How to use a Chromebook – 10 Tips for Chrome OS

If you’re looking at getting yourself a new laptop, then you might be considering a Chromebook. Or, if you work in education, then you might have been given a Chromebook from your education institution. Either way, Chromebooks are increasing in popularity and use around the globe.

The Chrome OS is definitely a lot lighter than what most people are used to using. But if you use a Google account a lot already, then it might prove to be the perfect set up for you. Although you do sacrifice some apps, you will get a pretty nifty laptop to use.

But saying this, not everyone knows how to use a Chromebook to its full potential. There’s no point using a Chromebook over a Windows laptop if you’re not going to use it properly.

How to Use a Chromebook – Best Tips

So, how do you use a Chromebook properly? Well, we’re going to look at some of the ways you can make the most out of your device.

Here is some of the best advice for those who already own a Chromebook and are looking to make the most of it, or are thinking about investing in one. If you’re thinking about getting one, check out this list of the top Chromebooks available right now.

Tip 1: Get used to Using Chrome OS

The biggest thing you’ll need to do when you switch to using a Chromebook is getting used to Google’s operating system. If you’ve been using a Mac or Windows device before, then this can take a while to get used to.

People act like the Chrome OS is dramatically different, but the reality is that it’s far more similar to the other popular operating systems than it is dissimilar.

Getting used to using the Search key is a major part of using a Chromebook, as it allows you to navigate your way through the device much easier. Taking some time to get used to the Chrome OS is key to making the most of your Chromebook.

Oh, and if you want to switch the search key back to being the caps lock key instead like on a Windows laptop, then you can do this by going to Settings > Device > Keyboard. Some people will prefer to have this as the caps lock key, especially if you’ve been using Windows for a long time.

Update: Google have now come out with the Everything Button, which is replacing the search key. It was never actually officially called the search key, but that’s what most people referred to it as (or the launcher button).

It still works in largely the same way, and is very similar to the Spotlight function on a Macbook. You can use it so search through all of your files, programs and well.. pretty much everything.

Tip 2: Make sure to use shortcuts

When you’re using a Chromebook for the first time, you want to make sure that you learn the shortcut keys that you can use with this device. You can simply hold down Ctrl and Alt and ? at the same time, which will bring you up a list of the shortcut keys that you can use.

There are many that will come in handy to use with your device, with the simple Ctrl + Shift + L being a super easy way for you to lock your phone.

Tip 3: Unlock with phone

One of the easiest ways that you can add some additional security on your device is by setting up your phone to allow you access to the Chromebook.

You can do this easily by changing the settings in your Chromebook and going to screen lock, and setting it up with your phone. When it’s connected, you’ll be able to use your Android to quickly unlock your laptop.

You’ll only be able to do this with an Android phone, but if you have a Samsung Galaxy or alternative, then it can make for a seamless experience.

Tip 4: Use the shelf more

Chromebooks essentially have something called the shelf, which is like RAM, but on your user interface. It allows you to easily access the apps and programs on your device.

This can allow programs to load up much faster than they would usually. So make sure that you take advantage of it, as it is one of the major benefits of actually using a Chromebook.

Tip 5: Zooming

One of the easiest things to learn on a Chromebook which will undoubtedly help you out is simply learning how to zoom. All you need to do is press Ctrl, Shift and + to zoom in, and Ctrl, Shift and to zoom out. You can also use Ctrl, Shift and 0, which will reset your zoom back to 100%.

This can definitely be useful if you read a lot of documents. It can be a good idea to get in the habit of doing this so that you don’t strain your eyes.

Tip 6: Taking Partial Screenshots

The good thing about Chromebooks is that they have their own screenshot key. But, this takes a screenshot of your entire screen, which is probably not what most people want.

If you want to screenshot a smaller portion of the screen, then hold down Alt with the screenshot key, and then use your mouse or trackpad to crop a section of the screen to shit. let go, and you’ll take a screenshot of the selected area.

Tip 7: Use Google Play Store (if possible)

With newer Chromebooks, you’ll have the ability to access the Google Play store and download an array of Chromebook apps.

You can find this in your settings, and you’ll need to enable the Google Play store on your device. Doing this will give you access to a much wider selection of apps.

Tip 8: Sync everything

Something that you’ll definitely want to do on your Chromebook is make sure that it’s synced up across the board – this means syncing your passwords, bookmarks and more across all of your devices.

Doing this can ensure that you’ve linked your Chromebook up properly with your phone and laptop if possible too.

Tip 9: Snapping

One of the key features that you can use on your Chromebook is the ability to snap a Window into a certain section of your monitor. When you’re on the Window you want to snap into place, press Alt and [, or Alt and ] to put the Window into either the left or the right side of the screen.

This can essentially allow you to have a split screen on your device. It can definitely come in handy if you’re trying to get some work done whilst simultaneously watching videos on YouTube (we all do that, right?!).

Tip 10: Switch over to Google’s ecosystem

A Chromebook on its own is a pretty good choice of laptop. But to really make the most of it, you’re probably going to want to completely switch over to the Google Ecosystem with all of your devices.

This means that using an Android phone with your Chromebook is going to be much easier than using an iPhone. Not only this, but it’s also worth thinking about your smart devices too – the Nest Audio and Chromecast are examples of devices that work well with a Chromebook.

Plus, you may want to think about switching over the software you run as well. Google Drive, Google Calendar and the entire G-suite in general work very well with a Chromebook, so using these is usually going to be a good idea.


In conclusion, these are just some of the best tips for helping you learn how to use your Chromebook properly. Following this advice isn’t a must, but it can definitely make things a little easier, especially if you’re switching over from another operating system.

Chromebooks are seemingly only going to get more popular, and with that will come more people needing to know how to use their device properly. Taking some time to get used to your new OS is probably the best advice you’re going to get, as taking time to learn tricks and tips can save you time in the long run.

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About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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