integration of archives tools (password, foreign characters, multi parts archives, etc), more video codecs implementation, a true off-line Google Docs/Sheet/Slides app, an “external” embedded PDF reader, a power management app and a true integration of the Google Drive into the files manager.

  • micronaut

    w00t. make the world look like winblows 8. looks ok, but they should open it up to the community to build themes (numix is doing it better) and focus on functionality, like multi-archive support, video codecs with chromecast streaming support, more programming features like scripting languages e.g Python, R, an integrated C compiler like gcc maybe to jump on the “everybody must code” hype wagon and leverage the underlying Linux architecture. This would build up a community of hobbyist programmers like the Amiga and C64 had in the 90’s. But otherwise, looking forward to developments in 2015.

    • moe


      • Rob

        Winblows? Are you 5 years old?

        • micronaut

          was that your only comment? it was highlighting the irony of the statement, but unfortunately got lost on a dullard such as yourself.

  • ProfessorPortal

    I really like everything they’ve re-done according to the new material design save for one thing, the app drawer. The way it opens in the middle of the screen (not right next to where you just clicked) etc. It’s too touch originated and not mouse/keyboard friendly. Shame they probably won’t go back.

    • sup

      It looks like they’re moving the app drawer icon towards the middle of the screen so it will open right next to where you clicked.

      • liamdools

        Not anymore they aren’t. Now it’s just a search icon, which totally fixes the original issue.

  • Darren Bates

    Hopefully they’re adding that Dropbox integration we were teased…

    • pixelstuff

      I was just thinking the same thing. Wishing they would create a plugin system so Dropbox and OneDrive could be integrated and essentially support offline files from any cloud drive.

  • This looks amazing.

  • Ugh, that’s hideous. Chrome OS is slowly becoming Windows 8, trying to force tablet interfaces upon desktop users. With Chrome OS slowly growing into a tablet OS and Windows 10 bringing goodies for desktop users, I’m starting to think Google has absolutely failed at listening to what real customers want: a fast, no-frills, easy to use desktop/laptop OS. If we wanted tablets, we’d go for Android or iOS (or even Windows.)

    • tiamat2009

      Their real customers are not reading webistes like this… their “real” customers will love this. So do I.

      • xdigi

        “Real” customers aren’t going to care because they aren’t using Chrome OS. Nobody is.

        • Alex Louderback

          That explains why the top selling laptops in the world are Chromebooks… Please, return to your bridge, troll

          • xdigi

            lol “top selling laptops”.

            Okay Mr. Schmidt.

          • Alex Louderback


            You must not be able to do any research from under your bridge, you should use the internet and google it at your troll village, troll.

          • xdigi

            lol that’s your proof? You must be Eric Schmidt, because you’re talking out your you-know-what.

          • Alex Louderback

            What more proof do you want? Oh wait, forgot, you’re a troll, you can’t be pleased

            Thank you for comparing me to Eric Schmidt, he is one of the most successful men in the US, he helped create Java, and he is smarter and more powerful than a simple troll will ever be. (:

          • xdigi

            Except, no, Eric Schmidt is a dumb-as-a-brick idiot with his head firmly
            lodged up his you-know-what. Not somebody you really want to be proud of….

            You’d know that as soon as you hear him open his trap and say something inevitably dumb.

          • Alex Louderback

            Tell that to his degree from MIT

            Trust me, I’ve heard him say dumb things. But they aren’t half as dumb as the way you sound when you call him dumb.

          • xdigi

            lol, that doesn’t mean anything.

            And, yes, he is that dumb… and scary with his 1984 thinking.

          • Alex Louderback

            Alright, I’m done, you said an MIT degree means nothing. You win. Congrats. You are the king troll of all trolls.

          • xdigi

            You realise that they hand out degrees to any famous person like candy as long as they give a bunch of money, right?

          • Alex Louderback

            You realize he got his degree before he was famous, right?

          • xdigi

            Yeah, ok… if you say so Mr. Schmidt. /rolleyes

        • Flamebait, don’t bite.

  • brandall715

    Nice cant wait for this on my chromebook =]

  • tiamat2009

    They should rename material design to metro design

    • Kawshik Ahmed

      They may look similar at first glance but they are very different.

  • Shriram Bhat

    Looks beautiful!

  • xdigi

    Google stop, please. Your “material design” is just crap and nothing will change it. Either hire a competent designer or just stop making apps.

