Chrome OS will soon be testing a frequently requested feature, the ability to have the current date and notification icons displayed in the corner of the shelf.

Update: Google has changed the flags that are used to add the date to your Chrome OS shelf.

For years now, Chromebook owners have been requesting the ability to show the date in the corner of the shelf, next to the current time. Over on the Chromebook Help community, a post requesting the addition of the date to the shelf has nearly 500 upvotes.

It seems Google is finally listening to the feedback, as a flag coming soon to chrome://flags points to Chrome OS getting the date in the shelf. Along with the date, the shelf will also be able to show “important” notifications.

Enable Scalable Status Area

Showing important notification icons and date in status area when the screen is sufficiently large.

#enable-scalable-status-area

We were able to get this updated shelf enabled in Chrome OS Canary, offering a look at how the date will appear in the corner. Next to the notification count, WiFi strength indicator, and battery indicator, you’ll see the current date and time printed in an abbreviated way, such as “Feb 15, 1:10.”


Update 4/22: Shortly after the above-mentioned flag was launched, Google reversed course and separated Chrome OS’s new date widget from the addition of notification icons. As spotted by Chrome Story, the feature now stands alone under yet another new flag in chrome://flags.

Enable Show Date In Tray

Showing date in status area when the screen is sufficiently large.

#enable-show-date-in-tray

Importantly, Google has somewhat fast-tracked the availability of having the date in your Chrome OS shelf, “cherry picking” the flag to be available in Chrome OS 90, which should be rolling out to Chromebooks on the stable channel in the near future. Meanwhile, the other additions to the shelf will be available under the original flag.


Notably, the date can only appear if you have the Chrome OS shelf pinned to the bottom of the screen, not the left or right. It’s uncertain for now whether this is a permanent limitation or if this will be improved before the feature leaves its testing phase.

As for the “important notification icons,” Chrome OS considers any notification that is “critical” to be important — such as a low battery warning. Similarly, any notification that is “pinned,” meaning it cannot be dismissed, is considered important. The best example of a pinned notification is Chrome OS’s Caps Lock indicator.

If you’re curious about the mention of your screen needing to be “sufficiently large,” we dug a bit deeper into what these mean. If your Chrome OS device has a display between 800 and 1280 pixels wide, you’ll only gain the important notification icons. Any larger than 1280 pixels wide, and your Chrome OS shelf will gain the date, too.

Google has been working on this “Scalable Status Area” that adds the date to the Chrome OS shelf since January. With that in mind, the earliest that this improvement to the shelf could arrive to try out via the above flag would be Chrome OS 90, set to arrive in April.

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