This article is part of Chrome Story’s Chrome OS User Guide
The file manager in Chrome OS is called “Files”. In this article, we will explore the Files app, its features and how to use it.
The Files app has two major sections. Offline files and Google Drive. 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.
I will first explain the structure of the Files app and its different sections. The user interface is the same for all these sections. I will explains how to use these sections in the second part of this article.
Recent / Audio / Images and Video
Above My Files and Google Drive sections, you will find:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 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, it will be available here.
Files App, the Interface
UI explained – coming soon
Manage Files and Folders
This section explains how to open files and folders, how to create, edit, and delete files and folders using the Files app.
Open Files and Folders
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 the default app for a file
Continuing with our example of opening a file, what if you want to make the new app your default for images?
- Select the file and click “OPEN” at the top of the Files app
- Chose “Change default“
- Pick the new default app
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.
Rename Files and Folders
To rename a file or folder, right click and choose Rename. If you prefer keyboard shortcuts, use:
CTRL + ENTER
Create New Folders
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
“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.
The file name (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 show or thumbnails. Here is how the thumbnails view looks like:
When you are 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 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 on the bottom of the window.
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, keeping 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 to crop is the resize icon. Click this to open additional options to resize the image.
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.
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 which has only 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:
You can open folders and files from this external storage device and perform the usual actions like copying, moving or deleting etc.
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:
- Connect the device to your Chromebook
- Open the Files app.
- Right-click the external storage media name.
- Choose Format device.
You also get the option to rename SD cards and USB Drives from the same menu.