    • Huh, this is the first time I’ve heard of someone downright hating Material. Rather than bashing, I’m interested to know what it is you do not like about it. Personally, I think it’s a nice UI change, similar to how iOS and OS X are two very different products for very different purposes, yet they take design cues from one another. It’s definitely a lot better than the trainwreck that became “Modern UI” (formerly Metro) on Windows 8, because it forced a huge productivity loss for many users not on a touchscreen device. That disaster will be mostly fixed in Windows 10, but the damage was already done.

      • xdigi

        Because it’s the opposite of a good design. It’s as plain, generic, and boring as Twitter Bootstrap and nothing more than turning everything in to an ugly mobile skin, even on desktop websites.

        Attaching the word “design” to that abomination is a crime against nature.

        • And again, I see no problems with Twitter Bootstrap. I think we are going to differ on this, as I think mobile themes can easily work on the desktop when done right :)

      • ARB

        I also dislike what I’ve seen of it pretty substantially, but mostly for visibility reasons. It’s just a lot harder for me to focus my eyes on flat, monochromatic icons and backgrounds on my tablet — I need *some* sort of texture and detail, subtle it may be, for my eyes to focus properly on something, or at least something to draw my eye to detail to focus on. As bad design as it is to have a highly detailed desktop background behind a set of icons, it’s just as easy to have flat, monochrome icons become “lost” in a flat colored background.

        Windows 8, at least, had the sense to make their monochrome icons use extremely high contrast white-on-color, which means I can usually identify an icon before my eyes have fully focused.

        • I’ve actually never encountered this. I guess the human body likes familiar things, because I can actually agree with this. My Mac with OS X 10.5.8 looks *significantly* better than OS X Yosemite, because everything has so much detail. Perhaps if there was a way to provide a theme for apps, this problem could be fixed?

    • MattEliasR

      In this case the problem doesn’t seem to be related to the Material Design itself, but actually to the crappy implementation and lack of coherence. A more in-depth analysis is provided on this link:

  • Kevin Thomas

    Looking forward to the changes, and hopefully more functionality the future.

  • I’m not a huge fan, it feels to “windows-eighty” and clunky. I like the compressed minimalist because I don’t have to scroll as far to get where I wanna go. I’m more productive that way.

  • David Gabel

    I like the file manager. It’s just too bad that they could not include something like it in their Android builds, especially for Nexus devices.

    • Ryan

      Can I get an amen!? I hate having to use a third party app for this simple purpose. Also Android’s download manager is garbage and doesn’t manage files correctly. Spread the word!

    • Daniel DS

      But it would be too simple for too many users, just like Cyanogenmod’s file manager is, and those people will still migrate to using a root browser

  • Suhail

    Can we use this files app on chrome for windows or Mac?

    • Daniel DS

      Chrome OS only

    • A port should be feasible, given that Chromium OS is open source and the file manager APIs are part of Chrome. Therefore, someone could probably get a port working.

  • Gabriel Green Fusari

    How Can I update my chromebook?

    • kennedy m

      it does so automatically.

  • Dude

    Where are the images from?

  • xsudo

    Wow, that would be awesome if chrome OS got a Material revamp!

  • Kenny Strawn

    In the 42 Canary builds, although the design of the file manager itself is the same as before, I do have the new icon.

    On a related note, I wonder when that Material-style Ash “shelf” in those mocks will make it into actual Chrome OS builds. It would also be a nice tweak, and so would an Athena-style overview mode (if Google decides to implement it in Ash, because apparently they deleted the Athena source tree)…

  • Kenny Strawn

    Update: Apparently there’s also a feature request on the Chrome OS bug tracker detailing the progress…

  • StraightEdgeNexus

    Thing of beauty….

  • Is this available for Chrome OS Canary?

  • mikebar

    Hey there Chrome fans!

    Check out the all new SearchTop™ from wow/chrome!

  • Gaveasky .

    This is cool and all but, I’m a bit disappointed that even chromeOS is now shifting with the “material” bandwagon.

    First it was windows 8, then OSX, now COS. I personally like the way COS looks now and wish I could keep it.

  • shroomzofdoom

    You know what would be REALLY cool? Allowing me to access DLNA/network drives within Files app. Similar to the way Windows maps network drives.

  • Filippo Corti

    Hi everyone, first time on chrome os with arnold build. I cannot see any file on my drive through this new file manager. looks like it doesnt sync. any hepl? thanks

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