The best Chromebooks can be some of the best holiday gifts, so it’s no wonder that this time of year a whole new cohort of Chromebook owners are taking to the internet to find out what their new device can do. exactly.
This is especially true for those coming from a Windows or macOS laptop, where the operating systems are a bit more robust and have a lot of features that a Chromebook doesn’t.
They also have a ton of additional resources, making them clunkier and more prone to freezes, slowdowns, and crashes that you typically won’t find when using a Chromebook.
Chromebooks are also a bit simpler and more straightforward, but you certainly don’t want to confuse that with insufficient power. Even with lower specs don’t expect a discrete graphics card, a Chromebook can do a lot, although it might not be immediately apparent.
Don’t worry, we’re here to show you some Chromebook essentials that will make you a true Chromebook convert.
Take advantage of the Chrome OS launcher
The Chrome OS Launcher is the Chrome OS version of the Windows Start menu or macOS Finder and Spotlight. Here you will find all your installed apps and a powerful search function which combines a file explorer with a web search function in one tool.
To access the Chrome OS launcher, just press the All key (the key above the Left Shift key) or click the circle at the bottom left. From there, you just need to start typing what you are looking for to find it on your device or on the web.
That’s not all the Chrome OS Launchers search bar can do. It can also do quick calculations – enter 3.14 * 2 * 1 in the search bar and hit enter and you will also be able to know the circumference of the unit circle! – and it can do quick conversions from units of feet to meters, ounces to grams, milliliters to cups, etc.
Want to quickly expand the app drawer space for your onscreen apps? Press Shift and the All key at the same time to automatically expand into the full app drawer without having to click anything.
Navigate and operate your desktop with ease
Outside of the Chrome OS launcher, the desktop is where the majority of things happen for a Chromebook, and it has an interface similar in many ways to macOS, with a series of icons at the bottom representing apps, settings or files that can be quickly accessed on a space called the shelf.
You can quickly access these anchored items by pressing the Alt key and their corresponding number, from left to right. So the leftmost icon is ‘Alt + 1’, the second is ‘Alt + 2’, and so on.
Once the application windows are open, you can also dock them to one side of the screen or the other using the Alt key and either ‘[‘ or ‘]’, for left mooring and right mooring, respectively.
You can also long-press or right-click an app to access the program’s context-sensitive shortcuts, such as starting a new document or message, or opening a website or the most recent file used by an app.
If you have a lot of apps open, you can preview what you’ve opened and what you’re currently running by tapping the button at the top of the keyboard that looks like a square with two vertical lines. next to it, which should be positioned on the number keys 4 and 5.
If you’d rather use your trackpad instead, swipe up on the trackpad with three fingers to open the overview page. Use three fingers to swipe down and you can go back to what you were doing before opening the overview.
If you want to quickly switch between apps, you can use the same Alt-Tab trick to switch between your two most recently used apps. Holding Alt + Tab will bring up a switching interface for all of your open apps.
You can minimize a window or application with the Alt + ‘-‘ shortcut and use the same shortcut to restore a minimized window. To maximize a window, you guessed it, Alt + = (the plus sign is the shifted character, so it’s technically the ‘=’ key). You can restore a maximized window or application to its original size and position by pressing the shortcut again.
Get the most out of tablet mode
Many Chromebooks also feature a 2-in-1 form factor, and there is a lot you can do with a Chromebook in tablet mode that you may not be familiar with.
Accessing the presentation interface in tablet mode can be done by swiping up from the bottom of the screen to access your favorite apps, sites and files in a drawer. Swipe up in this interface a second time and hold your finger down to open the overview screen.
Also, just like using ‘Alt +[ ‘and ‘Alt+]’can dock an app on one side or the other, in tablet mode you can do the same without the keyboard and just using gestures. First, open the presentation interface, select an app from the open apps and drag it from side to side. When this half of the screen lights up, lift your finger to âdropâ the application in this space. You can then drag another app window into the other half to access two windows or apps at once.
If you’re in tablet mode, using the onscreen keyboard can be a pain, but luckily there’s an option to shrink it down to a more familiar phone-like keyboard that can be moved around the screen as needed.
Talk it over !
Most of the latest Chromebooks have built-in Google Assistant and provide a number of Chromebook-specific tasks, such as “Open a Document.”
This makes browsing the Chromebook even faster, although obviously the bus during a morning commute might not be the best time to test this feature.
You can also use a Chromebook’s built-in voice-to-text dictation feature by going to your Chromebook’s settings (clicking the clock in the lower right corner or pressing Shift + Alt + N) and looking under the “Advanced” section. From there, go to “Accessibility”, then “Manage accessibility features” and activate the option “Activate dictation (speak to type)” to activate the functionality.
Now there will be a little microphone icon on the lower right side of your screen next to the notification panel. Whenever you want to start dictating something, tap the microphone and start dictating. Wherever the cursor is, the voice-to-text application will enter the appropriate text.
This article is part of TechRadar Technical resolutions series, an explosion of motivating incentives showing you how to power up your New Year with technology. From Sunday December 26 to Sunday January 2, our series will also reveal how we aim to improve the lives of our gadgets in 2022. So whether you’re looking to become an advanced Chromebook user, beat your take-out obsession with a new air fryer. or use a smartwatch to propel yourself to new heights of fitness, we’ll show you how to have a great New Year. And when things inevitably go wrong, you can always blame the gadgets.