Chromebook tricks and guide to work online and offline

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Carlos Priora
@carlospriora
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Chromebooks are cheap laptops that have the Chrome OS operating system, a modified version of the Google Chrome browser adapted to use apps and extensions as if they were real PC programs. Chrome OS has matured a lot since its initial launch and is much more than just a browser with pop-up windows - it has become a functional operating system also for work on the computer in a traditional way, without limitations.

In this guide to Chromebooks we will show you the more hidden functions in Google laptops which, remember, you can buy online on Amazon (or even on Amazon.de) at a really advantageous price (usually not exceeding 500 Euros).

READ ALSO -> 10 reasons to buy a Chromebook

Install Android apps on the Chromebook


On Chrome OS we can download and use Android apps on the Chromebook using the app Google Play Store, so you can benefit from the apps made for mobile devices but adaptable without problems for use on a laptop screen (just think of the Office apps or Adobe Acrobat Reader). To proceed, press the clock at the bottom right, select the item Settings and, in the Google Play Store section, we click on Attiva next to the item Install Google Play apps and games on the Chromebook, we press on Other and finally on Accept.

Now we will be able to launch Android apps on Chromebooks by opening the Google Play Store app, maximizing the productivity and usability of the new notebook. To find out which apps to install on Chromebook we can read our guide Best free Android Apps to download for every category.

Cast your screen to Chromecast or Google TV


Chromebooks can connect to an external monitor or to the TV through a normal HDMI cable, alternatively we can use the Google Cast protocol to transmit a browser card or the entire Chromebook screen, without using any wire. To use this connection method, press on the clock icon at the bottom right, make sure that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are active then press on transmission devices available, select the Chromecast, the Chromecast Google TV or the Smart TV with Google TV as the operating system and finally press on Share. To share the browser tab we can use the method available on any Google Chrome: let's go to the tab to be transmitted then press the three dots at the top right and finally on Broadcast, so you can select the Google Cast compatible broadcasting device.

To learn more we can also read our guide Watch streaming videos and movies from your PC on TV with Chromecast.

Configure Zoom on Chrome devices


One of the essential services to be able to work smartly with the Chromebook is Zoom, which has now become a reference point for videoconferencing. Zoom is currently compatible with Chrome OS for launching directly into the browser, but features are limited compared to versions that can be installed on Windows, Mac or Linux.

In any case, we can always start a meeting or participate in a meeting using only Google Chrome, as also seen in our guide How to enter Zoom from a PC or Smartphone when an invitation is received.

Mouse and keyboard tricks and options


Compared to traditional laptops, the Chromebook is inspired by MacBooks and has a touchpad that supports finger gestures. A right mouse button is missing, which is replaced with a two-finger tap. The mouse wheel is also missing, replaced by dragging two fingers down and up on the touchpad; the wheel button, the central one, is done by tapping the touchpad with three fingers.

In the Chrome settings you can change the pointer speed and the click with a touch; if you prefer, you can connect a traditional mouse to the Chromebook, either with the USB port or with a Bluetooth device.
Keyboard shortcuts are just as important to working with a Chromebook as they are on any other laptop. The Chromebook supports all standard keyboard shortcuts, including Ctrl-C, Ctrl-X, and Ctrl-V for copying, cutting, and pasting.
By pressing Ctrl-Alt-? an interactive diagram opens showing all the keyboard shortcuts available, also visible on this help page. For example, you can take screenshots by pressing Ctrl-Switch Window (which is a double rectangle key located at the top of the keyboard).

The screenshot is saved as a png file in the local file storage, which can be browsed from the Files app pre-installed on the Chromebook.

Working offline


Chromebooks, being based on a web browser, perform at their best when connected to the Internet; Chromebooks can still work offline too, although offline access must be set to avoid getting stuck. The only condition is to use Google services and, specifically, Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar that support offline use. In other articles the guides to use Gmail offline and the apps Google Docs offline. Similarly, from the gear icon you can enable Google Calendar offline after installing the Google Calendar app.

In addition to traditional apps we can find many Chrome applications that also work offline, including photo editor and notepad to write. A useful trick is to access a web page in offline mode, using the print option and saving that page as a PDF in the local memory.

Expand internal memory


Chromebooks offer local storage so you can save files and download them from the internet. In this space you can save photos, mp3 files, videos or whatever you want to keep for offline use. Chromebooks also support flash drives, USB sticks and SD cards so you can open PDF files, Microsoft Office documents, images, videos and even music files with Chrome using the Files application, which works in a similar way. to Windows Explorer.

If the internal space is too little, it is better to bet everything on the cloud synchronized with Google Drive or use an external USB drive, as seen in our guides Download Google Drive on Windows, Mac, Android and iPhone, with 15 GB Cloud and Office app e Best Portable Hard Drives.

