All Posts By

Kain Young

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.

laptop beach

5 Ways to Work Offline on a Chromebook

By Chromebook, How-To

Say Goodbye to the Days of Required Internet

When Chromebook made its debut, it was no more than a conduit to all things Internet, especially Gmail, Google Drive, and other Google Cloud services. There wasn’t a single thing you could do on them if you were unlucky enough to have a limited or no Internet connection at all. And, this reputation has stuck with Chromebooks.

Google, however, was quick to rectify this oversight. Today, there’s quite a lot you can do offline with a Chromebook. In order for an app to run offline, the app needs to run everything locally and Google solved this by introducing “Packaged Apps” that can execute locally.

For a quick reference on how to work offline on a Chromebook, here’s a list of various things that you can access offline.

 1. Check Emails and Schedule

Thanks to Gmail Offline, you can read, search, and respond to your emails. Of course, sending is not an option, as you need an Internet connection for that, but you can do everything else. If you send replies they will be held until you have internet connection again before they are sent.

How to Enable: Go to: Chrome Web Store and open the Gmail Offline page.

Then click on Add to Chrome > Add App.

A launcher will appear in the corner of the screen. Once you click it, click the Gmail Offline app, and then the option to Allow Offline Mail.

This will prompt the download of your messages so that you can view them and write replies. All operations you do offline will be synced once you go online.

2. Play Music and Movies

For Music and Movies, you will need the Google Play Music and Google Play Movies apps. In order to enjoy movies, music and TV shows offline, you will have to buy and download them in their respective apps, making sure they are synced to your device before going offline. However, Google Play Music also allows you to upload any music you might have in your personal collection and play this when you’re offline too.

3. Play Games

Not all games can be played offline, but there’s a decent collection that you can enjoy and generally something for everyone. In order to find them, go to the Chrome Web Store, click on Games and check the “Runs Offline” box. For instance, Cut the Rope is available for offline play. Then simply download the ones of interest and the next time you’re offline, you’ll have something to occupy your time.

4. Take Notes

Google Keep lets you take notes while you are offline too and while you can save and edit offline, you’ll need an internet connection to sync them and fully save them.

5. Edit Photos and Documents

Since Google Drive introduced offline support, viewing, creating, and editing documents or photos is available while you are offline as well. No need to worry about changes being saved- all of them will be synced as soon as you connect to the Internet again.

How to Enable: Go to the main Google Drive page and click the Cog icon > Settings. Under General Options, search for Offline options. There will be an option to enable syncing of documents to the computer, so check the box next to it. Once you have done so, syncing will begin. Make sure everything is synced before you go offline.

To edit photos, you can use Pixlr Touch Up and apply quick edits, crop images, blur them, add filters or effect, or some text.

To use your Chromebook and all of its features, obviously an internet connection is going to be essential, but in those times when you can’t find one, you’ll still have plenty of tools at your fingertips for work, entertainment and fun. As Chromebook continues to develop and improve, I’m sure we’ll see their offline features increase, closing the gap between them and regular notebooks.

computer gaming control

10 Free Games to Get for Your Chromebook

By Chromebook, Games

Games Optimized for You

Since Chromebooks are now able to run Android apps through the Google Play Store, you can choose from numerous games to play. What you should keep in mind though is that some games do not work well on the Chrome OS, while others aren’t compatible at all. Here are 10 games that are well-optimized for your Chromebook, available for free:

1. Asphalt Airborne 8

Those who love racing games will enjoy Asphalt Airborne 8 by Gameloft. The game features some of the highest-performance cars and bikes available in the market. The arcade racing game comes with over 190 cars and bikes to choose from and has everything from Lamborghini Veneno, Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari. Race your opponents on over 40 tracks and enjoy 16 different racing modes, the most interesting one being mirror mode, where the track is reversed to give you a new challenge in a familiar setting. You can customize your cars and bikes and upgrade them to take out your opponents in multiplayer leagues and seasons, and enjoy over 400 events and 9 racing seasons in Career mode.

