Simple Tips For Chrome OS IT Admins

Published by Lamin Kanteh on

Chrome OS IT Admin

Chromebooks have become a thorn in the side of both Microsoft and Apple and it is obvious to see why. Overall, Chromebooks have become performance and productivity-enhancing devices largely thanks to the fact that the entire platform was built to be cloud-centric from the onset. 

With the industry rapidly embracing cloud- computing as the next big upward step, moving your organization to the Chrome OS platform guarantees a fluid relationship between your employees and how you want your company to operate. 

Compared to both Mac OS and Windows, Chrome OS stands head and shoulders above both when it comes to simplicity and practicality. But, like any new experience, having your entire organization move to the Chrome OS platform might be a difficult learning curve. 

Being the IT head, you might be tasked with overseeing that transition and your job could be made a lot simpler if you have a go-to to-do list to help you maneuver the uphill tasking of getting your organization up to speed with Chrome OS.

To get you started, here are some easy-to-follow tips and tricks specifically tailored to get your Chrome OS experience off the ground. 

How To Prevent Losing Files on Your Chromebook 

As stated in the first paragraph of this article, Chromebooks are built from the ground up to take advantage of the immense capabilities of cloud-computing thus making them Cloud-first computers. You can greatly argument the huge potential of a Chrome OS-powered device by taking advantage of its hugely integrated roots with the cloud. 

However, not taking the right steps could potentially lead to the deletion of locally stored files stored on the device. Take for example downloading a file over the internet on your Chromebook. The file automatically gets stored in a folder called the Downloads. This, however, is kind of a temporal place of storage on your Chromebook and because of this, it is the first place the system looks for files to delete when it runs out of space. 

The worst part of it all, files that get deleted from the Downloads folder are gone for good. Because of this, it is highly recommended that you always back up important files in your google drive where it gets sync to the cloud.

To backup previously downloaded files in your Downloads folder, follow these simple steps:

  • Find the files app by either clicking on the folder icon on the shelf — the same as the taskbar on Windows — or search for it using your Chromebook’s search feature. 
  • After opening files, Click on Downloads — this should take you to the folder containing everything you’ve downloaded. 
  • Drag a downloaded file to the appropriate permanent Drive folder this should initiate an auto backup of the file safely storing it in the cloud.

Changing Your Default Download Location 

Alternatively, you can change the default download location on your Chromebook to prevent accidental file deletion. 

Since by default, all downloads are saved in the Downloads folder but if you wish, you can point the downloads to your Google Drive Folder instead where they are uploaded to the cloud for safekeeping.

Here is how to do it

  • Click on the Time on the bottom right to push up the drawer that reveals the gear/settings icon on the top right.
  • Clicking on settings icon should the settings page, scroll all the way down until you reach the Download section of the settings page, then click on Change.
  • Find the folder with your main Google Drive folder that you want to be the new home for your downloads — you can create a folder within the Google Drive folder– then select open. 

Next time files are downloaded over the internet, they will be saved within the new folder you’ve picked within Google Drive. 

Setting up Your Chromebook With An External Monitor 

Chromebooks are usually built with portability in mind. This is actually one of their best selling points. However, there are times when you would prefer your work projected on a bigger screen and Chromebooks allow this via an HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI or even through a VGA port.

You can project your work on a TV or a bigger monitor using these simple steps.

  • First, you need to find the display output and input ports on your Chromebook — either on the left or the right side of the device– but if you aren’t sure, check through the device’s manual to figure out where the ports are.
  • Depending on what the display output and input ports are on your Chromebook, figuring out the adapter needed may vary from person to person. It could be either DisplayPort to HDMI
  • Now you will need to plug the adapter into the monitor and then into your Chromebook.
  • The next step is choosing the correct input source or the cable type you’re using to connect your laptop to your monitor.
  • Find the settings icon by clicking on the time on the bottom right of your screen. 
  • Open settings page and look for the Device section then click on Displays 
  • Select Mirror Internal Display and your Chromebook’s screen should be projected on the connected monitor/monitors — you can connect to multiple monitors using a USB multiport adapter or USB-C dock.

Note: You can also adjust several settings of the display from here like making items appear smaller or bigger, changing screen orientation and so forth.

Changing The Background Wallpaper on Your Chromebook 

The amazing thing about Chrome OS is how everything is made extremely simple for the user. The smartly integrated UI allows you to access the most important settings or make any desired change with only a few simple clicks. When using a Chrome OS-powered device, users feel a sense of control over what they want the device to do.

