10 Tips and Tricks to Make the Most Out of Your Chromebook
Chromebooks are powerful machines for the average Joe and Jane. In the right hands, they can do much more than get the job done. However, since Chrome OS isn’t everyone’s wheelhouse, you may need some tips and tricks to make the most out of your Chromebook.
So, here are 10 tips for your Chromebook to make it work better and make your life a lot easier.
Enhancing Your Chromebook With Android
Android and Chrome OS are sister operating systems. They were designed to work together and complement each other. Hence, if you want to unleash the full potential of your Chromebook, you should pair it with your Android smartphone.
Here are 4 Chromebook tips to boost your Chromebook’s functionality with your Android smartphone.
1. Pair Your Android Smartphone With Your Chromebook
Before you enhance your Chromebook with your smartphone, you need to pair the two together. Luckily, since Android and Chrome OS were cut from the same cloth, you can pair both of them without breaking a sweat. After you set everything up, you can operate the two seamlessly together.
Note: You need to have a smartphone which runs Android 5.0 or later for this to work.
- Navigate to the bottom right of the task bar and click on the Status Area
- Click on the Settings icon on the pop-up menu
- Go to the connected Devices tab
- Then click on the “Set up” button
- Make sure that you turn on Bluetooth on your smartphone before the next step
- On your Chromebook, select your phone under the “Select a Device” dropdown list
- Click Accept
- Enter your Google account password
- Select Done
- After that, navigate to your newly setup device and toggle the “Disabled” toggle
- Then enter your password again to confirm
This will enable the Smart Lock and Messages feature on your Chromebook. Now, you can unlock your Chromebook with your smartphone, which gives it an extra layer of security. You can also receive your text messages on your Chromebook.
2. Install the Best Android Apps For Productivity
After you’ve paired your Android smartphone with your Chromebook, you can install Android apps seamlessly. Google has merged the two OS’ so that apps can work across systems. While this isn’t universally true, you can work with a lot of apps to integrate with Chrome OS. Functionality of course will differ by the app or the device.
- Go to the bottom right and select the Status Area
- Go to the settings icon
- Select the Google Play tab and toggle it on
- A window will open. There, select “More” and then click on “I Agree”
- Now you can install apps as you would on and Android smartphone or tablet
3. Choose the Beta/Developer Channel for the Newest Features
Chrome OS is based on the Chrome web browser. While that may be about to change soon, it doesn’t mean updates will change everything. Chrome OS updates include bug fixes and performance improvements along with new features. Therefore, you can test them in the OS Developer and Beta channels before they are rolled out.
Note: The Developer/Beta channel is primarily for the developers. Hence, it includes features that are buggy, unfinished, or underdeveloped. They may be unstable and may crash repeatedly under pressure, or because of optimization or compatibility issues. If you encounter problems, you can switch back to the Stable Release channel.
- Select the bottom right Status Area icon
- Go to settings
- Scroll to the bottom of the menu and select “About Chrome OS”
- Click on Detailed build Information in the tab
- Go to Channel, and click “Change Channel”
- Select “Beta” or “Developer-unstable”. You can return here and switch back to stable if you want
- Select Change Channel to confirm the choice
Make sure that you’re actually a developer if you’re doing this. Normal users may face a lot of difficulties with unstable releases.
Playing With Your Chromebook Settings
While apps and extensions are great, you should also know how to boost your Chromebook’s performance using Settings. So, here are 4 Chromebook tips to play with your settings to improve its productivity and your experience.
4. Enable the Night Light Immediately
By now you probably know what blue light does to your eyes. There is research which shows that it can even cause early onset blindness among older people. That’s why you should have a blue light filter on ALL of your devices which have a screen.
For your Chromebook, you just need to turn on the Night Light feature. Not only will it protect your eyes, but it will also allow you to go to sleep faster.
- Go to the Status Area on the bottom right and select Settings
- Then select the Displays tab
- Under Night Light, toggle to enable the feature.
