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Kain Young

operating system

Coming to Grips with Google’s Chrome OS

By | Chromebook

Chromebooks are the lightweight, cloud-based alternatives to mainstream laptops. If you’re considering purchasing one, it’s important to know more about the operating system behind the machine, Chrome OS, before you commit.

In this article, we’ll run through the unique features of Chrome OS, its benefits, and potential drawbacks.

What Makes Chrome OS Unique?

Unlike most mainstream operating systems, Chrome OS is entirely web-based. Instead of relying on conventional PC software that is hard-installed, Chrome OS benefits from the flexibility of web-based applications, similar to the experience of using a smartphone. It’s pre-installed on every Chromebook and ready to roll, straight out of the box.

When you open a Chromebook, you’ll have the option to use your own account, which is linked to your new or existing Google account, add friends and family, or allow guests a one-time login. Once you reach the desktop, there are pinned application icons at the bottom left, settings and connection options on the bottom right, and a toggle button that allows you to view all of your downloaded apps. To add more, simply browse the Chrome Web Store or Google Play Store, just the same as you would on an Android device.

The principal user interface in Chrome OS is the Google Chrome web browser, and documents are managed through Google Docs. If you’re already using these platforms, you’ll find a switch straightforward. If not, you’ll pick them up easily, thanks to intuitive controls.

Early Chromebooks had a reputation for being effectively useless without an Internet connection due to the web-based Chrome OS format. Over time, the operating system has been finessed to accommodate offline use and automatically sync once a connection is re-established. This is especially helpful for people who travel for work; sketchy or non-existent Wi-Fi on planes, trains, and automobiles won’t stop you from writing that crucial report. Although, we wouldn’t blame you for using your offline time for a little relaxation!

Chrome OS is basically a fusion of the traditional operating system and a streamlined, smart device experience.

The Best Features:

Super fast!

Due to its lightweight cloud-based structure that relies on central computers to do the bulk of the work, Chrome OS is significantly faster than Windows and MacOS. In fact, a Chromebook will load up in as little as eight seconds! You’ll also notice that web browsing is snappy, with fewer instances of lag than on PC laptops and MacBooks. In addition, the lightweight nature of Chrome OS also promotes the long battery life for which Chromebooks are renowned.

Clean, intuitive, and easy to use

Chrome OS has been designed for a straightforward user experience, straight out of the box. Initial setup is minimal; simply log in using existing Google account credentials. The interface is clean, with no unnecessary embellishment. Controls are placed intuitively and can be customized to each user’s preferences.

Chrome OS also takes care of crucial tasks, such as antivirus protection, system upgrades, and app updates, without any manual intervention from the user.

Seamless interaction with Android devices

If you’re an existing Android user, you’ll find the interaction between your device and a Chromebook straightforward. Simply use the same Google account for all of your devices and they’ll automatically sync. For example, you can start watching a YouTube video on your Chromebook, pause it, then pick up exactly where you were, using the YouTube app on your Android phone.

Great for working on the move

Thanks to the minimal infrastructure required to run Chrome OS, Chromebooks are usually light and portable, making them perfect for people who work whilst on the move. They are ideal for travel, and some models are enabled with 3G, so they’re not reliant on external connectivity to run smoothly.

Chrome OS includes Google’s Office-equivalent productivity apps—Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Calendar—as well as Google Drive for cloud-based document storage. Customizable access also allows several users to collaborate on a document or project. Other productivity apps can also be found in the Chrome Web Store and Google Play Store.

 

Ultimately, one of the key features of the Chrome OS is its ease of use, which is why Chromebooks are growing in popularity.

man on couch connecting to VPN on laptop

Using a VPN on a Chromebook

By | Chromebook, How-To

Chromebooks and VPNs: Adding an Extra Layer of Security 

Imagine working remotely and needing access to the private servers of your company. You would never access company data with someone looking over your shoulder, so why enable someone to do the same when you are connecting to a public network?

A VPN (virtual private network) is a network created to ensure a safe and encrypted internet connection. It is often used in settings where your regular connection is just not safe enough, like when you connect to a public Wi-Fi. Public networks are highly insecure, and there’s a myriad of ways you can lose your private information when you connect to one (Wi-Fi spoofing, as one example).

