Can I install software on my Chromebook? – This is one of the first questions new Chromebook users ask. And the answer is yes and no. Well, it used to be mostly “No” because there were no programs for Chromebooks because everything happened on the web. But lately, things changed and there are more native apps coming to Chrome OS which you can call “software” or “programs” for Chrome (and Chrome OS) to certain extent.

Let us take a look at this in detail.

Web Apps

Web Apps are mostly websites that you access using your Chromebook. You can install web apps from the Chrome Web Store. These apps add icons to your apps menu (similar to your Android or iOS device). You click them to open those apps/websites.


Pretty simple and straight forward, right? And in case you were wondering, you can always open those web apps on your browser without installing the app.

These may not work when your are offline (without internet)

Native Apps for Chromebooks

Chromebooks have their own apps called “packaged apps”. These apps work on Chromebooks and Chrome browser on Windows or OSX as well.  They work offline too, by default.

chromebook  How do I Install Software / Programs on My Chromebook?

Here is the official description:

These combine the best of websites and native applications — they’re available offline & from any computer, are always up to date, and they can communicate with devices like USB drives & Bluetooth speakers.

You can install them from the packaged apps section of the Chrome Web Store.

Here is one more introduction for packaged apps, written for developers

Packaged apps deliver an experience as capable as a native app, but as safe as a web page. Just like web apps, packaged apps are written in HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS. But packaged apps look and behave like native apps, and they have native-like capabilities that are much more powerful than those available to web 

If you are a developer, you can get more information from here.

Recap

The idea behind the Chrome OS operating system is to move your computing to the cloud. This makes it possible to have a computing experience where you do not worry about backups, updates or security. Apps on Chrome OS update themselves in the background. If you are using a web app, it gives you the latest version always.

However, Chromebooks come with basic features to get you through those situations where you end up without an internet connection with the help of apps with offline capability.

Apps are the software/programs on a Chromebook. There are two types of them, web apps and packaged/native apps. They update automatically. Packaged apps work offline by default.