21 Important Suggestions for First-Time Chromebook Customers

So you've considered the pros and cons of the Chromebook and now you have a shiny new Chromebook. Good choice – it's a versatile laptop option with a brilliant selection of customization options.

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However, Chromebooks have a learning curve and feel different, for example, than a MacBook or a surface laptop. You may also be wondering what you can do with a Chromebook or how to set it up.

Here are the best tips and tricks for new Chromebook owners.

1. Create multiple user profiles

Chromebooks use Chrome well User profile With this function you can divide your computer into separate profile logins. Each profile manages its own apps, settings and controls. Are you the only user on your device? You should continue to use multiple profiles

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But Chromebook user profiles are crucial when you have children. Google has abolished monitored profiles and replaced them with the Google Family Link, which is very similar. Follow Christian's tutorial on installing Google Family Link on Android

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to create secure accounts for your children. The process is the same for a Chromebook.

2. Use guest mode for guests

Even if you do not use the profile function mentioned above, you should be aware of it Guest mode. In guest mode, you can share your device with another person and be sure that they can never see your data (e.g. browsing history, downloads, bookmarks, etc.) or access your apps.

And when the guest is finished, all traces of their activity are deleted from your device – no manual cleaning required. This may sound similar to incognito mode in Chrome. However, please note that guest mode and incognito mode are not the same

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3. Open apps in a separate Windows

Since all Chromebook apps are actually disguised web apps, first-time users are usually discouraged from the fact that apps are always opened in Chrome. Fortunately, it is possible to force any app installed open in a separate window.

Find the desired app in the App Launcher or in the task bar, right-click on it and select Open as a window. As simple as that! Now your device feels like a real laptop, not just like a glorified Chrome browser.

4. Organize apps in folders

Create a Chromebook app folder

If you use your device more and more often, you will soon collect too many installed apps to turn your head around. While the App Launcher makes it easy to launch an app with a quick search, you may prefer to type or click. In this case you should take advantage App folder.

Open the app launcher and click All appsThen drag any app icon onto another app icon to group them in a folder. Drag as many symbols as necessary. To name the folder, click on it and change "Untitled Folder" to any folder above.

5. Turn websites into apps

Launch Chromebook Set website as an app

Keep in mind that Chromebook apps are basically just websites disguised as apps. While this has some disadvantages, it has one really useful advantage: You can turn any website into an app and run it in its own separate window.

Open Chrome, navigate to the website you want to use as an app, and click Three-point button top right. Go down there More tools, then choose Create link. Give the app a name and check it Open as a windowThen click Add.

6. Preview the files before opening

Spacebar for Chromebook file details

One of the coolest things about Finder on macOS

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is that you can highlight almost any file and press spacebar to get a preview of that file without actually starting it in its app. Did you know that Chrome OS also has a similar preview function?

Open that Files App, select a file without actually opening it and press Spacebar. You will see an overlay with some file details (e.g. size, type, last modified time, etc.) and some information specific to the file type (e.g. ID3 tags for MP3s). Some types, such as pictures and audio, also have a preview.

7. Snap Windows on the left and right

If you have a Chromebook that supports a resolution of 1920 × 1080 or higher, you probably don't want to maximize your apps. For better productivity, you can make better use of your screen by keeping two windows open side by side.

An easy way to do this is Drag the windows to the left or right edge. and Chrome OS automatically snaps them to the side and fills half the screen. Or you can select a window and press Alt + ( for a left snapshot or Alt +) for a real snapshot.

8. Force shutdown for frozen apps

Chromebook Chrome OS Task Manager

On Chrome OS, you’ll probably not find frozen apps as often as on Windows or even Mac. In this case, you just have to open the Task Manager with the Search key + escape Keyboard shortcuts.

Once that is open, just locate the frozen process, select it and click End process. Task Manager is one of the most important features of Chrome OS. Therefore, make sure that you use this important system function

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9. Force restart a frozen system

In the rare event that an error occurs at the system level, Task Manager may not open or may not be able to share your device. In this case you can always use the "last resort" option: Hard restart.

Each Chromebook comes with a special set of media keys above the row of numeric keys. One of them is the Refresh button (similar to a circular arrow). Another is the on / off button (looks like a circle with a vertical line). Press Power + Refresh restart immediately.

Note that this will Lose unsaved data in open apps. Also note that this is not the same as a power wash, which is discussed in more detail below.

10. Master the integrated search key

A special feature of Chromebook keyboards is the lack of a Windows or command key. Instead, Google replaced the Caps Lock key with one Search keythat opens the app launcher when pressed.

This key is useful in three ways:

  1. Start each app quickly by entering its name. In that sense, it's very similar to the Windows 10 Start menu and Mac Spotlight.
  2. Quickly launch a website URL or search engine query.
  3. Activate voice search by clicking the microphone button.

It may be strange to use Caps Lock this way, but it's one of those things where going back is impossible once you get into the groove.

11. Re-bind the special keys

Chromebook special key settings

Chrome OS treats five keys as special, so you can re-bind them as needed: Find, Ctrl, Alt, Backspace, and Escape. You can bind them to all the other five as well as to Caps Lock, Google Assistant and Disabled. Do you hate the search key? Restore the Caps Lock key here. Or turn it off entirely.

Click your profile icon in the lower right and then click Gear icon Open settings. Go to Device> keyboard. Simply change the key assignment with the dropdown menus. You can also turn the top row media buttons into function buttons by selecting the check box.

12. Learn the system keyboard shortcuts

Chromebook keyboard shortcut glossary

Chromebooks not only have a different keyboard layout, but also different keyboard shortcuts for actions at the system level. Fortunately, Google has made learning these new links extremely easy using another link. Beat CTRL + ALT +? (Yes, the question mark button) and you go to the Chromebook shortcut glossary.