You’ll see the screen glow much warmer. You can use the Color Temperature slider to configure how warm or cool you want the display to be.
You can also schedule the Night Light feature, but it’s recommended to leave it on all the time.
5. Use these Quick Keyboard Shortcuts
Save time working every day by using these quick shortcuts.
Press “Ctrl + Alt + ?” and you’ll see all the keyboard shortcuts you can use on your Chromebook.
6. Set Up Time Saving Shortcuts
Chrome OS is all about speed and snappy work. So, you should have the right shortcuts set up to do your work quickly.
The shortcuts at the bottom of your screen should only include the apps that you use most regularly. There should be no clutter there. If there are apps that you don’t use daily, or weekly, then get them out of there.
You can also add shortcuts to specific websites or web services you use all the time like Gmail or Google Drive. So, use the system tray to your advantage.
If there are websites that you use regularly, you can set up shortcuts with this simple trick:
- Go to the website and copy the URL (e.g. “abc12.com”)
- Then type in “chrome:settings/searchEngines” in the Chrome address bar and pull up Chrome’s custom search engine settings. Then click the “Add” button.
- Then write in a keyword that you will use to pull up the website (e.g. “beginning”)
- Then paste the URL in the URL area and add a “%s” to the URL.
- This way, you will be able to search up anything you want using this technique using a shortcut
7. Powerwash Your Chromebook for Optimal Speed
Powerwash is a feature which can free up space and make your Chromebook much faster. You’ve probably factory reset your phone or formatted a hard drive once in your life. That tends to speed up the computer. That’s only natural. The Powerwash feature can do that for your Chromebook.
Note: The Powerwash feature can permanently erase the data on your device, so be sure to backup everything that you don’t want to lose (go to Tip #2).
- Go to Settings through the Status Icon
- Scroll to the bottom and expand Advanced Settings
- Click reset Settings and then select Powerwash
- Click confirm, and then click on “Restart”
Boost Your Chromebook Internet Experience
Chromebooks are built to run the best when they’re paired with internet services. Hence, if you improve the internet connectivity or connectivity to internet services, your Chromebook experience is booster. So, here are 3 Chromebook tips to improve your Internet Experience.
8. Link Cloud Services to Your Chromebook for File Management Optimization
Chromebooks usually don’t have as much capacity is bigger laptops or desktop computers. However, that’s why there is 15 GB of space included in the Google Suite by default. That being said, you should keep the most critical files on your Chromebook, and then back up everything else via Google Drive.
- Navigate to the Chromebook Shelf and open Files
- Select the three dots menu on the top right and select “Add New Service”
- Then select “Install New Service”
- All the supported services for your Chromebook will be shown to you in a pop-up window
- Locate the service you want and then select “Install”
- When a confirmation window pops up, select “Add App”
- Then follow the on-screen prompts to configure the Google Drive service
9. Employ Third Party DNS (Domain Name Server)
Third party DNS’ are faster and more secure according to some. They’re a great way to get around any content blocks which are in place on your ISPs.
Not: Only do this if you’re well-versed in setting up DNS servers.
- Open Settings by going to the Status Area
- Click on the name of the network you want to change
- Then choose the network tab and choose the servers to use
- You’ll see some automatic Google options, or you can enter your own with “Custom name servers”
10. Don’t Miss Out on Your Chromebook Perks
Chromebooks give you a lot of perks right out of the box. Google throws freebies your way for actually purchasing hardware from them.
- Get 15% off on any Western Digital or SanDisk “Works With Chromebook” storage device
- Get a 3-month free trial of SoundCloud Go+ and listen to any indie artist you know
- Get a free month of Codeacademy
- Get 2 free months of Adobe Spark
- Get 12 months of 100 GB Google One Storage
- Get 12 moths of free 100 GB Dropbox space
You can get even more perks by heading to the Chromebook Perks Page.
These tips and tricks will get you so much more out of your Chromebook than you ever thought you could. It truly is a machine worth buying.