Having a VPN helps immensely and it’s the best way to secure data when you are connecting remotely anywhere. VPNs are growing in popularity, and, since Chromebooks are designed to be lightweight and mobile, the two go nicely hand in hand. It’s important to know how to set up a VPN on your Chromebook for that ultimate security, especially in the digital era.

Benefits of a VPN

First, the benefits to using a VPN on Chromebooks are quite apparent, even apart from hiding your online activity.

Increased Privacy

When you browse, you leave bits of data everywhere on the web. With a VPN, this data can’t be linked to you; it will just be linked to the VPN provider. This means websites and programs can’t gather personal data on you because you aren’t specifically “viewable” to them. This enhanced security is because VPN offers heavy encryption, which makes it impossible to gain access to your data when connecting to hot spots and Wi-Fi networks.

No Content Restrictions

You have probably stumbled upon the odd YouTube clip that is not available in your country. With a VPN, you can easily bypass such restrictions. VPN servers are located all over the world, and you can easily find one in the right country with access to information not available to you otherwise.

No Bandwidth Throttling

Some ISPs tend to throttle your speed when you are connecting to certain websites. For instance, your ISP might have issues dealing with Netflix because they have their own service they want you to have, or because streaming 4K movies and TV shows takes a lot of bandwidth that they wish to keep clear. By making watching Netflix impossible, they could force you to switch. Although there’s much to be said about such practices, and many disagree with them, there’s very little you can do about it. But by setting up a VPN, you can get around this issue and enjoy a smoother streaming and browsing experience.

How to Set Up a VPN on Your Chromebook

Even though many VPN providers offer “download and install” types of service, when using a Chromebook, in most cases you’ll have to do the grunt work yourself. Some VPN providers are creating apps for the Chromebook in the Chrome Web Store, so if you can find the right app, you’re all set. If you can’t, you will have to set up a VPN manually. Luckily, it’s not that complicated:

1. Import the Certificate

You will get the CA Certificate (a key) from your VPN company and you will be sent a file. After you do:

Open a tab > go to chrome://settings/certificates > click the Authorities tab > press import > select the certificate file.

A box will open, asking you what you trust this certificate to verify. Select the option that applies or leave it unchecked if you are not sure.

2. Enter VPN Network Settings

Here, you will need to enter the account and server information.

Go to your account photo > click the gear icon > go to Network > click Add Connection > click Add > Open VPN/L2TP

Next, you’ll need to fill in the required information including:

  • Server hostname: Server Name or IP Address
  • Service name: Name your connection anything you like
  • Provider type: OpenVPN most commonly
  • Choose the CA Certificate you installed from the list
  • User Certificate: Leave blank or choose one if installed. It installs the same way as a CA Certificate.
  • Username: Your VPN username.
  • Password: Your VPN password
  • OTP: Leave blank unless you have a token that generates one-time passwords.

3. Test the Connection

It’s active once you see a key symbol next to the Wi-Fi symbol.

It may sound overly technical, but using a VPN on a Chromebook offers a wealth of benefits and added security. Plus, the set up is a simple step-by-step process you can follow using this guide.

tablet

A Look at the First Chromebook Tablet: The Acer Chromebook Tab 10

By | Chromebook, News

An Educator’s Dream Come True

As one of the most well-known Chromebook brands, Acer announced the first ever Chromebook tablet back in March 2018 in the hopes of adding a “novelty” to their line. The Chromebook (that is not really a Chromebook) is a tablet running the Chrome OS and has been out since May.

This specific model is aimed towards the educational sector, which isn’t as surprising when you look at the success Chromebooks enjoy in the classrooms around the world. Still, iOS has remained a strong competitor in this sector, primarily because of the portability making them the top choice. But, not anymore because the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is here as a real contender and even though there were several earlier installments of convertible Chromebooks and 2-in-1 models, this is the first ever tablet becoming a direct competitor to iOS devices now.

Classroom Oriented

Because the Chromebook Tab 10 is specifically aimed at educators and students, it is no wonder that Acer focused on tweaking software to be aimed specifically at classrooms. For instance, the form factor is improved when compared to other Chromebooks. It even comes equipped with a Wacom stylus, making the drawing and writing experience much easier. In most cases, a stylus has to be purchased separately, but Acer decided it’s an instrumental part that should be included out-of-box.

