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How-To

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.

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!

Can I Use an External CD/DVD Drive with Chromebook?

By | Accessories, How-To | 522 Comments

Given its limited space, many people have been asking me about using an external DVD drive for Chromebook. Can you use an external drive for Chromebook? Do external drives let you play CDs and DVDs?

It’s fun and convenient to have so many features to add to your laptop. However, before you buy a Chromebook DVD drive, make sure you know what you can and can’t do with one.

Note: This article is about Chromebook optical drives, which play CDs and DVDs. If you want to know about external hard drives for file storage, check out this article I already wrote on the topic.

Optical Drives for the Chromebook

If you’re wondering whether you can use an external drive CD/DVD with Chromebook, the short answer is yes, you can. But before you get too excited, know that there are some limitations to what an external drive can do. Let’s start with the things you can do with a Chromebook optical drive.

Shop around for a high-quality CD/DVD drive and give it a try.

What you can do with a Chromebook DVD drive

Chromebooks can read these disk types:

  • CD
  • CD-RW
  • DVD
  • DVD-RW
  • Blu-ray
  • Blu-ray RW

Chrome OS can read files from any of these disks if they are written in data or media format.

You can copy files off optical media to your drive as long as they are actual media files, not CD music or DVD videos. You can also play media files directly from a disk.

What doesn’t work in Chrome OS

There are serious limitations to what an external DVD drive for Chromebook can do, since the system was created to function primarily online.

Write Files

Unfortunately, there is no way to write files to an optical disk for Chromebook. USB devices, including external DVD drives, function as read-only. You can read the information on a disk as long as it’s in an accepted format, but you cannot write information to it.

Play CDs and DVDs

You can’t play music CDs or DVD videos with a Chromebook DVD drive.

Why not?

Chrome OS does not support optical disks to let you play music or movies. The primary reason for this is that Chrome OS doesn’t come with codecs. Codecs are necessary to compress and decompress large files like DVD videos. If you want to play DVDs on your Chromebook, you’ll need to install Linux.

Run Programs

Chromebooks are all about staying simple and keeping storage in the Cloud. Chrome OS downloads all of its programs from the internet. They don’t have the capacity to run additional programs from an external drive.  You can’t run any Windows programs on Chrome OS either.

Rip Music or Movies

Chrome OS doesn’t include any ripping software. There are several DVD ripping tools for Windows Mac OS X and Linux, but none that function with Chrome OS.

If you want to rip music CDs or DVD movies, you have to use another machine that has Windows, Mac OSX or Linux. You can then transfer those media files to your Chromebook.

How to Read CD/DVD Media in Chrome OS

To read CD or DVD media, plug in the external optical drive to your Chromebook via USB. Insert a disk that has regular computer files. Then, access the files in the same way you would access your local files by clicking Launcher > Files.

If you’d prefer to watch a tutorial, here’s an easy, clear guide on reading files using a Chromebook DVD drive:

How to Play Music and Movies on Chrome OS

Even though you can’t play content directly from CDs or DVDs, there is a way to play music and movies on your Chromebook.

Google has confirmed that you can play music files, like mp3s, and converted video files, like mp4s. So to watch movies, you first need to convert your files into a supported type. You can find a full list of supported file types and codecs in this guide.

Once you have the right files, you can use VLC by VideoLAN, a free media player that lets you play media files on Chrome OS.

Take a look at this video for a full walk-through on using VLC to play a DVD:

Conclusion

In summary, a Chromebook optical drive:

  • Can read disks, but with only accepted file types
  • Can play music from accepted file types, like mp3
  • Can play movies from accepted file types, like mp4
  • Cannot burn files to a CD or DVD

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small compensation. This commission does not affect the price you pay.

Are you still looking for an external DVD drive for Chromebook/Chrome OS? Shopping for an optical drive is an easy task, so it won’t take long.

All you need to worry about is making sure the external drive connects with USB. Other than that, make sure the drive you choose is meant for PC and not just Macs. Shop around for a high-quality CD/DVD drive and give it a try.


Is Chromebook repair worth it?

Chromebook Repair – Is It Worthwhile?

By | How-To | 6 Comments

Broken technology – is there anything more frustrating? It’s a special sort of hell to have all the computing power of the modern era at your fingertips, yet be unable to use it due to a cracked screen or malfunctioning keyboard. For Chromebook users, it can be a tricky call: when the devices themselves are so inexpensive, how do you decide which problems are suitable for repair? Sometimes a cheap DIY Chromebook repair is in order. Other problems require a professional repair. And sometimes Chromebook problems get the toaster treatment–throw it out and buy a new one.