2. Agar.io

Agar.io is an online game available on Chromebook that has become very popular quickly and was even featured in the TV show House of Cards. The game is simple yet addictive. You start as a blob, and in order to succeed, you have to travel around and eat other blobs (players), which makes you grow. By growing, you become more powerful and learn new abilities.

3. Plague Inc.

For those who like to run doomsday simulations, Plague Inc. is the way to go. The goal is to wipe out humanity from the face of the Earth by spreading a disease that you mutate, so it becomes more and more infectious. The basic version is free, and you can unlock additional features with an in-app purchase.

4. Tiny Tower

For casual gamers, Tiny Tower from NimbleBit LLC is a perfect choice. What you do in this game is manage people who live in a tiny tower (hence the name). You have to build attractions and shops, which will help you earn money to add more floors to the Tower to attract bitizens to live there. The challenge is to keep everything running smoothly. You can even visit your friend’s towers,  thanks to the Play Games integration, and get special perks through special missions. The game is free, but you can purchase items in-game.

5. Leap Day

Leap Day is an action platformer game that is very fast paced and will require quick reflexes. The controls are super easy, and you only have to tap or click to jump or double jump and climb the levels. What makes this game unique is that the courses change daily, so there’s always something to look forward to every day. The retro pixel art is reminiscent of the old games we used to enjoy and love. The game itself is free, but does offer in-app purchases and contains ads that can be removed with a one-time payment.

6. Polycraft

Polycraft is basically Minecraft from Chromebook, but has tower defense and RPG elements too. Your character is stranded on an island; you have to build a shelter to be safe from warring tribes, expand your base by building structures, walls, towers, and gather resources, then join forces with Wildlings in order to win.

7. Arcane Legends

This is a free to play action and adventure MMORPG from Spacetime Studios that you can play on your Chromebook. The game features a fantasy world that you can enjoy solo or with friends. Level up, get great gear, tame cute pets, and do your best to be the best in the kingdom of Arlor.

8. Two Dots

Progress through levels by connecting the dots of the same hue and getting the required number of dots connected. This simple premise makes the game super addictive, and as you progress through levels, they become more and more challenging. You can use your screen or your touchpad to connect the dots.

9. Save the Day

This is an old-school arcade game that is quite challenging. You are in a helicopter and your mission is to rescue survivors and avoid fires. The game has super cartoony graphics and snack-sized gameplay that can help you relax when you take a quick break.

10. Threes!

When it comes to puzzle games, Threes is definitely on the very top of the addictive ones. The premise is simple: You start with 1s and 2s and have to add matching tiles together (3 with 3, 6 with 6, 12 with 12) to finish a level. This game supports touch screen tap controls only.

It doesn’t have to cost you to play games on the Chromebook and these are some excellent ideas to get you started and probably playing for hours.

Android games for chromebook

5 Android Games to Play on Chromebook

By Chromebook, Games

Which Android Games Can You Play on Your Chromebook?

You might think that having a Chromebook limits the number of games you can play and while this is partly true, it limits less than you might think! There are a number of games that are compatible with your Chromebook, especially since Chromebooks can run apps from the Google Play Store. Here are some super fun Android games that you can play.

1. Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens started as a physical card game on Kickstarter and was the brainchild of The Oatmeal. Soon after the campaign, the game was fully funded and continued to be backed up by fans so much that it became one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time. Thanks to this success, a digital version for Android was made as well, and it works on Chromebooks too.

The goal is to make sure you don’t draw an exploding kitten card and aim to compel the others plays to draw it. The person who draws an exploding kitten and doesn’t have a defuse card is out. The last one standing is the winner.

You can play against friends or random players. The game controls are simple – just click and drag a card to play it and the newest update also has a single player mode, so you can play against bots when you don’t feel like playing against other players. The base game costs just $1.99; expansion sets are also available.

2. Sonic the Hedgehog Classic

If you would love to take a trip down memory lane, this is a game for you. The once immensely popular game, Sonic the Hedgehog, is back. Take Sonic and race through the classic zones, collect rings, and spin the best loops while you are on a mission to save the world from Dr. Eggman.