Specifications

The 9.7-inch display is powered by QXGA tech and features 2048×1536 resolution at 264 PPI. When compared to earlier Chromebooks, the resolution is higher in order to accommodate higher quality viewing and interaction, so students can focus on learning. The display is touch capable and supports the use of all ten fingers in addition to using the abovementioned Wacom EMR stylus.

When it comes to other specifications, the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 stands right next to premium Chromebooks. With 32GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, it can easily handle all the operations that students and teachers require and seamlessly run multiple apps at the same time.

The processor that’s used in this particular model is the OP1, which has six cores and stands shoulder to shoulder with the RK3399 Rockchip, sans branding. This processor has become known as the Chromebook processor, mostly because they are fine-tuned to enhance the Chrome OS experience, which contributes to their high performance.

Design and Connectivity

The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 was designed to be lightweight and slim, which makes it easy to carry around and a very good choice for the classroom. It weighs only 550 grams/1.21 pounds and measures 172 x 238 x 9.9 mm (6.78 inches in width, 9.38 inches in depth, and 0.39 inches in height). The bezels around the screen are a bit prominent, but nothing that would be considered a deal breaker.

The back of the tablet is textured, providing much-needed grip and stability, perfect for students and you will find the integrated Wacom stylus in one of the corners, indicated by a small nub. In order to get the stylus, you simply have to pull it out; there are no additional spring mechanisms, which makes it quite robust. Thanks to such attention to detail, the tablet will probably last for quite a while, and will probably be used by more than one generation of student, perfect for meeting the IT budget.

Another thing to mention when it comes to connectivity is the USB port, which is the 3.1 Type C (Gen 1), and is used for transfers, charging, and plugging in an external display. The tablet easily connects to HD displays thanks to the Type C port. Since this is a first-generation port, it supports data transfers up to 5 Gbps, which is a bit lower than second generation type C connectors with their 10 Gbps transfer speed.

A microSD slot is available too, and it’s best to get a memory card immediately, so you don’t have to search for one when you use up most of its internal memory. A 3.5mm jack for headphones is also present.

Connectivity is standard, with the WiFi (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 4.1. battery life is very good, and with standard usage, it lasts about 9 hours with a single charge (with WiFi turned on) so can see you through the school day.

Apps and Usage

The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 comes with Google Play integration, which means access to an almost unlimited pool of various apps—from games, to accessibility, all the way to productivity and education. Not only is the tablet compatible with Google Play apps, most of them can also be used offline, which means students can easily work on their assignments while being on the move.

 

Pricing

The price of the tablet is in the same range of an entry-level Apple iPad, although there’s one major difference. Even though you can find an iPad cheaper, it doesn’t come with a stylus, and if you need one, you will be charged an extra $99. This might not seem that much of a deal breaker, but that stylus will need a separate battery and regular charging. With Acer’s Chromebook Tab 10, the stylus, in addition to being integrated and branded by Wacom, doesn’t need charging, so that’s definitely a win for Acer.

If you’re looking for education-focused hardware, the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is currently the one to beat and sales have been looking good. This shows going in the direction of the Chrome OS is a great move.

laptop books

Reading E-Books on a Chromebook

By | Chromebook, How-To

Do Chromebooks Make Good E-Readers?

Chromebooks have become a very popular option thanks to their affordable price and long battery life. Today, they can do much more than just help you edit text and access email. Now you can edit images, play games, watch movies, and even use them to read e-books.

But the question is, do Chromebooks make good e-readers? The answer is yes.

How to Read E-Books on a Chromebook

In order to have a quality e-book reading experience on your Chromebook, you will have to set up a few things first. The best possible experience depends on the Chromebook model. If you read a lot of e-books, it’s not a bad idea to use a Chromebook that can be held like a tablet. The Chromebook Flip is a great example. You will be glad to know that Kindle offers the Kindle Cloud Reader app, which can easily be downloaded to your Chromebook to get access to all the Amazon books you have on your account. But if you don’t have any Amazon books, you can still use Chromebook to read e-books.

There are a number of apps and extensions that make this possible, like the Google Play Books app and Readium. To access library books, the OverDrive app will be your best bet. Audiobooks are also available through OverDrive, as well as through Audible.

