The sun may be setting on summer, but back-to-school laptop sales are just heating up for students heading back to class in the coming weeks. Google's Chromebook is an especially popular line with students who are accustomed to the tech giant's browser and ChromeOS.
While navigating the operating system is simple, the pool of students underutilizing their Chromebooks gets larger with each semester. From shortcuts to multitasking, we'll help you make the most out of the speedy and lightweight operating system. Bust out your comfy sweatpants, grab yourself a pumpkin spice latte and prepare to free up your schedule this semester with these back-to-school tips for Chromebooks.
Master overview mode
Think of overview mode as your war room. You can see all open tasks with a click of the designated key, which is adorned with what looks to be a rectangle and lines. Quickly scroll through what tasks you have open and jump into action. See tasks running that are no longer in use? Close them out and free up space, and also save some battery life.
Split screen for multitasking
Snapping two windows side by side works as fluently on Chrome OS as it does on macOS or Windows. This means you can crack open a PDF of class materials on one side of the screen while writing your report on the other. Hit the minimize button to exit the full display mode and hold down your trackpad button. When an arrow appears, click it and the tab will automatically be resized to fit half the screen. Repeat the process on the new tab you want to see and it will snap to the opposite side.
Use offline mode
While Chromebooks rely on the internet for a majority of applications, enabling work offline mode will allow you to utilize Google suite apps to bang out spreadsheets, slideshows and notes on the go. When your Chromebook reconnects to the internet, your work is automatically synchronized with the cloud. Jump into your Google Drive settings at http://drive.google.com/drive/settings and enable offline mode. Click Done and you'll be able to work offline as well as sync emails.
Use the keyboard shortcut overlay
Pull up the keyboard shortcuts overlay with a quick input of "Ctrl + Alt + ?" There when you need it and gone when you don't, learn the key presses that will get you back to bingeing Netflix in bed faster. Other than that master shortcut, a quick press of "Alt + [" will dock your current page on the left side of your screen for easier split-screen access.
Pair your Chromebook with your phone
Dubbed Better Together, this feature pairs your Android device with your Chromebook. Read and respond to texts from your laptop, lock and unlock either device with the other and instantly tether your Chromebook to your personal phone hotspot to stay connected to the internet while you're on the go.
Make the most out of extensions
Find student discounts and coupons with Honey, autofill your passwords with LastPass and put an end to procrastination with Stay Focused to ensure you won't get sidetracked by Reddit (or any site) while working on your papers. Check out our picks for the best Google Chrome extensions.
Use Android apps
Modern Chromebooks offer Google Play support, opening the door to millions of Android apps. The best part? Most apps work offline, so you can install a game and take it with you on the go. Here are some recommended Android apps to kick off your list.
Turn any website into a native Chrome app
This feature helped me turn my school website, Blackboard and Slickdeals.com into apps and put them right in my tray. To do this, click the three-dot menu in the top-right corner of your browser and save the URL as a shortcut. To customize your shortcuts, crack open applicationize.me/now and begin to create fancy shortcuts for your tray.
Work on the go
Chrome Remote Desktop can stream your home PC to your Chromebook while you're on the go. Simply install the app on your desktop and Chromebook, sign in to both to set up the connection, and then you're all set to access your PC, as long as it is awake and connected to the web. As a real-world example, I was able to finish editing a movie for one of my media classes in the common area, then uploaded the finished film to my Google Drive — all while being 45 minutes away from my home computer.
Cast your screen
Any available casting device will show up as an option for your Chromebook in the More tab under “Cast”. Mirror your display to your Chromecast, practice Google Slide presentations and share images with the room on a big screen.
Credit: Laptop Mag
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Hunter Fenollol is Laptop’s editorial intern, where he covers the latest industry news and products. With a public relations degree from Long Island University, Hunter worked as a publicity specialist for independent game companies prior to joining the team. When he’s not working, you can find Hunter blowing his paycheck on slot machines, babysitting his two little sisters or playing the latest video games.