The game is fully optimized for mobile devices and runs well on Chromebooks too. There are some new modes available, like the “Gotta Go Fast“ mode where you challenge yourself in Time Attack based mode, and there are new playable characters available as well, such as Tails and Knuckles.

3. Fallout Shelter

Those who have played the Fallout game series by Black Isle Studios and Bethesda Softworks are very familiar with Fallout Shelter. This is what Sim City would look like in a post-apocalyptic setting. Your goal is to build a bunker to accommodate a group of survivors that keeps growing and manage the bunker and survivors by assigning them jobs and providing them with various training, weapons, and outfits, all while making sure that they all get along well.

4. Alto’s Adventure

This is one of the best games you can play on your Chromebook. Developed by Noodlecake Studios Inc., Alto’s Adventure is an action-packed snowboarding odyssey that follows Alto and his friends as they journey through the hills, woodlands, ruins, and wilderness.

The game has a fluid, physics-based gameplay that will keep you glued to your Chromebook for hours. It’s easy to play but rather difficult to master, and you will spend hours mastering combos to max out your speed and points while trying to achieve all 180 goals.

5. Dark Orbit

Fans of science-fiction will enjoy DarkOrbit, which was released a while ago, and it had a bit of a rough start. Over time, however, the developers added more features, so the game at its current state is action-packed and fun, and provides a smooth gaming experience.

The Dark Orbit player base is huge, and you battle other players and take resources for your ships and weapons. You can choose one of three companies that compete for control and enjoy complex quests and customize your spaceships.

As you can see, there are plenty of Android Games that you can play on the Chromebook for better compatibility so you won’t miss out.

child playing

Create with Chrome: 6 Ways to Encourage Student Creativity

By In the Classroom

Are your students creating with Chrome?

Guest Post: John Sowash

Consuming information is much easier than creating. That’s why watching TV is so much easier than writing a script for a TV show.

A recent report by GoGuardian suggests that most classroom Chromebook usage is focused on learning games, flashcards, and watching videos. While these activities aren’t inherently bad, they aren’t terribly inspiring or creative and don’t help students develop important 21st-century skills.  

The act of creating something is one of the most powerful ways to internalize learning. That’s why teachers are so smart – we are creating things all the time!

Here are six ways that you can encourage student creativity with Chromebooks.

Tell a Story or Teach a Lesson

Video is the dominant form of communication today. Few students are motivated by the idea of writing a paper or creating a poster board project, but would be excited to create a video.

Here are three ways you can create with video in your classroom outstanding video tools that you can with a Chromebook

1. Screencast Tutorial

A screencast is a video that displays activity on your computer screen. Screencasting is a great way for students to share a presentation or demonstrate a math skill.

Screencastify is my favorite tool for recording screencasts on a Chromebook. It’s free to use!

2. Stop Motion Animation 

Stop motion is one of the simplest forms of video. This is an example that my students created using nothing more than a white-board and a camera.

ClapMotion is a free Chrome App specifically designed for creating stop-motion videos. Just point your webcam and clap your hands to take a picture!

3. Video Stories

 Everyone loves a good story. Capturing a story on video makes it easy to share. Storytelling with video requires excellent writing skills, editorial decisions, collaboration, and a good dose of problem solving. These projects take longer to develop, but result in rich learning.

WeVideo is the most full-featured tool for creating professional looking video projects. They have a free version you can use today.

For younger students I recommend Adobe Spark; Spark videos are super easy to create and share. The example below was created by my kids.

Design Something to Share

I was in middle school when my family got our first home computer (Gateway 3000). I spent hours using various “desktop publishing” tools like MS Publisher and Printmaster Gold. Doing graphic design with Google Drive is pretty limited (if we are being honest). Here are some Chromebook compatible tools that will help fill the void.

Thomas Jefferson

4. Trading Cards

I grew up collecting baseball cards. Kids “these days” collect Pokemon cards. Everyone loves collecting and trading cards, why not make your own?