As with many other apps today, there are subscription services for books, too. Scribd is one of them, offering more than 500,000 titles, and Kindle Unlimited is another option, with 750,000 titles. If you’re more into comics, Marvel and Comixology have you covered.

At this point, OverDrive seems like the optimal option for many, as it’s compatible with all e-book formats (except PDF) and all audiobook formats.

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Why You Should Use Your Chromebook as an E-Book Reader

If you’re wondering whether you should get a dedicated e-book reader or a Chromebook, here are a few benefits to using a Chromebook:

  • With Chromebook, it’s much easier to write notes and create content than when using a dedicated e-book reader. Quickly write notes and save them to Google Drive for later access. This is perfect for those who are reading academically or in a learning capacity.
  • Many new monitors have a special “Reading mode” that reduces blue light (which is known to hinder sleep) and minimizes eye strain. This can be achieved on Chromebook with apps like Twilight or Screen Shader, which are available in the Chrome Web Store.
  • Chromebooks tend to be the better option for viewing PDFs.
  • A dedicated e-book reader supports all formats but might be locked to certain services (only Kindle books, for instance). With Chromebook, you can read all e-books thanks to supporting multiple apps, e-book libraries, and services.
  • Most e-book readers have limited functionality, enabling web browsing, for instance, but not much else. Chromebooks cover a wide array of functions, from browsing and checking email to editing text and photos, playing games, and more.

Ultimately, a Chromebook makes an excellent e-book reader, and it provides the added benefit of multiple functionalities, making it the more cost-effective option.

closeup view of chrome logo on laptop

The First Steps to Owning a Chromebook

By | Chromebook, How-To, Making the Switch

You Purchased a Chromebook – Now What?

Getting your Chromebook can be exciting, but overwhelming, because you may not know where to turn first! There are several things you should do when you first get your Chromebook, such as setting it up properly, learning how to customize it, and getting all the must-have apps and products to ensure you have a seamless experience.

Personalization

Change Your Theme 

You simply have to visit the Chrome Web Store and browse through themes. If you find one you like, just select Add to Chrome and the theme will be installed. If you access your account on another Chromebook, the theme will appear there as well, because it’s linked to your account and is synced across all devices you use.

Shelf 

There are several options for organizing your apps. First, the Shelf is the taskbar at the very bottom of your interface. You can pin your favorite apps to the taskbar for easy access by right-clicking on the app you want and choosing Pin to Shelf. And apps aren’t the only thing you can put there. If there’s a site you visit frequently, you can bookmark the Shelf by choosing the More option in your browser, then More Tools and Add to Shelf.

Organize Your Apps 

Start off organized and on the right foot. You can create App Folders the same way you create them on an Android phone: by dropping one app on top of another. Holding the folder for a longer time allows you to change its name. This will reduce clutter and group apps according to usage, making you more productive.

Set Up (Multiple) User Profiles

Chromebook is designed in such a way that you can set up fully separate profiles, with each profile having their own personal settings, apps, and controls. If you have children, it’s not a bad idea to set up restricted profiles via the Supervised Users option that acts as a parental control. Using to this option, you can limit which sites they have access to. What’s more, safe search can’t be disabled.

Use Guest Mode

By utilizing Guest Mode, you can safely give your Chromebook to someone else without allowing them access to any of your documents or data. Plus, your browsing history and bookmarks will also be safe. All data that was accessed in Guest Mode is wiped clean once done.

Set Up a VPN

A VPN keeps you safe online, which is particularly important on a Chromebook because of its various online functions. Connecting to public networks always comes with a risk, and thanks to a VPN that adds another layer of protection, your data will be hidden from any prying eyes. Some VPN providers have their own apps that you can download from the Chrome Web Store, so make sure to check that before choosing your provider.

Essential Apps

You will need some additional apps to make your Chromebook into a powerhouse. The volume of available apps is growing every day, but here’s a list to get you started:

Google Drive and G-Suite – With Docs, Slides, and Sheets, you have all the essentials of an office suite that works across all Chrome OS devices.

Gmail – A no-brainer, really. There’s no productivity if you don’t have email. You can choose between the web version or the Android app.

Microsoft Office – Microsoft Office is available in the form of Android apps for Chromebooks, so just download them from the Play Store and log in with your Microsoft account.

Keep – Keep your digital notes organized with Keep.

