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5 Chromebook tips and tricks to fine-tune your productivity

Derek Walter | Feb. 26, 2015
While Chrome OS started life as a simple, stripped-down browser and little else, Google's operating system now has tons of tools, tweaks, and customizations that let you tailor your Chromebook to your specific workflow needs.

While Chrome OS started life as a simple, stripped-down browser and little else, Google's operating system now has tons of tools, tweaks, and customizations that let you tailor your Chromebook to your specific workflow needs.

Just like Windows or OS X, Google's built additional functionality into Chrome OS's app launcher, the taskbar-like shelf, window sizing, and other functions to help you stay productive. These tips will show you how to make the most of those tools and start getting stuff done on your Chromebook.

Let's dig in!

Arrange your shelf

The shelf has many of the features you may know from the Windows taskbar. You can even relocate it to the left or right side of the screen, though not the top. Just right-click it and choose your desired location.

The Chrome OS shelf also gives you some flexibility in how you launch apps. You can right-click an app and select to open it by default as a window, pinned tab, or full screen. For example, I tell Google Play Music to launch in a separate window so it acts like a standalone music application, such as Spotify or iTunes on other operating systems. Doing the same with Gmail and the Google Drive productivity suite can help those feel like discrete desktop apps, especially if you activate their offline capabilities.

Customize the app launcher

Exerting order on the randomness of the Chrome OS app launcher can also streamline your workflow. Customize the app arrangement in the launcher by clicking and holding on an app and then moving it. 

You can also move around the icons and bundle them together in folders, just as you would on an Android device or iPhone. If there are several different apps that you use from the launcher instead of the shelf, this is a great way to find them faster. Don't forget, however, you can also hit the Search button (where the caps lock would be on a PC or Mac) and start typing the name of the app for another rapid way to launch your next task.

Focus on your task by going full-screen

With a couple of tweaks you can focus on one task, such as writing in a Google Doc or Office Online file. For writing, I like to auto-hide the shelf and set the tab in full-screen so I can just focus on what I'm working on. (Press the Immersive mode button, or F4, to entire full screen mode on a Chromebook.)

In Immersive mode, additional tabs are represented by horizontal bars along the top of the screen. Your shelf is represented by similar bars, so you can still switch between apps in Immersive mode if you don't feel like using one of the many Chrome keyboard shortcuts.

 

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