Chromebook Screen Repairs

Broken screens are by far the most common problem plaguing modern technology. The ultralight components used to make Chromebooks is one of the things that makes them so affordable. While they minimize cost and weight, often these parts are much less durable than their counterparts in a MacBook or laptop would be.

Fortunately, markets create solutions, particularly for products as ubiquitous as Chromebooks have become. A quick Amazon search for Chromebook replacement screens yields a plethora of low-cost kits (affiliate link).

However, note that each screen is device specific. It will be crucial that you search for your particular make and model before attempting to execute a Chromebook repair. Note that you will likely need both a replacement screen and a set of Chromebook repair tools. Again, an Amazon search gives a variety of device-specific options (affiliate link) for repair tools.

Although I haven’t yet had to repair a Chromebook screen, I can vouch for the utility of these pre-packaged kits. I’ve used several on various other pieces of technology around my house, like phones and tablets. As long as I’ve been careful to order only parts that come well-reviewed, I’ve never been let down. And there’s a lot of crossover for the tools. Keep them around, since it’s very likely you will be using your Chromebook repair set again in the future on another gadget.

Although the procedure for each Chromebook is slightly different, this YouTube video provides a quick breakdown for a fairly common Toshiba model. If you have a different model, it’s worth your time to search for “[make and model] Chromebook screen repair.” There are tutorials online under Google’s “video” tab for almost every model of Chromebook on the market.

As far as cost goes, screen repairs are a very economical solution. The screen may cost $14-$30 from a third-party supplier, and the tools may cost $20-$30. Even added together, that’s still far less than the price of a new Chromebook or a professional Chromebook repair job. And when you’re done with this job, you’ll have a new set of tools you can use on many other small devices.

Chromebook Keyboard Repairs

The second most common issue with Chromebook repairs is the keyboard. Just like we discussed with the screen issue, Chromebook keyboards are more cheaply produced than their counterparts in more expensive machines. I once had a machine that worked perfectly, except the ‘R’ key began flying off about six months into the relationship. (Apparently I type very aggressively.)

If your Chromebook has a single-key issue, the good people at Replacement Laptop Keys will sell you an affordably-priced replacement part. Check out their site and make sure you know which part you need to order. If the problem is more widespread, or affects the touchpad, you may be better served to search for “[make / model] Chromebook replacement keyboard.” Again, make sure you get the make and model right. Small variations in the molding can mean the wrong keyboard won’t fit your device. The same holds true for touchpad repairs as well.

Give It a Try

Like screen repairs, keyboard and touchpad repairs are economical for newer devices. The third-party market has done an admirable job keeping replacement parts affordable and available. Likewise, the collective knowledge of the internet means almost any repair (even those not discussed here) can be at least attempted with a little research.

Knowing all that, the rule of thumb I typically recommend for Chromebook repair is this: if the Chromebook is less than 18 months old, I would repair it myself if possible. Beyond 18 months, the rapid advance of technology probably means you’re just as well-served by simply replacing the device. With an average cost around $300, an 18-month lifespan works out to $16.67 monthly, which seems reasonable to me.

Before you trash a Chromebook or spend money on professional repair, take a stab at fixing it yourself. Not only will you save money, but you’ll begin developing the confidence to work on your own devices. Just this month I’ve repaired a washer and a dryer, using the power of Google and Amazon. You can try it, too.

Sometimes the repair is beyond what you want to attempt, because you could make it worse.Warranty repairs are sometimes possible, but that means shipping your computer to the manufacturer and waiting several weeks to get it back.

Affiliate disclosure: If you use the coupon below, you get $20 off the service, and I might receive a small commission from HelloTech as a thanks for connecting you. Good deal, right?

If you don’t want to wait, call in a local professional. HelloTech is a highly-rated service, and they can help you on the phone or in person. They have a deal just for you – click the image below to get help with a nice discount:

HelloTech offer

If you have a question or story about Chromebook repair, be sure to drop it in the comments below. And happy fixing!

How to record video on a chromebook

How to Record Video on a Chromebook

By | How-To | One Comment

Do you want to record and edit video on your Chromebook? If your work or hobby requires occasional use of video, you may need some help in learning how to create and edit videos on Chromebook, since these machines work a little differently than more traditional laptops, MacBooks, or iPads. The task itself isn’t complicated, and anyone can learn with just a little time and effort.

This tutorial is a two-in-one. First, I’ll show you how to use Animoto to edit video on Chromebook. Then, you’ll see how to make a screencast you can share.