Slack or Skype – To keep in touch with colleagues, you can use Skype or Slack, as both have native Android apps readily available for use.

Google Calendar – Keep track of all your meetings and tasks with the web or app version.

Pixlr – Web-based image editor, free to use.

AdBlock – If ads are testing your patience, AdBlock will help you keep your sanity.

The Great Suspender – Each open tab eats away your resources. The Great Suspender makes sure to suspend the tab you aren’t using at the time. It’s still there, but it’s not hogging your resources until you need it. Simply reload the tab to use again.

Learn Your Shortcuts

Shortcuts were made in heaven. They make things much easier and faster, and in today’s fast-paced world, it’s no wonder why so many people use them. There’s a very extensive list of Chromebook shortcuts you can use, all readily available on Google’s support pages.

Once you have taken these steps, your Chromebook is all set up and ready to go!

 

woman recording content for a vlog

Chromebooks for Vloggers

By | Chromebook, How-To

Vlogging on a Chromebook

As a lightweight, easy-to-carry and affordable option, Chromebooks are gaining traction with bloggers and vloggers. Many are unsure whether the Chromebook has what it takes to actually produce videos for vlogs and be a sustainable alternative for bloggers, so let’s take a closer look at vlogging on a Chromebook, the features you can use, and whether it’s actually possible.

What is Needed to Vlog on a Chromebook

The biggest criticism with Chromebooks for creatives is normally that you can’t use Photoshop or Premier. However, there are a number of other apps available to give you the bare essentials. Chromebooks are more flexible now, which means there are a wider variety of apps than ever before.

To get started vlogging on a Chromebook, you need to be able to do three things: photo editing, video recording, and video editing. Here are some of the options you have available.

Video Recording Apps

If you don’t have a camera and wish to record your video with a Chromebook, you should know that there is not a pre-installed app or extension for that purpose, so you’ll have to find one on the Chrome Web Store first.

Once you install the app, you will have to grant permissions; otherwise, the app won’t be able to access your webcam.

  • Clipchamp – An extension that can record, convert, compress, edit, and upload videos. It can be used on Chromebook and is a very popular choice for recording videos because it’s all-encompassing. It runs in the browser, but the videos are actually processed locally. The process is rather CPU-intensive, so it’s best to close other processes before you start recording.
  • io – Another web-based recorder that keeps things simple. You simply give permissions and can start recording as soon as you push the red circle on your screen. Once you have recorded everything, click Stop > Save and Download the video.

Of course, many vloggers prefer to record video using a DSLR camera or their own device, which is a perfectly viable alternative. If you go that route, you’ll simply need the right editing software.

Photo Editing Apps

In order to really stand out, you’ll need to be able to edit photos, whether it’s a still image in your video or cover images for your channel and social media. To make photos more appealing, you can use any of the various photo editing apps available for Chromebooks, including:

  • Pixlr – A web-based photo editor that comes as close to Photoshop as possible. You can edit images to your liking, and it’s free to use. The downside: as a free software, it has a number of ads, which could be a deal breaker for some.
  • Polarr – Another web-based photo editor with basic options available for free; the full range of options is behind a one-time $20 paywall, however. Still, the options are really powerful, so if you use photo editors a lot, this would be a good choice.
  • Adobe Suite – There are multiple Adobe apps available: Photoshop and Lightroom are available too, but they are not as strong when compared to Windows versions. Other apps include Sketch and Photoshop Mix for Chromebook users.

Video Editing Apps

Add fun effects, transitions, and the professional editing touch to your videos, particularly for vloggers aiming to monetize and build a foundation for income. These editing apps for vloggers are available on the Chromebook:

  • PowerDirector – A video editor made for Android that also works well on Chromebook. You can easily import and edit videos, even in 1080p and 4K resolutions. Its best selling point is the effects that can be added: slow motion, transition, and more. Plus, the interface is simple and intuitive. One word of warning, however: it does take quite a lot of time to export videos once you’re done editing, since there’s no hardware acceleration available.
  • KineMaster – Offers all the options that PowerDirector does, but it’s popular because of its themes. The tool’s Project Assistant basically builds your videos for you: you choose the artwork, fonts, music, and visual style, and then you let the wizard do its magic. It’s available for a monthly fee only, but there’s a trial version as well, so you can try everything out before you commit.
  • WeVideo – A feature-packed editor available to Chromebooks with access to Google Play, like the Acer Chromebook 14. Thanks to the intuitive interface, it can be used right away and offers video upload options to Instagram, Facebook, or Google Drive. Its subscription-based, and if you use the free version, you will have a watermark on your videos. It features an extensive media library full of free music and sound effects, which makes working in this editor a real treat.

