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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.

Snap windows on the left & right

Just like the Windows Snap feature that came out in Windows 7, you can dock two separate windows on the left and right sides of the screen for multitasking. It's great if you're editing spreadsheets, for instance, as you can update the spreadsheet on one side of the screen and view source data on the other side. You can also assign different browser tabs to each half of the screen.

To snap a window to the left or right side of your Chromebook's display, click and hold the title bar or tab, then simply drag it to the left or right edge of the screen. 

Search Gmail and Google Drive right from the omnibox

If you're searching Gmail or Google Drive often — hey, you are using a Chromebook after all — then this little trick will make you quicker. You can search these items right from the Chrome browser's Omnibox.

Doing so requires some setup, however. Click the browser's options menu, then head to Settings > Manage search engines. Scroll to the bottom of the Other search engines box (pictured below). Then add Gmail in the Add a new search engine box at the bottom, type Gmail as the keyword, and the following URL: https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#apps/%s

Follow the same procedure for Google Drive, using Drive (or whatever you'd like) as the keyword and following as the URL: http://drive.google.com/?hl=en&tab=bo#search/%s

Once you do this, you won't need to navigate to these specific apps to search for any of the items. All you'll need to do is type either Gmail or Drive into the browser Omnibox, press Tab, then type in a search term and press Enter. It sounds like a lot of steps, but it's insanely quick in practice.

Notice all the "Other search engines" already loaded into Chrome's "Manage search engines" setting. You can perform the same steps to search within those sites, or add any site you'd like to quick-search using similar steps to those above.

It's this sort of extendability that makes Chromebooks strong enough to serve as your main computer, especially if you've embraced the wider Google ecosystem. Once you've mastered these steps, be sure to check out PCWorld's Chromebook power user tips and our guide to powerful websites that will make you forget about desktop software for even more tools and tricks that will help you squeeze the most out of your Chromebook.

 

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