What you will need to follow this tutorial

  • A video source: your Chromebook probably comes with a webcam that will be sufficient if you’re recording simple screencasts or tutorials; for more complicated tasks, you may need to use your smartphone.
  • Video editing software for Chromebook. We’ll be discussing one of these below: Animoto.

Note: in this tutorial, I’m only using free tools to record and edit video on Chrome OS.

How to Record Video on a Chromebook, Step by Step

Think about what kind of video you need to create:

  • If you’re creating a screencast, Screencastify is the quickest, most intuitive solution. It allows users to take a shot of their entire screen or just an individual browser tab. It also includes a video box that records you talking. This is ideal for teachers or anyone recording tutorials. We’ll be talking more about it below.
  • If you’re stitching together pictures or video into a project to be displayed (like for a class or business presentation), Animoto is an extremely intuitive, user-friendly option. The school I used to work at used it to create almost all their videos for parent night, graduation, and more. Not only that, they recommended it to students for class projects, so I know it’s simple enough that even first-graders can use it effectively.

PRO TIP: The Most Important Thing to Know About Shooting Video

If you’re filming with an actual camera, you can skip this paragraph. But most people these days take their video using a phone or tablet. If that’s you, remember: horizontal video is right and vertical video is a terrible, terrible mistake. Professionals shoot in landscape mode. To make your video look professional, you need to do that as well.

Animoto Procedure for Editing Video

  1. Log in to Animoto or create an account.
  2. Click the “Create” button in the top right corner.
  3. Select your style. Each style comes with pre-loaded music, effects, and transitions, but you can always change it later if you decide you don’t like it.
  4. Click “Add pics & vids” in the left sidebar. You can add video clips and still images in a variety of file formats.
  5. Upload the video or image file(s) to Animoto’s server. (Note here that Animoto will allow you to upload video directly from Facebook, Instagram, and Dropbox–so if you plan to use Animoto, keep that in mind when you’re saving your raw footage.)
  6. You can add text, logos, transitions, and more once your video clips are all uploaded.
  7. You can also add music with the “Change Song” button at the top of your workspace.
  8. When you’ve ordered your clips and have all the tweaks you want in place, you can preview your video with the blue “Preview Video” button in the lower left corner. This will give you access to a low-res preview.
  9. If the preview looks good, click on “Produce” in the top menu bar. From there, you can title your video, add a date and description, and select the video quality you’d like for the final product. Once you click the “Produce” button, Animoto will finalize your video and give you a link.
  10. If you plan to use your video offline, you’ll need to go into your account and download the final product directly to your machine. To do this, click on “My Videos” under your account, and select the video you want to download. At the bottom of the new screen that loads, underneath the video itself, you’ll see options to email, share via social media, push to YouTube, embed directly on your website, or download to your hard drive.

Here’s a super quick video showing how Animoto works. They also have lots of videos in their YouTube channel.

PRO TIP: if you’re using video at a professional presentation or in a classroom, always download it. There is little in life more embarrassing than building an hour-long presentation around a video that won’t load.

Screencastify Procedure for Recording Your Screen

  1. After adding Screencastify to your machine (go here and click the “Add to Chrome” button), you’ll see an icon in the upper right that looks like a strip of film.
  2. When you click that link for the first time, the app will walk you through the configuration of your microphone and camera.
  3. Once that’s done, the app will send you to a short video that explains the basics of the process. A short list version follows:
  4. Click the Screencastify icon in the upper right corner.
  5. Set up your basic parameters: audio, webcam, and preview window.
  6. Outline a basic script so you know what you’re going to say. This takes some time on the front end, but saves you from having to re-start and start over if you get lost trying to make it up on the fly.
  7. Start recording your screen / face / voice. The lower left will have a few tools you can use during your recording, including:
    • Focus mouse or pointer mouse. Focus mouse creates a highlight around the pointer on-screen, making it easy for viewers to track its movement. Pointer mouse creates a temporary “ring” around the mouse only when you click, enabling viewers to pay attention only to where you’re clicking (rather than the pointer’s movements on-screen).
    • Pen to draw on screen, with a variety of pointer options.
    • Option to turn the embedded webcam on / off in the film. For instance, if you want the audience to see you talking at a certain point of your video, you can turn the webcam on and a window containing your face will show up. When you turn this option off, that window goes away.
    • Pause the recording momentarily.
  8. When you click the Screencastify icon again to stop the recording, it will immediately take you to a video preview screen. You can click on the video title to rename your video.
  9. There’s also an orange bar containing buttons to go to your library of recordings, download your screencast directly to disk, share it online, crop or trim your video, or trash it and start over.