Ask students to create a “deck” of the five most important figures of the Civil War, or the most powerful Greek Gods, or the most important scientists of the 19th century. The decision making process of selecting the individuals and their contribution is the value of this assignment.

Canva is a great tool for projects like this. I recommend using the “announcement” template which is what I used to create this trading card of Thomas Jefferson.

5. Infographic 

The intersection of data and design is an interesting space. Asking students to collect data create a visually engaging display to showcase the data requires all kinds of important math, analytical, and creative skills. Infographics engage both the left and right side of your brain.

Piktochart is a tool for creating infographics. Like this one created by Sarah from Hovr.

6. 3D Designs

You CAN create and model in 3D on a Chromebook! Even if you don’t have a 3D printer, you can still challenge your students to create a 3D model to solve a real-world problem.

Reading Hatchet by Gary Paulsen? Have your students use a tool like Lego Builder to design a structure to survive the cold winter months.

Teaching Geometry? Have your students build a sculpture using Tinkercad. You can even send it to a 3D printer to bring your art to life!

Don’t just use the Chromebooks in your classroom to consume information, use them to create! Hopefully these six ideas have sparked your imagination and given you some inspiration for what you can do in your classroom. 

If you have Chromebooks in your classroom I think you will enjoy my free online course “Developing your Chromebook Classroom.” It’s full of practical ideas and suggestions for teaching with Chromebooks.

 

John Sowash

John Sowash is an experienced classroom teacher, former school administrator, author of The Chromebook Classroom. You can connect with John via his blog (electriceducator.com) or Twitter (@jrsowash).

 

USB printing Chromebook

How to Print From Chromebook via USB

By How-To

The Benefits and a Step-by-Step Guide

One of the Chromebook’s many innovations is its approach to printing. Instead of a direct connection to a printer, the default option for the Chromebook is to use Google Cloud Print. With Google Cloud Print, you can print from any device sharing the same network allowing you to print from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.

While this represents a significant advance in printing technology, with the goal of making print tasks more convenient, there are occasional problems. Most often, this is an issue with the Google Cloud Print servers, which can lead to substantial delays. This is simply an inconvenience for casual tasks, but if you are using a Chromebook for urgent business or regular personal printing, the issue is highly problematic.

In these circumstances, it’s crucial to have a backup process in place. Fortunately, there is now functionality to print to compatible printers using a good old-fashioned USB cable. It may not be the future, but it certainly is reliable!

We are going to take a look at the three key benefits of printing via USB, and a simple step-by-step guide to show you how to print from Chromebook via USB.

The Benefits of Printing via USB

Reliability

As discussed above, one of the issues experienced by Google Cloud Print users is the failure of network servers, making printing temporarily impossible. For time-critical tasks, that kind of ambiguity is unacceptable. USB printing is reliable, every time.

Ease-of-use

The beauty of printing via USB is that it’s completely straightforward. Simply plug in and you’re all set! Although Google Cloud Print is intuitive and user-friendly, there’s nothing easier than utilizing a USB cable.

Confidentiality

If you share a printing network with other people, whether in a personal or business setting, there is a risk of confidential documents that are printed, falling into the wrong hands. With USB printing, you are the only person connected to the printer at any one time, which gives you full control of what is printed, and immediate collection of documents.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Printing From Chromebook via USB

Step 1: Check Your Resources: Equipment, Cables, and Consumables

Before you begin setting up the printer, check that you have everything you need close to hand. As well as the printer and your Chromebook, ensure you have power cords and a USB cable with the correct connection for your printer. Most printers are still supplied with an appropriate USB cable, so always keep it stored safely! In addition, ensure that you have enough paper and spare cartridges just in case.

Step 2: Download the Extension

HP took the lead in offering Chromebook users an extension to allow USB printing. Other printer manufacturers have since followed, although not all printers are supported. Simply head over to the Chrome web store and search for your printer manufacturer. Download and install the relevant extension on your Chromebook. You may need to restart Chrome; if this is required, you’ll be given a message on-screen.