On your Chromebook, you can personalize your desktop through several desktop wallpaper options that include everything from landscape photos to colorful patterns and illustrations.

Furthermore, you can use your own photos to make your device feels more at home.

To change your desktop wallpaper using locally available images, follow these steps:

  • Move your mouse cursor anywhere on your Desktop and Click with two fingers, a set of options should appear, select Set Wallpaper
  • You can surf through the already available options that include beautiful Landscapes, Cityscapes, pictures of the Earth, etc
  • If you want to add your personal photo, Scroll down to My Photos and pick one
  • Alternatively, you can head over to the folder you have the image saved in, Right-Click on the image and click on Set as Wallpaper

Note: You can have this Wallpaper on multiple devices without changing it individually. Head over to the settings page and under People, click Sync and turn on Sync everything. This will effectively use the same settings (including wallpaper) on every Chromebook you sign in to.

How to Switch Between Personal And Work Accounts On Your Chromebook

Most of us have more than one email account with one dedicated for work and a private email address. Our private email is what we like to use to do private stuff like online shopping or checking bank accounts. You can have both your work and personal emails on one Chromebook and can easily switch between one account to the next seamlessly.

But first, you will need to add both emails to the device and here is how to do it:

  • Open Settings and then head over to the People section
  • Select Manage Other People
  • Click Add Person 
  • Enter your personal account password after choosing photo and entering your name
  • Click Save and a new window should open prompting you to have sync turned on

This brings in everything and all your personal preferences will sync, including settings, bookmarks, and tabs.

  • During instances where you want to switch between accounts — work or personal email–, just click the time in the bottom right corner again,  Go to the People section, and select the profile you want to switch to. Easy peasy!

Where To Get Apps For Your Chromebook

If your organization is switching to Chromebooks from Windows and Mac computers, one of the challenges they might face is getting programs for the devices.

As soon as you fired up a Chromebook, the first thing noticeable is how the platform sets itself apart from offerings like Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS.

From the welcome logo to the device UI and deeper into the belly of the operating system, everything cries uniqueness. Because of this, things like getting a program to install and run requires a different method.

A new Chromebook already comes pre-added shortcuts to web versions of its core apps like Docs and Gmail but you can get more of your favorite apps through the Chrome Web store.

Alternatively, newer Chromebooks come with support for Android apps meaning Mobile versions of all your apps can be installed and run on your Chromebook.

How Right-Click Works on a Chromebook

One of the few things I wish were the same between a Chromebook and a Windows laptop is the position of the right-click button on the trackpad. On a Windows computer, the right-click is always positioned to the right of the trackpad that by default, requires a single click to initiate and or hitting Shift+F10.

On a Chromebook, as expected, things are a little different. Opening the right-click menu requires you to either press the touchpad with two fingers, or you can hold “Alt” and use just one finger to click on the touchpad.

This, shots open the right-click menu and you scroll, moving left and right to move horizontally or up and down to move vertically.

Using Caps Lock On a Chromebook

Okay, this one is also one of those little things you wished Google would’ve added a single button for. Caps lock on a Chrome OS dedicated keyboard works differently than what is offered by Microsoft and Apple for their respective operating systems.

Turning on or off caps lock on a Chromebook requires two buttons that need to be simultaneously pressed to activate. Alt + Launcher are the keys you’re looking for and for those not sure what the Launcher key is, it is the one on the far left of the keyboard with the search icon.

Pressing both keys either turns on or turns off the caps but alternatively, you can use the Shift+the letter/letters you want to turn on/off caps lock for.

Taking ScreenShots on Your Chromebook

If screenshots play a pivotal role in your day-to-day work, then knowing how to take them on your new company-issued Chromebook should be as important.

To take a screenshot, follow these simple steps:

To take a screenshot of your entire screen on a Chromebook, you will need to press Ctrl + the Show windows button (Ctrl + F5). To capture a partial screenshot, press Shift + Ctrl + Show windows (Shift + Ctrl + F5), then click and drag your cursor over what part of the screen you want to be captured.

We’ve made a list but obviously haven’t covered everything so, if you think there is an important tip or two we’ve missed and didn’t mention, feel free to drop them in the comments.


Lamin Kanteh

I live, breath, and dream technology. I've only known myself to push the boundaries on what's possible in my mental scope in relation to technology. And having been a writer for the good part of the past three years (covering varying subjects on the major mobile platforms), No place has ever felt more like home than Chrome OS. And as you may know, Chrome OS is ushering us into a future of the unknown and I'm here to help in the process of easing the way into that future via ItsChromeOS.

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