For the naysayers, vlogging is more than possible with a Chromebook. And thanks to the vast number of apps and extensions available for Chromebooks today, it’s actually easier than ever.

 

laptop business

How To Use Your Chromebook For Business

By | Chromebook, How-To

Can Your Chromebook Keep up?

Chromebooks are a cloud-based option that many users have grown to love because they are lightweight, easy to use on the go, and affordable. Today, many apps that you download on your Chromebook can run while you are offline too. But are they a valid choice for a business?

Surprisingly, Chromebooks have quite a lot to offer to the corporate world, particularly for those who need to lug them around all day!

Startups and Entrepreneurs

The trend today, especially for many startups, is to limit the amount of overhead costs they have and to find cost-effective solutions for their business. If your desktop computer or workstation is not being used to its full potential because you work with online apps, you might want to consider switching to a lightweight solution. If your work is mostly cloud-based, prefer cloud-based storage solutions and automatic backups, rely on various web apps for productivity and want minimal setup issues, the Chromebook will be a great choice for your business or small team.

G-Suite for Businesses

With G-Suite, Google’s solution for both small and large businesses, you get access to everything you need to streamline your processes, collaborate with colleagues, and easily work on your projects. G-Suite is a very powerful bundle of cloud computing, collaboration and productivity tools, software, and products.

With it, you can connect with your colleagues easily through Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Plus, Hangouts Chat, and Meet. Get quick access to all the apps needed to successfully work on your projects: from Docs and Sheets, all the way to Sites and Keep. All your files and data can be stored on the Google Drive, and you can easily find all of them thanks to Google Cloud Search.

Larger businesses will be happy to know that Google has introduced Jamboard, a digital whiteboard. Jamboard offers a completely new, innovative new way to work on projects and visualize ideas interactively.

Chromebook as a Business Solution

Even though Chromebooks have a reputation as being a lightweight option for simple tasks only, much has changed in recent years, and Google is offering Chromebook solutions for both smaller and larger businesses.

If you are debating whether you can use a Chromebook for business, the short answer is: Yes, you can. There are certain things to take in consideration, of course. For instance, their processing power isn’t as strong when compared to regular desktops—they aren’t meant for monumental tasks that require vast amounts of processing power. They also can’t be used with legacy software, so a regular computer would be better suited in that case.

But, there are many benefits to using Chromebooks for business: they are easy to set up and use, scale perfectly, and management is minimal. Thanks to their automatic backup and synchronization, you can always be sure that all your data is safely stored in case something happens to your device or you have particularly clumsy staff.

Thanks to the built-in antivirus, regular security updates bundled with a verified boot and strong encryption, they are one of the safest options available out there for your business.

laptop case

Personalize Your Chromebook

By | Chromebook, How-To

5 Ways to Make Your Chromebook Uniquely Yours

One thing that various operating systems have got us used to is customizing appearance settings down to the smallest detail. Chrome OS also has rather decent customization options. Here’s how you can use these themes and other options to personalize your Chromebook.

1. The Chrome Launcher and Personalization Options

The Chrome operating system has the same basics as any Android device: it requires a (system) launcher in order to operate. This launcher is where everything else happens. The launcher includes the home screen, the app drawer, and pretty much everything else. Many Android-based phones can easily run launchers different from the stock launcher, which makes the customization options endless.

When it comes to the Chromebook, however, the possibilities are a bit more limited. Even though this is bound to change at some point, right now, you can only run the stock launcher. What you can do, however, is change other elements within the launcher to personalize your Chromebook.

2. Change the Wallpaper

One of the oldest personalization options available, the wallpaper is the easiest way to quickly personalize your Chromebook. Chromebook comes with a variety of readily available wallpaper options. You can access them by right-clicking or two-finger tapping the trackpad and choosing the “Set Wallpaper” option. A new window will pop up where you can browse through the wallpapers.

