How to use ‘My Files’ – Chromebook File Manager

The file manager in Chrome OS is called “Files”. In this article, we will explore the Files app, its features, and how to manage files on your Chromebook.

How to Open Files on Chromebook

You can double-click any file or folder to open it. You can also right-click and choose “open”.

If your Chromebook has a touchscreen, or if you are using a Chrome OS tablet, you can tap and open files and folders

Open Files using a Different App

When you double-click a file, it opens in the default app selected for it. For example, an image by default opens in the Gallery app. What if you want to open an image using an editing app that you have installed?

To open any file using an app other than the default app, right-click and choose “Open with” and select the app from the list.

Change default app

Change the default app on Chromebook

Continuing with our example of opening a file, what if you want to make the new app your default for images?

  1. Select the file and click “OPEN” at the top of the Files app
  2. Chose “Change default
  3. Pick the new default app
Open files

This changes the default app for the file type. For example, if you change the default app for images, this will make all images on your Chromebook open using the new default app.

How to Rename Files and Folders

To rename a file or folder, right-click, and choose Rename. If you prefer keyboard shortcuts, use:

CTRL + ENTER

Rename a file on Chromebook

How to Create New Folders on Chromebook

To create a new folder, right-click anywhere inside the current folder and choose New Folder. There is a keyboard shortcut for this too. Use:

CTRL + E

Delete Files and Folders

To delete a file or folder, right-click and choose Delete. Alternatively, you can use the following keyboard shortcut:

ALT + BACKSPACE

Delete a file on Chromebook

Explore the Files App (My Files)

The Files app has two major sections. Offline files and My files. Everything under “My Files” is offline, or stored locally on your Chromebook’s storage. Everything under “Google Drive” is stored in your Google Drive account.

Some of these Google Drive files and folders can have offline copies too. We will discuss that later in this article.

Recent / Audio / Images and Video

Recent files

Above My Files and Google Drive sections, you will find:

  • Recent
  • Audio
  • Images
  • Video

These are automatically created lists. For example, under “Recent‘ you will find all the files that you accessed recently, whether they are from My Files or Google Drive. Similarly, “Audio” will list all your audio files under My Files and Drive. The same is true for “Images” and “Video” too.

Note: You cannot delete files from this section. You should delete files from the actual storage location of these files. Read this article to learn more about this section.

‘My Files’ on Chromebook

My File section contains all your local files. Chrome OS started out as a cloud-first operating system.

Users were encouraged to keep most of their files and folders in Google Drive. The local storage was limited to the “Downloads” folder. Most of the Chromebooks had only 16 GB of local storage.

As Chrome OS matured, this changed and you have an adequate amount of local storage on most Chromebooks and you are no longer limited to the “Downloads” folder. You will soon be able to create folders under My Files.

Note: All the files and folders under the My Files section are stored locally on your Chromebook. Do not store anything important permanently here. You might lose these files due to various reasons. Here are some examples:

  • When you do a Powerwash (reset), these files will be deleted.
  • ChromeOS might delete files if storage gets full.
  • ChromeOS might delete entire profiles that aren’t used in a long time.

Downloads

Downloads folder is where you will find all your downloads and any other local files and folders you might have. You can change the default downloads folder in Settings.

If you take screenshots, this is where they will be stored by default.

Play Files

The My Files section will also have “Play Files” if your Chromebook has Google Play Store access. This is where you will find all the files and folders from Android apps.

The Play Files section is further divided into:

  • Movies
  • Pictures
  • Music

Google Drive

Google Drive comes built-in to the Files app. You will see Google Drive files from the Google account that you used to sign in, without doing any configuration.

Google Drive section of the Files app is divided into three:

  • My Drive: Contains files and folders from your Google Drive account. This is similar to the drive.google.com home page.
  • Shared with me: Lists files and folders shared with you via Google Drive
  • Offline: If you download any Drive files for offline access, they will be available here.

“Gallery” App

“Gallery” the default image viewer and editor app of Chrome OS can be called a part of the Files app. Hence, we will cover the features of this app here.

You will not find the Gallery app in the launcher. The only way to open this app is to open a supported file, for example, an image.

Screenshot on Chromebook

The filename (in the above example, Screenshot 2019…… .13 PM) is an editable field. You can change the file name there.

The pencil icon opens the image editor.

The printer icon, of course, is to print

The trash can icon deletes the file

The icon next to the trash can toggles the view between slide shows or thumbnails. Here is how the thumbnails view looks like:

Slideshow toggle

When you are in the slide view, you can use the left arrow or right arrow keys to browse through images. You can also use the arrow icons on both sides of the images too.

Built-in Image Editor

To access the built-in image editor in Chrome OS, open any image and click the pencil icon. An additional row of options will appear at the bottom of the window.

Image editor

Overwrite original is selected by default. This saves your edits to the current file. If you want your edited image to be saved as another file, keep the original image as it is, uncheck this.

The magic wand icon is used to auto-fix images. If you are editing a photo, this will adjust the brightness and color, etc of your image automatically.

The crop icon, of course, lets you crop the image.

Right next to the “crop” is the resize icon. Click this to open additional options to resize the image.

Crop images

Enter the new width and height to resize the image. If the padlock icon is enabled, the editor will keep the ratio of the image. For example, if you enter 1000 in width, it will automatically adjust the value in the Height field to keep the ratio.

The next icon is used to adjust brightness. This also opens additional options. You will get two sliders, one to adjust brightness and another to adjust contrast.

Edit images

Next, you have two icons to rotate the image to the left or right.

