Did you buy a new Chromebook? Congratulations. This little guide will help you make the most out of your new Chromebook, from the moment you open the lid.
Here is what you will learn:
- Understand Chromebook’s keyboard layout
- Learn useful keyboard shortcuts and touchpad tricks
- Customize wallpaper
- Add users and learn about the Guest mode
- Manage files
- Keep Chromebook updated.
The first difference that you will notice on a Chromebook is the keyboard layout. Instead of function keys, you have dedicated keys for managing your Chrome browser.
Here is the first thing for you to do. Press CTRL + ALT + ? and you will see all the available keyboard shortcuts. The homepage of this app shows the most popular keyboard shortcuts.
The Search Key and Caps Lock Key
The caps lock is one of the first things that Chromebook users look for when they are new to this new operating system. Chromebooks come with a Search key instead of a caps-lock.
You can turn caps lock on using the following keyboard shortcut:
ALT + SEARCH
If you use capslock often, you can remap the Search key to use it as capslock. To do this, open the Settings app and go to Device > Keyboard.
No Delete Key
There is no Delete key on most Chromebooks. Here is the keyboard shortcut you will use:
- ALT + Backspace: Delete the next letter (forward delete)
- CTRL + Backspace: Delete the previous word
No Home or End Keys
If you use Home or End keys often, here are the keyboard shortcuts that you should use in Chrome OS.
- ALT + Up Arrow key: Home
- ALT + Down Arrow key: End
Using the Touchpad
- Click or tap with two fingers for right-click
- If that’s not easy for you, ALT + Click = Right-click!
- Swipe with two fingers for scrolling
The Launcher and the Apps Menu
You can open the apps menu by clicking the app’s icon on the taskbar or pressing the Search key. This is the Chrome OS Launcher. If you are an Android user, this will look very familiar.
The launcher has the following features:
- Google Assistant (on supported Chromebooks)
- A search box
- 4 recently used apps
- A link to go to the full apps list (All Apps icon)
From the Apps menu, you can:
- Launch apps you have installed from Chrome Web Store: Click the app icon from the menu, and the app will launch on a new tab. Right-click the app icon for more options like pinning the app to the taskbar, or the shelf as they call it.
- You can right-click any app to remove it from your Chromebook.
- Search the web: You don’t need to open a new tab, open Google.com and then type in the search query. You are on a Chromebook now! Press the search key once to open the Chrome OS apps menu, type in your query and hit Enter. A new tab will open with your search results.
- Do some basic maths or conversions: Since Google search is integrated into the Chrome OS apps menu, you can do basic maths from the search area of the menu. Try something new. For example, type in 4*4= and see what happens!
- Search and install apps and extensions from the Chrome Web Store: Search results also show related apps and extensions from the Chrome Web Store. Click the Add to Chrome icon to install the app or extension.
Right-click the desktop and choose Set Wallpaper. You can pick wallpapers available there or use your own image. There are plenty of apps that will change your wallpaper automatically and add some eye candy to your Chromebook.
Add More Users
Sharing your Chromebook with friends and family is easy. You can allow them to use the Chromebook in Guest mode or let them log in using their Google account.
To use guest mode, click Browse as Guest. This will create a temporary session.
If the user wants to create a new profile on your Chromebook, click Add Person and let them sign in using their Google account.
Note: You can stop new users from logging in from the login screen. You can manually add new users from the Settings app. To do this:
- Go to settings, and search for users.
- Click Manage other users
- Check Restrict sign-in to the following users
- In the Add users box, type in the Gmail address of the person you want to add.
- Click Ok.
Note: If “Restrict sign-in to the following users” is enabled, new users will not be able to sign in and use your Chromebook.
Screen Lock and Password Protection
To lock the Chrome OS screen, click the profile icon on the taskbar (or any of those icons there on the bottom right corner) and click the lock symbol. You can also use the following keyboard shortcut:
SEARCH + L
Bonus tip: For better security, do the following:
Go to settings and search for sleep and check to Require password to wake from sleep next to your profile.
Chromebook has a file manager app and it is called Files. You can read our complete guide to the Files app here. Here a few quick tips to get you started.
To view the file manager, click Files from the Chrome OS Apps menu. If you like keyboard shortcuts, use this:
ALT + SHIFT + M
The Files app has two main sections. My Files and Google Drive.
- My files: This is your local drive. This is further divided into Downloads and Play files.
- Google Drive: You will see your Google Drive files here. The Offline section under Google Drive shows files downloaded from your Google Drive for offline access.
Drag and Drop Between Google Drive and My files
You can drag and drop files from the My files drive or Google Drive to copy files between them.
- When you drag a file from My files drives to Google Drive, the file will be uploaded to your Google Drive.
- When you drag a file from Google Drive to My files drive, it will be downloaded and copied to your local drive, making it available for offline use.
To delete a file, right-click and choose Delete as you would normally do on a PC or a Mac. You can use the following keyboard shortcut as well:
ALT + BACKSPACE
Do not waste time looking for Trash. There isn’t one. If you accidentally deleted a file, click Undo on the top of the file manager window to retrieve the file.
Installing and Managing Apps
You can install Chrome apps from the Chrome Web Store. If your Chromebook supports Android apps, you can install Android apps from the Play Store app as well.
To manage your apps, open the Settings app and click Apps > Manage your apps.
Updating Your Chromebook
Software updates are an important and time-consuming affair in any operating system that you might have used so far. Here is some good news for you; Chrome OS updates automatically in the background. The changes are applied next time you restart your Chromebook. You will see an icon when updates are downloaded and installed.
Note: Automatic updates require Wifi. Chrome OS will not download updates using mobile data or tethering.
How do you check if you are on the latest version? Open the Settings app and click About Chrome OS. Click Check for and apply updates. This should tell you if your Chromebook is up to date.
You can find out the latest version of Chrome OS here.