You can also use your own images as wallpapers if they are stored locally or on Google Drive. Click the “Custom” option to get access to those images. One very nifty option that Chrome OS has is “Surprise me.” If you tick the box next to this option, your wallpaper will change every time you log in to your Chromebook.

3. Change the Whole Theme

Another great personalization option for your Chromebook is changing the theme. In order to do this, you have to click the status area that’s located near your account picture, then go to Settings > Appearance, and finally, choose Browser Themes.

This will open the Chrome Web Store and let you browse through various themes. Once you have found a theme to your liking, you can easily set it up by selecting the “Add to Chrome” button. This theme is bound to your account, and it will sync with all the computers you use. If you want to use it only on your Chromebook, you will have to use selective sync to make sure it stays only there.

4. Put Folders in the App Drawer

If you have ever moved an app around an Android phone, you might have accidentally dropped it on top of another app, only to find them both in the same place, in a folder. Folder creation is done the same way in Chrome OS – just drop an app on top of another to get started. The default name will be “Unnamed folder”, so make sure to change the name.

Unfortunately, a folder can’t be created on the shelf or added to it, but having folders still helps you keep your Chromebook nice, tidy and keeps your personal favorites grouped together.

5. Personalize Your Shelf

The taskbar at the very bottom of your interface is called a shelf, and it can be customized too. You can change the position easily by right-clicking or two-finger tapping the trackpad, then go to “Shelf Position” and pick the position that suits you best.

If you feel like the shelf is a distraction, you can choose the auto-hide option for it. It will appear once you move the cursor to the edge of the screen. This option only works if you have other apps open. If there are no other apps, the shelf will stay visible.

Choose the apps you like most and add shortcuts to the shelf. This is rather easy to do: go to your favorite app, right-click on it, and click the “Pin to shelf” option which will create a shortcut. Plus you can add bookmarks there too, by accessing “More” in the browser, then “More Tools” and finally “Add to Shelf.”

One of the most common listed disadvantages of a Chromebook is their lack of customization options but as you can see, there is plenty to get you started. With their library full of various themes that you can apply to your Chromebook to switch things up a bit, Chrome OS can be customized to provide an experience to your liking.

 

cybersecurity

Protect Your Chromebook

By | Chromebook, How-To

5 Ways to Increase Your Chromebook’s Security

Chromebooks are considered as one of the most secure options available at this time, as all the local data is encrypted by the system—from cookies and browser cache, all the way to personal and business files and data.

Chrome OS also has a verified boot, and every single application and page runs in a sandbox. When coupled with automatic system updates, it’s clear that their security is on the very top of the priority list!

Even if they are the most secure option out there, there are still things you can do to boost security a bit more so here are 5 more ways for the security conscious to lock up your Chromebook extra tight!

1. Biometric Security Options: Fingerprint Sensors

A decade ago, fingerprint unlocking was still vastly in the realm of fiction, mostly being featured in movies and TV shows. There were a few devices that used it, but those weren’t for general use. Today, a vast amount of smartphones have fingerprint locks with Apple’s iPhone being the first and then other manufacturers following suit.

Chromebooks are now in the biometric game too with the newest models (that will be available soon) being equipped with a fingerprint sensor. There’s currently a nifty way to get the fingerprint unlock without the sensor—through the Smart Lock feature.

2. Smart Lock: Unlocking Chrome with an Android Phone

The Smart Lock option makes it possible to unlock your Chromebook with your phone. Using your Android phone, it can act as a key to unlock your Chromebook—as long as your phone is within 100 feet and unlocked, you won’t need to use your password. A simple click on your picture will grant you access.

In order to set this up, you will have to access the main settings in your Chromebook, and then go to:

“Show Advanced Settings” located at the very end of the main settings menu > Here, click the “Smart Lock for Chromebook” option to set it up.

You will be prompted to enter your password at this point. From here on, the setup will guide you through the process. You will be prompted to “Find Your Phone,” and once you do, hit  “Use This Phone.”

This option works well with any type of unlocking you have set up on your phone, as long as your phone runs Android 5.0 or higher. This includes fingerprint unlocking too.

Important: Smart Lock only works if both your phone and Chromebook have an active internet connection and Bluetooth enabled.