Step 3: Connect Your Printer

Once you’ve downloaded the relevant Chrome extension, it’s time to get printing! Plug the USB cable into your printer (usually at the back), then connect the other end to one of your computer’s USB ports. Switch the printer on and allow it to boot before trying to print anything (how would you like it if you were woken up first thing in the morning and required a ton of things to do!)

Step 4: Select Your Document

Go to your Google Drive, find the document you want to print, open it, and double-check it’s ready for printing.

Step 5: Open Google Cloud Print

Although we are bypassing the wireless network capabilities of Google Cloud Print, we still need it to help us perform any print tasks. From the File menu, select Print. A new window will appear titled “Select a destination”, allowing you to choose the settings you require for this printing task.

Step 6: Select Your Local Printer

The new window contains three sub-sections; Recent Destinations, Local Destinations, and Google Cloud Print.

Under Local Destinations > the printer you have connected via USB should be listed > select this printer.

Step 7: Press Print

The final step is to press the Print button at the bottom of the window. Your printer should begin working immediately and deliver the requested document. If not, there could be a connection or setting issue so try checking your cables again, ensuring the printer is powered on and you’ve selected the right printer in the window option.

As you can see, this is a straightforward process that negates the complexities that can sometimes arise with Google Cloud Print.  

laptop colors

How to Invert Colors on the Chromebook

By Chromebook, How-To

For people with a visual impairment, a high-contrast display can make help to make on-screen navigation easier and on a Chromebook, a high-contrast screen can be created by inverting the display’s color scheme. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of a high-contrast display, and present a straightforward step-by-step process to set it up.

The Benefits of Inverting Colors on The Chromebook

Helpful for people with visual impairment

A white or light background with dark objects and text can be difficult for visually-impaired people to see, as the contrast is relatively subtle. When colors on a screen are inverted, it creates a more substantial contrast between objects, text, and the background. This makes the screen much easier to navigate, providing visually-impaired people with a working environment more appropriate for their needs.

Reduces glare

A high-contrast screen can also be helpful for people without a visual impairment. There are some conditions, such as migraines, that can be exacerbated by glare from a predominantly white screen. By inverting the display’s colors, switching the dominant color palette from light to dark, the amount of glare is reduced, which can provide relief to people experiencing symptoms of these conditions.

Less strain on the eyes

Extensive use of a screen can cause strain on the eyes. Making an occasional switch to a high contrast palette can alleviate some of the burden on your eyes, particularly if you are spending a long time in front of a display. Over the long term, this may help to prevent associated medical conditions and reduce the amount of stress placed on your eyes.

How To Invert Colors on the Chromebook: Step by Step

Step 1: Finding Your Account Status Area

At the bottom right of your screen, you’ll find the status area, which contains some basic information such as the time and a network connection indicator. It will also have your Google account picture displayed. Click on that picture, and a new window will appear. This has the access to the settings you need.

Step 2: Navigate to Advanced Settings

In the new window, find and click on the gear pictogram which is the “Settings Tab”. In this menu, scroll to the bottom of the window and click the linked text entitled: “Show Advanced Settings”

Step 3: Enable High Contrast Mode

Within the advanced settings menu, scroll down to ‘Accessibility’ and click the checkbox marked ‘Use high contrast mode’. This should prompt the Chromebook to immediately invert the screen colors. If not, you may be required to complete the next step.

The Process Shortcut:

If you’ve forgotten again, here it is in short format:

Click Google Account Picture > Click Settings Gear > Advanced Settings > Accessibility > High Contrast Mode

Step 4: Exit The Settings Screen

If you are happy with the contrast and color settings, close the window by selecting the ‘X’ at the top of the screen. If your Chromebook has not yet inverted the screen colors, it will do so at this stage.

Bonus 1-Step Method!

Some Chromebook users have inadvertently set their display to an inverted color scheme, causing a frantic search for answers! You may be interested to discover that the high-contrast mode can be toggled with a simple shortcut:

Ctrl + Search + H

If your Chromebook does not have a search button, follow the comprehensive step-by-step guide above. This accessibility is one of many reasons to love the Chromebook!