The Chromebook is a terrific device and one of the best budget laptops on the market. Most people think this is a simple laptop with only Internet access. However, once you become familiar with the following advanced Chromebook tips, you might need your own Chromebook.
The tips below will allow you to remotely access your device from your desktop computer, navigate Chrome faster with gestures, use voice translation for dictation, and even launch Android apps.
See all open apps at once
On Windows 10, you can use Windows + Tab to see all open apps. On Mac, you can use Command + Tab. But how do you see all open apps on a Chromebook?
It’s just as easy to do this on a Chromebook, and there are several options.
The fastest way is to swipe down with three fingers on the touchpad. This opens a quick display of images of all open applications on the screen.
This is called Chrome browse mode. You can also enable it by pressing the sixth key in the top row of the keyboard (the icon is a window with two lines to the right of it).
Use Android Apps
Did you know that Chromebooks can install Android apps from Google Play? This is true, but only if you have a new Chromebook that supports this feature.
- To enable this, open your Chromebook’s Settings and select Apps from the left menu.
- On the right, you should see the Google Play Store under “Manage your apps”.
- Select “Enable” to enable this feature. If you don’t see this, then your Chromebook does not support this feature. Or you may need to update your Chrome OS.
- Check for Chrome OS updates by going to Settings, selecting About Chrome OS and to the right of the current version of Chrome OS by selecting Check for Updates.
Note. The ability to install Android browsers from the Google Play store means you can use non-Chrome browsers on your Chromebook.
Once this feature is enabled, open your Chrome browser and visit the Google Play Store You can search and select Install for any app you want to use on your Chromebook.
This is really useful for apps that you would normally not be able to use on your Chromebook, such as using the Hue app to control the Philips Hue lighting, using the Prime Video app to stream movies, or using your favorite Android image editing apps on your Chromebook.
Create Chrome OS Launcher folders
You can launch the Chrome OS Launcher by selecting the circle in the lower left corner of the screen and clicking the up arrow.
Here you will see all the available apps on your Chromebook. But what if you don’t need a long list of apps? Why not organize these apps into folders?
To do this, you need to select one of the applications and drag it over the other. This will create a folder that you can click to open and name the folder.
This allows you to convert multiple pages of many applications into one page with applications organized in multiple folders.
If you ever want to pull any app out of the folder, just open the folder, select the app, and drag it to the launch page outside of the folder.
Navigate Chrome with Gestures
If you want to improve your experience in Chrome browser, you can navigate web pages and tabs using finger gestures on the touchpad.
Here’s how it works:
- Browser Back or Forward buttons: Swipe left or right with two fingers.
- Switch to the next or previous tab: swipe right or left with three fingers.
- Open link in new tab: Tap the touchpad with three fingers when the mouse is over the link.
- Close a tab: Tap the touchpad with three fingers when the mouse pointer is over a tab in the title bar.
The ability to scroll down a web page, or select Back or Forward by simply swiping your fingers across the touchpad, gives you incredible Internet speed.
Use the embedded voice to text
Here’s a really helpful Chromebook tip that few people know about. You can enable a feature on your Chromebook that detects whatever you say in whatever Chromebook app you currently have open. There is also a function that will read out any text you choose.
- To enable these features, open your Chromebook preferences, select Advanced in the left pane, and then select Accessibility.
- Select Accessibility Management.
- Finally, in the Text-to-Speech section, turn on Turn on Speech to Press. Scroll down to the Keyboard and Text Input section and turn on the Enable Dictation (Speak to Type) option.
To use voice highlighting, highlight the text on the page that the Chromebook should read to you and press Search + s on your keyboard.
You will see how each word stands out as you speak. This feature is a great way to receive news, emails, or other information while you are doing other work.
To use voice input, select the document or field where you want to place the dictated text. Then press Search + d on your keyboard. Now as you speak, you will see the words appear.
A few things to keep in mind when using the talk and type feature.
- If you pause too long after you stop talking, the feature turns off and you have to turn it back on.
- This feature is best used for messaging applications or other applications that do not require proper capitalization after periods. Automatically capitalizing a document does not work when using a Chromebook to enter text.
Make your downloads go to Google Drive
Every time you download files from the Internet, those files go to a local download location on your Chromebook.
If you prefer that all your downloads automatically go to a specific Google Drive folder, you can change this default.
- To do this, open the Chrome browser, select the three dots in the upper right corner of the window and select Settings.
- Scroll down to the Downloads section and select Edit next to Location.
- Select Google Drive in the left pane and navigate to the folder where you want to download files from the Internet.
- With a folder selected, click Open to select it as the default download location.
Chromebook integration with additional cloud storage
Most people think they are stuck with using Google Drive as their cloud storage if they are using a Chromebook. It’s not like that at all. You can also connect your Chromebook to other cloud storage services such as Dropbox, or even a file share you’ve set up on your network.
- To do this, open the Files app and select the three dots in the upper right corner of the window. Select Add New Service, and then select Install New Service.
- The Available Services window will open. Scroll down this window and select Install on the cloud services you want to connect to your Chromebook. Then, in the pop-up window, select Add Application. A window of this application will open with the option to “connect” this cloud storage account.
- When this is complete, you will see the new cloud service storage mounted the same as Google Drive.
Use your Android device to log in to your Chromebook
Are you annoyed with having to log into your Chromebook every time you start it up? The login screen is good for security, but there is another way.
You can link a Chromebook to an Android phone to use the Android phone as a virtual “dongle” to the Chromebook. This means you no longer have to enter your password whenever you want to use your Chromebook.
- To customize this, open your Chromebook preferences and select Connected Devices.
- In the Connected section of devices, select Configure under Android Phone.
- Follow the wizard by choosing Accept and Continue, enter your Google password and select Done.
- You will now see your phone in the Connected Devices section. Select it and in the next window turn on the Smart Lock function.
- Select Smart Lock and on the next screen under Lock screen options select Unlock device and sign in to your Google account.
Now, the next time you launch your Chromebook, your phone will automatically unlock the Chromebook and sign in to your Google account for you.
Note. If the Smart Lock enable switch is grayed out, remove the phone and then add it again. Sometimes it takes a few minutes to activate the service and this step is necessary for Smart Lock to work properly.
Experience Microsoft Live Wallpaper
Do you like Microsoft Live wallpapers when the background on the login screen changes daily? You can enjoy the same experience on your Chromebook thanks to the new Chrome OS wallpaper tool. Images of cityscapes, landscapes, etc. will appear on your desktop.
- To enable this, simply right-click (Alt-click) any area of ??your desktop and select Set Wallpaper.
- In the next window, select Citiscapes, Landscapes or Art. then enable daily update for the first image to enable the automatic update function.
- This will cycle through all of these images every day until it reaches the end of the list and then starts over again.
View your Chromebook from your desktop
One of the coolest features that Google has offered in recent years is Chrome Remote Desktop. Here, you can share your entire desktop with anyone on the Internet right from your Chrome browser. This feature lets you view and control your Chromebook from your desktop computer.
- To use it, first visit https://remotedesktop.google.com/support” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Google Remote Desktop from your Chromebook.
- For Get Support, select Generate Code.
- This will generate a one-time code that you should write down somewhere.
- Go to your desktop computer and go to the same https://remotedesktop.google.com/support” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Google Remote Desktop page (https://remotedesktop.google.com/support
You will need to approve your Chromebook screen sharing request. When you’re done, you can remotely access and interact with your Chromebook right from your Windows screen!
These are some of the more advanced Chromebook features that you can access if you have a Chromebook. If you have time, you can also learn how to take a screenshot on a Chromebook or how to run Linux apps on a Chromebook.