3. Your Google Account

Because your Google Account is the main way to get to your Chromebook, a secure password is very important. In addition to this, Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is crucial to keep your Google Account truly secure. You will need the Google Authenticator app installed on your phone, and it will generate a code or send a text message for each new login. That way, even if you’re hacked, they can’t get to your data.

If you ever get an authentication request you didn’t expect, change your account passwords immediately.

4. Restrict Sign-In

Chromebook, although you can personalize it, doesn’t hold any personalization offline. Everything is synced by default and cloud-based. This means that as soon as you log in to another Chromebook, it will feel and look just like your own device. This is great if you want to get a new Chromebook, not so great for stopping anyone with a Google account from signing in and changing a bunch of features. In order to protect your Chromebook from unauthorized logins, you can use the restrict sign-in feature, which limits access to the people who can sign in to include only you, or you can authorize selected family/friends.

You will find this option under Settings > Users > Manage Other Users.

5. VPN’s and Why They Are a Big Deal

Chromebooks are primarily cloud-based devices, which means they heavily rely on having an Internet connection. Whenever you connect your Chromebook to a public network, there is a risk that someone could interfere with your data. By using a VPN, you are adding an additional layer of protection that prevents others from seeing your activity. This includes anyone who might have malicious intent, but also marketers and others.

In the age of data security and online usage, it’s important to protect your information and your device, so make these changes to your Chromebook and you’ll be safe in the knowledge you are well protected.

 

keyboard

Increase Your Efficiency: Time Saving Hacks

By | Chromebook, How-To

10 Chromebook Shortcuts You Need to Know

Using shortcuts improves efficiency, saves time, and makes you more productive. Chromebook offers a number of shortcuts that make things more convenient and help you work faster. With over 100 options on what to do with various keys, you can do wonders once you get a hang of it.

Thanks to various shortcuts, you can start apps or switch between them, check notifications, access various menus, and do pretty much anything else that comes to mind. Shortcuts are set up as with any other OS, and you will use modifier keys (Alt, Shift, and Control) for quick access to improve utility to a wide range of Chromebook options and features.

The universal ones, like Control+C or Control+V, you probably already know. But there are numerous others that you should know of.

Here are the 10 Chromebook shortcuts everyone should know by heart for quicker control that will make you look like a pro!

1. Shift+Escape

If you have ever run into a problem with Windows, you should know the Ctrl+Alt+Delete combo by heart. The Shift+Escape is the Chromebook alternative. When you hit this shortcut, you will open the Task Manager. From the manager, you will have a complete overview of all the apps that are running, how many resources each of them is using, whether an app is experiencing any issues like being unresponsive, and so on.

From here, you can easily force-close an unresponsive app. If you can’t seem to make this shortcut work, remember that it will only work if Chrome is the active window.

2. Search+L

This keyboard shortcut locks your Chromebook. When you get up from your Chromebook, it’s wise to hit this shortcut to make sure nobody else can use it. When you return, you will be prompted to write your password to unlock the Chromebook again.

3. Ctrl+Alt+N

This shortcut will grant you quick access to all your notifications.

4. Ctrl+F5

Hitting Control + F5 will take a screenshot. If you wish to take a partial screenshot only, you use Ctrl+Shift+F5, and click and drag the area you want to take a screenshot of.

5. Ctrl+Shift+QQ

If you wish to log out of your Chromebook quickly, you need to hold down control and shift, and hit the Q button twice.

6. Alt+Search

The Caps Lock key is actually not Caps Lock but a search function. If you hit this key, you will prompt open the search function (as is indicated by the magnifying glass on it). In order to actually toggle Caps Lock, you will need to use the Alt modifier with Search.

7. Alt+1 (to 9)

This shortcut provides you quick access to your favorite apps (apps that you have pinned onto the shelf). Pressing Alt+1 will open the leftmost app, Alt+2 will open the second from the left, and so on.

8. Alt+E

To quickly open the browser menu, use the Alt modifier and the letter E.

9. Alt+Backspace

Using Alt with backspace will delete the character that’s on the right of your cursor. This shortcut acts as a Delete key on a Windows PC.

10.Ctrl+Alt+?

If you can’t remember a shortcut combo, using Ctrl+Alt+? will open the menu of all the possible shortcuts, so it’s best to NOT forget this one.

Shortcuts can definitely make our lives easier so when using your Chromebook, commit these to memory and you’ll be extra speedy next time you want to use all your features.