Enter a letter to find the link you want. You can search the glossary by letter or key for which you want to find the link, or for which Chromebook links a particular combination is used. It lists all the possible Chromebook shortcuts, starting with the most popular options.

With our overview of the most important Chromebook shortcuts, you can get started

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13. Right-click and click the touchpad with the middle mouse button

I hated my first three days on my Chromebook because the touchpad doesn't contain mouse buttons. This made surfing the internet a nightmare because I had no right or middle click access. As it turns out, both actions are easier than I thought.

To Right clickYou only need to tap the touchpad with two fingers at the same time. To Middle clickYou only need to tap the touchpad with three fingers at the same time. This tip alone will make your Chromebook a million times better.

14. Wipe your finger on the touchpad

Chromebook three-finger gesture show all screens

All modern Chromebooks have a gesture-capable touchpad. These gestures will change your life. While many gestures are supported, there are four in particular that every Chromebook novice should know:

  1. Swipe horizontally with two fingers go back and forth in Chrome.
  2. Swipe vertically with two fingers scroll up and down.
  3. Swipe horizontally with three fingers move between open tabs in Chrome. This is even faster than using it Ctrl + Tab.
  4. Swipe down with three fingers to open the Task Switcher, which distributes all open apps from a bird's eye view.

15. Quickly free up space

Chromebook storage options

All Chromebooks come with an SSD for data storage. While this is good news for speed and performance, there is one downside: many Chromebooks come with very small SSDs. On the one hand, this is great because it keeps the cost of a new Chromebook low. On the other hand, you can quickly run out of storage space.

This is why managing storage space is so important. Click your profile icon in the lower right and then click Gear icon Open settings. In the Device section, click Memory management. Here you can see what is taking up space on your system and delete it with a click if necessary.

With some Chromebooks, you can swap the SSD for a larger one. Turning off the SSD will void your warranty. Be sure to check this before doing hardware upgrades. If you don't want to tinker with the hardware, look for the cheapest cloud storage providers

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16. Disable sleep mode

Chromebook idle power options

For a long time, Chrome OS did not offer users an effective way to manage idle time and screen power management. Fortunately, this is no longer the case.

Go to Settings> Power supplyand you can choose what your Chromebook should do when it’s idle. For reference, your Chromebook will start to idle after about 10 minutes. You can opt for idle status, switch off the display or leave the display switched on.

The latter option is what many users need. It's frustrating to go back to a sleeping Chromebook. There is also the option to switch off Sleep when the cover is closedStop your device every time you close the lid.

Some users may find their access to such settings unavailable due to school or business management settings. If that sounds like you, check out this Chrome extension that disables sleep mode

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. In addition, the Keep Awake extension lets you choose between screen-only sleep and screen and system sleep modes.

17. Take simple screenshots

How should you take a picture of your screen if your Chromebook doesn't have a Print Screen button? Just press Ctrl + switch window key. (Change window is a special key in the top row that looks like a rectangle with two vertical lines next to it.)

Saved screenshots will appear in your download folder, which you can access with the file app. Note that you can also use Ctrl + Shift + switch window to limit your screenshot to a specific area of ​​the screen.

18. Activate optional functions with flags

Chromebook flag options

Open Chrome and type chrome: // flags in the URL bar to access a number of optional Chrome OS features.

Note that these optional features may not be completely stable. At best, they may not work as intended. In the worst case, they can be flawed enough to cause data loss. Most of them are nearly stable and extreme errors are rare, but there is always a risk with these optional features.

If you're new to Chromebooks and Chrome OS in general, it's a good idea to research what these options do before you start fiddling.

19. Experimental functions on beta and development channels

Development channel for Chromebook switches

If you're feeling adventurous but don't want to mess with the optional flags above, consider switching to that Beta channel or Development channel.

The beta channel provides low-risk insight into upcoming features, about a month before the stable channel. The Dev channel provides a high-risk, error-prone view of experimental functions well ahead of the stable channel. To switch to beta or dev channels:

  1. Click your profile icon at the bottom right.
  2. Press the Gear icon Open settings.
  3. Click at the bottom of the left pane About Chrome OS.
  4. click Additional details.
  5. Press the Change channel Button.
  6. Select either the beta or the dev channel.

If you want to minimize system crashes and potential data loss, stick to the stable channel. Switching from an experimental channel to a stable channel will erase everything from your Chromebook, including the accounts!

20. Factory reset with Powerwash

If you ever want to start from scratch with a blank slate, plan to sell your Chromebook, or if you ever encounter a catastrophic error that causes your system to keep crashing, you may need to do so Powerwash Your device.

Powerwash is Google's term for "factory reset". It erases all of the data on your Chromebook and returns to the factory state. Despite the loss of local data, your Google accounts and profiles will not be affected and your data will not be synchronized with the Google cloud.

For more information, see our article on reformatting your Chromebook

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21. Turn on the Google Assistant

Chromebook Google Assistant

You can use the Google Assistant on your Chromebook to view notifications, use OK Google, and other useful information. Google Assistant can help new Chromebook users find their way around the new device. Practical tooltips for your current activity and further information are displayed.

To turn on Google Assistant, click your profile icon in the lower right corner and then click Gear icon Open settings. Go to Search and Assistant> Google Assistant.

Other Chromebook tips you might like

As with all computers, Chromebooks slow down over time due to wear and accumulation of garbage. Fortunately, you can take steps to speed up your Chromebook and restore performance

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. If you're looking for a change in the Chromebook scene, look for the best Chromebooks for every type of user

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One last thing: Although I sing their praises and think they are the best device for occasional home use, Chromebooks are not perfect. If you want to try something different, install Linux on your Chromebook as follows

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