The last two icons on the image editor toolbar are “undo” and “redo“.

Changes are automatically saved. Simple click Exit when you are done.

Use SD Cards / Memory Cards / USB Drives

You can use memory cards or SD cards, and USB drives with your Chromebook. If you have a Chromebook that has only a USB Type C port, you can use a converter to connect USB storage devices.

When you connect an external storage media to your Chromebook, it shows up in the Files app as another drive. You will also see a notification:

Removable device detected

You can open folders and files from this external storage device and perform the usual actions like copying, moving, or deleting, etc.

Storage Devices on Chromebook

When you are done, click the eject icon against the storage device to safely remove it. If you prefer a keyboard shortcut, use CTRL + SHIFT + E.

Format External Storage Devices Using a Chromebook

To format or rename an external storage device using Chrome OS:

Eject or Format External Devices
  1. Connect the device to your Chromebook
  2. Open the Files app.
  3. Right-click the external storage media name.
  4. Choose “Format device”.

You also get the option to rename SD cards and USB Drives from the same menu.

Do you have any questions about Chromebook’s file manager? Let us know in the comments section.

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20 responses

  1. Dinsan, is there anyway in the Files App to show the path of a file whether that file is local (e.g. Downloads folder) or on Google Drive?

    Often, I will search in the Files App, but there is no path. I have no idea where the file is. For files in Google Drive, I have to manage there to see a path, but the Path attribute is never even listed.

    This operating system really needs to grow up.
    “Me” is not a user and users want to know paths.

    1. This is currently available on Canary channel. You will soon be able to right-click and go to the file location.

    2. I have been trying to Delete the Read Only Files I no longer need like Recent, Audio, Images & Videos from my Acer Chromebook 315 for quite some time because I am running out of space. I cannot seem to Delete them. I have tried all the tricks, I have tried Opening the File and Clicking Delete, I have tried ALT+Backspace & NEITHER works. How can I permanently Delete these Files from my Chromebook? Also, can I Replace the Default Chromebook File Manager with one I am familar with and would like to use? If so, how do I Replace the Default Chromebook File Manager with mine?

  2. Hi, when connecting my WD Elements external hard disc to my Acer Chrome Book R 11 mod. C 85 – 132 T – C1HZ to watch the photos, I manage to see all the photos collectively, but unable to open and see the photos individually. I get the message “Unable to create folder. The file or the directory is not usable”. On my Mac Book I have no problems opening the external hard disc. Can you help? Thank you in advance. Birger

    1. Hi Birger, have you been able to solve this issue? I have exactly the same when trying to access a NAS I have created with my Raspberry Pi.

  3. Can Google please please consider eliminating the FILES app for ChromeOS. e.g. Moving a file seems to link additional files, Copying files……….next same movement…..it moves files i.s.o. copying
    where is the logic.
    Its horrible

  4. Hi, i have an issue, every time i try to open a word o excel file, on the word or excel android apps, they are open like READ ONLY always, it doesn’t matter in what folder the file is stored, is there anyway to fix this?

    1. Do you have an Android version of any of the MS Office apps installed?

    2. Jose, I had the same issue too. It was driving me bonkers since I am a student and write many essays. This is how you fix it . In the search bar type in chrome://flags#arc-file-experiement then scroll down until you find that name on the list. Once you locate it, click to disable. That should do it!

      Hope this helps you!

      Michele

      1. Thank you, Michele!

  5. Hi Michele,

    Which setting would I be looking for to disable on the link you provided? I am having the exact same issue as Jose above is having. Please let me know which setting to in the link you mentioned in your reply above. Thank you.

  6. Anthony, you’re not disabling anything from your settings. You have to type into the search bar chrome://flags#arc-file-experiment

    then scroll until you find flags#arc-file experiment, then click to disable it. The list is kind of long, but just keep scrolling down and you will find it. Also when you are working on a document and you want to save it. You can pin it by right clicking when you are on the screen that says “save as” and then you can just reopen it from there and it won’t open up as “read only”.

    1. Hello. So I am struggling with the same problem, my files is locked in reader only mode, except for google drive and downloads. I cannot find the flags#arc-file-experiment to disable, just an arc-file-picker-experiment.

  7. I am trying to copy files from an inserted SD card to a folder on my Google drive. I am getting a message “Copy operation failed. There is not enough space.”. I’m addition, I receive a message of “Device storage is low”. I think I need a little lesson on how this works. Is my Google drive files taking up space on my device? Or are these temp files that is causing this? Should I instead be dragging from the SD card and dropping to my drive in a browser? Any advice/education would be helpful.

  8. Hello, I am having a similar issue with the “read only” function in the folders app. However, when I go to chrome://flags#arc-file-experiment, I cannot find the flags arc-file experiment to disable, just an arc-file-picker-experiment. Is this the right one? Or am I looking for something else?

  9. when i plug my drive in (in this case its a kobo ereader, if that makes any difference) the ereader says its connected to my chromebook but the pop up message never shows up and it dosent show up in files. is there any way to fix this?

  10. I’ve been trying to find the path to a folder I created under My Files from within a different app and there’s nowhere to look. It’s like its in a completely separate space disconnected from the otherwise accessible file structure.

    Any idea where these really are?

  11. Can I stop files from doubling up when copying files to and from the Chromebook

  12. Hello, i have a simple question. I’m looking to learn how to move files from my Chromebook drive to my external flash drive to free up space on the Chromebook. Thank you very much.

    1. Hello,

      You can connect your hard drive and copy files like any other computer. Connect the drive and then open the Files app.

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