Chromebook Tips for the Uninitiated

Earlier this week, my son and I made our trek to Best Buy to get him an Acer C720 Chromebook, which should last until November, 2017. Although he's played around with a wide range of devices, the one that's not left his side except when he goes to school (sigh) is the Chromebook. It didn't take him long to set it up the way he liked it, and I found myself wondering, Do I even need to show him anything?
After spending a month using nothing but a Chromebook ZDNet Contributing Author Ken Hess writes "... enjoyment comes in the form of no reboots due to constantly arriving patches, annoying freezes, or other anomalies. It comes in the form of a responsive and out-of-the-way user interface. There are just no hassles with a Chromebook ...The Chromebook is easy to use. " 
Source: Chromebooks are a revolution in easy.

The answer, of course, is obvious one week later--No. Compare that to the issues we've both encountered adapting to iPad workflows. In fact, looking at a friend's Samsung Galaxy Tab, I'm considering dumping my iPad 3rd generation (64gigs) for an Android tablet instead. After all, Explain Everything and Book Creator are now Android friendly!

Yet, I still find myself scouting and jotting down (via Evernote and Pocket) Chromebook tips for the uninitiated, which really, only describes my wife who finds her way on the Internet using an aged Acer Aspire One netbook (no trade-in value) running GNU/Linux. It's surprising how well she's adapted to life on a Linux "box" and I keep wondering if maybe, just maybe, I could push her over to a Chromebook. Or, consider getting a Linux machine from System76 and ZaReason.

Either way, what are the essential Chromebook tips a newbie needs to know? Here are some I like to share with people and you may have your own list:
  1. Productivity Apps
    1. Desktop publishing with LucidPress
    2. Take advantage of image editing with Pixlr.
    3. Edit audio using TwistedWave.
    4. Use Evernote for note-taking
    5. Share your clipboard among multiple Chrome browsers on different devices (neat!) using Sync Clipboard. There are others, too!
    6. URL Shortener -
    7. Create a screencast (video) of your Chrome tabs using Screencastify or SnagIt
    8. To Do List - Wunderlist for Chrome
    9. Keyboarding app - Type Fu
    10. Whiteboard - DrawItLive
    11. Graphing Calculator - Desmos
    12. Save items to the Cloud - CloudSave
    13. Access Windows computers using VMWare Horizon View
  2. Reading and Viewing Media Online
    1. Use Read It Later's Pocket to save content to Pocket, as well as read saved content when Chromebook is offline.
    2. Read ePub books - Readium
    3. Play music on your Chromebook using Songist
  3. File Management
    1. Compress files to the zip format by putting them in the Download folder first. To uncompress, double-click on the zipped file, then copy the contents to their new home in Google Drive.
    2. Dragging a file from Downloads folder to Google Drive will upload the file to your Google Drive account and save there.
    3. Download torrent files using JSTorrent.
    4. Access your Windows computer using Chrome Remote Desktop
  4. Privacy Tools
    1. Secure Your Chromebook with 2 Easy Tweaks
    2. Browser Tools
      1. Collusion
      2. DoNotTrackMe
    3. Email
      1. Mailvelope
      2. Virtru
  5. Keyboard Shortcuts:
    1. Open apps pinned to the taskbar using ALT + Number combination
    2. Drag and drop a file from Google Drive to your Downloads folder to download a local copy
    3. For Home key, press  CTRL + ALT + Up Arrow
    4. For End key, press CTRL + ALT + Down Arrow
    5. lock your Chromebook screen, press Ctrl+Shift+L
    6. Take a partial screenshot by selecting the area you want to capture, CtrlShift+ windows key (overlapping boxes)
    7. Press Shift + Alt + M to open the file manager
    8. On the file manager, Ctrl + E creates a new folder
    9. Toggle hidden folders/files visibility by pressing  + “.”
    10. Pressing the + + 9 keyboard shortcut toggles the Projection Touch HUD
    11. Hold Shift key and click on any app to open it in a separate window,without the address bar.
  6. My favorite tips--because of the keyboard shortcuts (most of which appear above)--come from this excellent blog entry from Chrome Story's 100 Best Chromebook Tips, Tricks, and Time Savers:
    1. How to print from your Google Chromebook
    2. How to Diagnose Wifi and 3G Connection Issues on Your Google Chromebook 
    3. To insert Unicode characters, press   + + U + The number for the unicode character.
    4. To open a command prompt, press CTRL + ALT+ T. Once you are on the command prompt, type shell and hit enter to go to shell prompt.
    5. Once you are in the command prompt (CTRL + ALT + T ) you can do SSH using the following format.  ssh username computernameORipaddress. To view available SSH options, type ssh hit enter, and then hit enter one more time.
    6. To view free space available on your Google Chromebook’s local drive (HDD or SSD) visit chrome://quota-internals/
    7. Create a recovery media right from the Google Chromebook. You need a 4 GB or larger USB flash drive or SD card. This card needs to be wiped completely so make sure you don’t have any data on it. Open up chrome://imageburner and follow on screen instructions.
    8. To view total amount of RAM, open chrome://system, find meminfo and click expand. 

Source: 30 Ways to Use Chromebook (or GoogleApps) in the Classroom

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Tom said…
Thanks, Miguel. I'm working with a NGO in Cambodia looking at Chromebooks and I've done a lot of research and still learned more from your post. Thanks, heaps, Tom--
Anonymous said…
As always, wow! :)

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