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8 Chromebook useful Tricks
Chromebooks are unlike traditional laptops. While they’re much simpler, they still have various useful features you may not be familiar with. These tricks will help you discover your Chromebook’s true potential.
From accessing remote computers and printing to wiping your personal data, recovering Chrome OS, and installing desktop Linux, these tricks will help you get the most out of your Chromebook.
Control User Log In
Chromebooks are known as laptops “for everyone.” By default, anyone with your laptop can pick it up, plug in their Google account, and log in. They won’t be able to view your data, but they will be able to use your Chromebook.
If you would like to restrict access to your Chrome laptop, you can go to Chrome’s settings screen and control who can log in. Only the Chromebook’s “owner” can perform this. The first account you log in to the Chromebook with becomes the owner account.
You’ll find these options on the Settings screen, under the Users heading. You can also use the options here to have Chrome prompt you for your password every time you open it — by default, Chrome will wake from sleep without prompting you for a password. It’s fast and convenient, but potentially unconfident.
Access Remote Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs
You can’t open Windows programs on your Chromebook, but you can access remote Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs. The Chrome Web Store offers VNC clients for connecting to traditional VNC servers, but Chrome actually has Google-built remote desktop features. You can use this to access PC from a Chromebook or to remotely run Windows application.
To do this, on your PC install the Chrome Remote Desktop app in Chrome, then activate the “Enable remote connections” option and connect to your PC from your Chromebook using the Chrome Remote Desktop app there.
This isn’t a Chrome OS-only feature. You can also use Google Chrome to remotely access Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs from any other PC, whether you have a Chromebook or not.
Print via Google Cloud Print
If you need to print something, you can’t plug printers directly into your Chromebook and print to them. However, you can set up Google Cloud Print and use it to remotely print to supported printers from your Chromebook.
There are two ways to install Google Cloud Print. If you have a Google Cloud Print-ready printer it’s so easy. If not you can install Chrome on a computer connected to a traditional printer and set up the Google Cloud Print connector, which will allow you to remotely print to that PC. Think of it like sharing a printer on a traditional Windows network, but even better — it also allows you to print to Google Cloud Print printers over the Internet.
Click the Print option in Chrome’s menu, click the Change button under Destination, and use the Google Cloud Print option to set this up. Chrome OS also includes the ability to print to a PDF, so you can always print to a PDF file and print that PDF file later on another computer, if you like.
Use Powerwash to Wipe Personal Data
Chrome OS includes a “Powerwash” function that similar to the Refresh or Reset options on Windows 8, performing a factory reset and removing your personal data, putting a Chromebook back into its original status. It’s ideal when you are going to give your Chromebook to someone else, as it will remove all of your personal data.
You’ll find this option on the Settings screen. Click the Show advanced settings link and scroll down the bottom, where you’ll see a Powerwash button.
Create Keyboard Shortcuts
View Local Files
Chromebook also includes a Files app along with local file viewers that allow you to watch videos, play music, read PDFs and Microsoft Office documents, view images, and more. You can download all sorts of media files and open them later from the Files app.
Recover Chrome OS from a USB Drive
Chromebooks include a recovery mode that allows you to reinstall Chrome OS.
You should to create a recovery drive. You can do this by downloading and running Google’s Chrome Recovery Tool for Windows, Mac, or Linux. You can also create a recovery drive on Chrome OS itself. Just input chrome://imageburner into the address bar on your Chromebook and you’ll access the interface. The recovery data can be copied to a USB stick or SD card.
To actually recover Chrome OS, you’ll need to press Escape + Refresh and hold down the Power button. This accesses the Recovery screen. Older Chromebooks have dedicated recovery buttons — you’ll find more information on Google’s website.
Use Developer Mode to Run Desktop Linux
Chromebooks allow you to disable their security features and enable Developer Mode. In Developer Mode, you can modify Chrome OS all you like and boot other operating systems, including Ubuntu and other traditional desktop Linux systems. You can even run a desktop Linux system side-by-side with Chrome OS, switching between the two with hotkeys.