Top 10 tips and tricks for your Chromebook
I’m relatively new to the world of the Chromebook and Chrome OS. I’ve always been looking around for tips and tricks on how to make my Toshiba Chromebook do what I want it to do, and do something that I didn’t know that Chrome OS could do. So today, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 tips and tricks that just about anyone can do with Chrome OS.
How to take a screenshot
Yeah, I know this is a dumb one. However, surprisingly I have seen a fair amount of people ask how to do this on a Chromebook. Well there’s a few options. First, you could scour the Chrome Web Store and try out various extensions or apps like Awesome Screenshot or Nimbus, but those only work with just the webpages. If you want to say, screenshot a problem or issue that you’re having with your Chromebook, a webpage screenshot wouldn’t really help now would it. Well, in order to take an actual screenshot of your what you see on your Chromebook, simply press the ‘Ctrl’ and ‘Window Switcher’ keys at the same time. This captures your entire screen.
If you need to capture just a specific part of the screen, press ‘Ctrl’, ‘Shift’ and ‘Window Switcher’ at the same time and you will see a marker replace your cursor. Drag around the specific area you want to capture, and it will automatically save.
This comes in handy more often than not, and is essential to using just about any operating system, so it helps to know how to do this with Chrome OS too.
View all keyboard shortcuts
If you’re like me, and a n00b when it comes to keyboard shortcuts, you know how much of a pain it is to come across something that you’re used to doing on one OS, and not knowing how to do it on a Chromebook. Well, there’s a quick little keyboard shortcut to view ALL of the keyboard shortcuts. Simply press ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Alt’ + ‘?’ and that brings up a screen where you can see all the fun stuff.
Open apps in their own windows
We all know that there are loads of apps available via the Chrome Web Store, but there are sometimes those applications open within Chrome as if it were an extension. It can be annoying from time to time, and while it’s not a major inconvenience, there’s still a way to work around it. If you have an app within your App Drawer that you would like to have open in its’ own window, simply right click the app, set to “Open As Window’ and you’re ready to go. Now you when you want to open something in a separate window versus having 20 tabs open, you can have your Chrome apps open within their own dedicated windows. Makes for a much cleaner experience.
Add website shortcuts to launcher
While out of the box this feature isn’t enable, it’s fairly simple to enable this so that you can “save” your most visited site with ease. In order to add website shortcuts to your launcher, you’ll first ned to navigate to chrome://flags/#enable-streamlined-hosted-apps in your Chrome omnibox and click Enable. Once you’ve restarted your Chromebook, simply head on over to any website of your choice. Once you’re there, click on the menu in the top right hand corner, and navigate to More Tools. From here, you should see an option to Add shortcut to this website. After you’ve been given an option name the shortcut, click Add and your favorite website will be in your launcher for quick access.
Access Windows or Mac from your Chromebook
While everyone knows that a Chromebook can do a lot of things, there are still some instances, where a “regular” laptop or computer is still necessary. Well luckily, you can have the best of both worlds if you’re using your Chromebook. All you need is Chrome Remote Desktop. Simply install this on both your Chromebook and your laptop of choice so that you can get the settings correct. On your non-Chromebook, you’ll need to set up the “Remote Assistant” on both devices and then you’re ready to go and access any files or anything else that you may need to.
Change your Chromebook’s Release Channel
If you’re like me, you like to be on the cutting edge. That means Alpha’s, Beta’s, Developer Preview’s, the whole nine yards. Well with Chrome OS there are three different channels to use on your Chromebook. The three different channels are Stable, Beta, and Development. The Stable channel is what your Chromebook ships with, while the Beta and Development channels are where the fun starts. You can test out new features before the “general public” gets their hands on them, and you will also enjoy more frequent updates. The Development channel is where the bleeding edge of Chrome OS lives, but be careful as the updates for this channel are not intended for the weak of heart.
Now if you want to actually change your channel from Stable to the Beta or Development channels, there’s a fairly easy process to follow. First, before doing anything, make sure that all your local files are backed up. Since all Chromebooks come with extra Google Drive storage, this one should be easy to do. You can also take advantage of the fact that most Chromebooks have expandable SD Card slots if you want portable storage.
After everything is setup follow the steps here:
- Open Settings in the status area where you see the time and your profile picture
- Scroll down until you see your version number and click on it
- Click “Advanced Setting” to show more options.
- Click the box underneath “Channel” and choose which channel you want to run.
After you have chosen which Channel you would like to be using, Chrome will detect a software update, and will upgrade you to the Channel of choice. Just remember, you’re playing with fire now, so keep the extinguisher close by.
Change the default download location
If you are taking advantage of all that lovely free (for two years) Google Drive storage, you may want to consider doing this, to keep your Chromebook running fast. In order to change the default download location from the tiny SSD on your Chromebook, to Google Drive, simply follow the steps here:
- Click the Chrome Menu in the toolbar.
- Navigate to Settings
- Click Show Advanced Settings and scroll to the “Downloads” section.
- Click “Change” and select which directory you would like your files to be saved to.
This has come in handy, especially considering the fact that my Toshiba Chromebook only has a 16GB SSD, and I don’t want it to get bogged down with unnecessary files if I have plenty of storage available elsewhere.
Create recovery image on a flash drive or SD card
This is one of those last ditch effort kind of things, but this recently saved my Chromebook from sure disaster. If for whatever reason your Chromebook decides to crash one day, this will help in the process of recovering everything, or at least getting your Chromebook up and running again. Creating a recovery image is really simple on the Chromebook, and if you have a decently sized flash drive or SD card, you’ll have no problems getting this one set up.
In order to create a Chromebook recovery image, you’ll need a SD card or USB drive with at least 4GB of memory on it. Now in order to create the recovery image you need to:
- Enter chrome://imageburner into the Chrome omnibox
- Insert your method of backup, and the Chromebook will automatically detect and format the USB drive or SD card.
- After a few moments, you’ll begin to see the Chromebook doing it’s thing, and while the screens may look a little odd, don’t fret.
- After the various screens and everything are done popping up, your Chromebook will let you know when it’s completed and you can remove the memory storage of choice.
Now you’ve got a recovery image on standby for whenever the crap hits the fan.
Invert scrolling on your trackpad
I’m a long time Mac OS X user. I love everything about their MacBook Pro, and it’s my “workhorse” for my day to day comings and goings. One thing that I have the toughest time with, when switching between OS X and my Chromebook is the trackpad. On OS X, the default scrolling pattern for the trackpad is called “Natural”. This is where moving your fingers up on the trackpad, scrolls the page down, and moving your fingers down on the trackpad, scrolls the page up. Think of how you navigate and scroll through your smart phone.
Well, recently Chrome OS added the ability to configure your trackpad for what’s called “Australian” scrolling, which is the same way that OS X defaults to. In order to do this, click the “status area” where you see the time and your profile picture. Select Settings and find the “Device” section. From here, you can change the Pointer speed, toggle Tap-to-click, Swap primary mouse, and Australian scrolling. Toggle the last one, and you’re scrolling like a normal
*Bonus* DO A BARREL ROLL
While getting to know my Chromebook, I was perusing the web for different tips and tricks for more advanced users, and I still managed to come across this one. You’ve gotta love Easter Eggs, and this one is no different. While in Chrome, press and hold: Ctrl+Alt+Shift+ Reload, and watch the fun happen.
Today, we took a look at a few of the basic and a few of the more intermediate tips and tricks for Chrome OS and your Chromebook. We’ll be back with more tips and tricks in the future. In the meantime, let us know below what you’ve learned about your Chromebook, as well as what Easter Eggs you’ve found.