Here’s a 4-minute video so you can see Screencastify in action.

What do you think?

Did you enjoy the tutorial on how to record video on a Chromebook? I hope so. Those are just two simple ways you can use your Chromebook to record and edit video. There are much more complex apps out there, but Animoto and Screencastify should do the trick for most people’s basic needs. If you have a better option, make sure you mention it in the comments!

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5 Brillinar Chromebook Storage Solutions to Banish the Mess - Chromebook HQ

5 Brilliant Chromebook Storage Solutions to Banish the Mess

By | How-To, In the Classroom | No Comments

With the increasing popularity of Chromebooks in the classroom, Chromebook storage solutions and Chromebook charging carts have become important for schools and small businesses. Managing cables, devices, and power hubs can easily lead to an unsightly tangle of wires. No teacher wants to deal with that.

disorganized cables

Photo credit: Pedro Vera https://www.flickr.com/photos/pvera/

Chromebooks have revolutionized IT for classrooms and small businesses. With their functional ease, portability, and low cost, they’ve become a go-to solution for IT managers. One major driver of Google’s success in education is the Google approach to user interface, which Just Works The First Time. When you’re teaching toddlers (or veteran teachers) to use computers, that simplicity goes a long way toward driving enthusiastic adoption.

5 Chromebook Storage and Charging Solutions

Below you’ll find a collection of options for your chromebook charging solutions and chromebook storage needs. There’s a full range of options, from deluxe to totally DIY.

#1 Store Them in One Place

A permanent office / classroom charging cabinet is certainly an option. These models by Luxor [affiliate link] are permanent solutions designed to be hard-wired and mounted in one location. These popular cabinets by lockncharge have capacities ranging from six chromebooks up to forty.

Each cabinet not only stores your Chromebooks – it charges them as well! This is a perfect option for a small business or school library where individuals are checking Chromebooks out one at a time, and they’re not traveling very far.

Some schools require more portability. They would have to lock down a cabinet and then have to dismount it at the end of the school year. Read on for more mobile options.

#2 Put Them on the Road

A rolling chromebook charging solution is the typical solution for most schools. These are usuallchq-charge-cartsy built a bit sturdier, since they have to endure travel. Essentially, these are metal charging cabinets mounted on large casters, designed to roll the hallways of a school or business delivering chromebooks to various locations.

You can easily find chromebook charging carts with capacities up to thirty chromebooks [affiliate link]. However, these can also be expensive. It’s not at all difficult to find a solid charging cart, if you’re ready to throw $1500 at the problem. Some schools have found difficulty here; it’s pretty easy to sell a school board on the necessity of technology, but talking them into spending four figures on rolling cabinets is a trickier proposition. That leads us to our next option.

#3 Hack it Yourself

Next, let’s look at some DIY chromebook cabinets options. These are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in the educational sector, as teachers–known for their creativity–are beginning to solve their storage and charging problems on their own.

The Tips and Tricks Teacher Blog has a simple tutorial for making your own chromebook charging cabinet from common supplies and a cheap IKEA cabinet.  The model displayed here holds up to sixteen chromebooks, and it costs significantly less than similar commercial models on Amazon. Two of these babies could hold Chromebooks for a large class.

#4 Build Your Own Cart

If you manage multiple classrooms, you could also make a DIY chromebook rolling cart. It does require some basic carpentry skills and at least a small budget for lumber and supplies. This Instructables link provides detailed instructions on how to make your own, step-by-step.

Or, if your school has an old projector cart and a few camera bags lying around, you could do what this brilliant librarian did to clear the clutter in his space. One public school used a similar approach with a slightly larger media cart and a few plastic totes and boxes.

#5 The “Genius Chromebook Storage” Award

Finally, my favorite: dish racks. That’s right: teachers with limited space and budgets have taken to using simple dish racks as a viable chromebooks storage solution. Economical in terms of both cost and space, this is easily the most ingenious method I’ve seen of managing chromebook storage and charging needs. It’s a solution so simple it actually made me giggle when I saw it.

Those are a few Chromebook storage solutions that should help you regardless of your budget or particular situation.

What’s Your Chromebook Storage Solution?

I’m always on the lookout for innovative uses of chromebooks and ingenious ways to get them into the classroom. If you have a link to a similar project, drop the link in the comments. And remember to share this article so everyone can share the goodness!