Print


Chromebooks support both Wi-Fi printers and USB-connected printers, although it is currently preferable to use Wi-Fi mode to connect them thanks to the greater compatibility of the print server included in the Chrome OS operating system. To proceed, press the clock icon at the bottom right, open the menu Settings, we select the item Advanced, let's go to the Print and scan section, select the item Printers and, at the end of the scan, check the Printers available to save section by pressing the button Save next to the displayed printer.

If the printer is not displayed, make sure it is turned on and connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the Chromebook, also following the suggestions in the guide How to connect and configure the printer in WIFI.

Scan

With a Chromebook it's easy to scan sheets from the printer to scan and save important documents. The Scan app allows you to choose the printer, file type and resolution and works both for scanning via wifi or via cable connection. Once the file is scanned, you can find it in the dedicated folder in the Chromebook's Files app and open it in the default image viewer to edit, crop, or resize it.

Remote access


One of the strengths of Chromebooks is the ability to remotely access a Windows, Linux, or Mac computer from the Chromebook using the Chrome Remote desktop. We explained how simple it is to install the app Chrome remote desktop to access any PC from Chrome via the internet, shared using the same application.

Useful applications for Chromebooks


Google Docs on Chrome is the obvious choice for working on your computer with programs similar to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. In any case, Microsoft also offers online Office applications in the Chrome web store to use Word Excel and PowerPoint via Chromebook. You can also use the web-based version of Apple iWork on a Chromebook by visiting the iCloud site, just like you would on Windows.

Chrome OS has integrated a small image editor, but the app to work photos and images even without being online is Pixlr Editor, similar to Photoshop, very fast and complete to resize, crop, write and apply filters on images. There is also Web Paint, a real program for drawing.

Those who work on the PC as a webmaster or blogger can use Caret as an app to edit the code as they would with Notepad ++.
Google Keep is the best app for taking notes synchronously with other computers and mobiles while Any-do is a great to-do organization tool, which also works offline.

Applications can also be installed on Chromebooks always downloadable from the Chrome web Store such as, for example: Duolingo and Evernote and Sight Words.
They open in separate windows, are identical to the same smartphone and tablet apps, and also work offline.

In this page you can find a long one list of applications that work on Chromebooks.

VPN connections


The Chromebook can connect to any VPN network with L2TP, IPsec, PSK, OpenVPN and certificate-based authentication support. Other types of VPNs do not work and you cannot install external programs, as already mentioned, which are incompatible. To connect to a VPN, open the Chromebook Settings page and add a new private network under the connections section.

If you don't know which VPN to use, please read our guide Best free VPN services and programs for safe and free surfing.

Integration with Google Drive and its apps


With Chromebook we will have full support for Google Drive and heavy apps for use in the cloud, available both as extensions for Google Chrome and as a stand-alone app to install.

To learn more, we can read our guide to best apps / extensions for Google Drive on Chrome, which work very well on a Chromebook and which use Google Drive as an archive to save files online.

Map a network drive


To connect to resources shared by another computer or a NAS on the same network as the Chromebook, all we have to do is press the clock at the bottom right, take us to the menu Settings, open the section Advanced, press on the menu Fillet, press on File sharing on the network and finally press on Add network share; in the window that opens, insert the network path and access credentials (if required) then click on Add to add any local network resource.

To learn more we can read our guides Share files between PCs and view shared folders (Windows, Mac, Linux) e Buying a Network NAS Storage: what is it for and how much does it cost.

Account checked

If we let our son or daughter use the Chromebook, it is possible to create an account controlled through Google Family Link, which is integrated into the Chromebook. In this page, in addition to the guide to set up a controlled account, all the conditions are listed, including that of not being able to browse anonymously, choosing blocked sites and being able to see the history.

Voice Assistant

As on smartphones, the Google voice assistant is also integrated on Chromebook PCs, to control every function with your voice. From the settings (as you can see in this guide) it is then possible to activate Google Assistant which can then be called up at any time by saying the words OK Google (or by pressing the search keys + A or by holding down the app start button on the touchscreen screens) . Chromebooks are the only portable PCs with a true and effective voice assistant (nothing to do with those of Windows 10 and Mac OS).

Troubleshooting

For any problem on your Chromebook, you can use the built-in diagnostics app to check the source of the problem and find the fastest solution. The Diagnostics app is available on all Chromebooks and can be used to test and check the battery, CPU, and memory status of your laptop.

Conclusions


A Chromebook can be a good choice for those looking for a computer that is always fast, that does not require antivirus and that has all the tools to work and study, without feeling the lack of Windows too much (although it is not compatible with the classic .exe) . We remind you that Chromebooks are available inexpensively compared to Windows laptops and offer exaggerated, comparable and better performance than a Macbook, you can already do almost everything and more will be feasible in the future.

ALSO READ: Best Chromebooks to Buy, Super Fast Google Laptops


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