Mobility

Make your Chromebook experience even more efficient with these tips

If you're looking for ways to make your Chromebook a bit more efficient, here are seven possibilities that might have you working faster with the Chrome OS platform.

One of the many reasons to use a Chromebook is efficiency. The platform was designed around the idea that simplicity is akin to efficiency. In that regard, Google was dead on. That doesn't mean, however, that the platform is perfectly efficient for everyone. There are some that require a few tweaks, in order for Chrome OS to perform exactly as they need.

If you are one such person, you've come to the right place. I have a few tips that will help to make Chrome OS a much more efficient platform for you. With that said, read on.

Switch the Search button

When I'm writing a book, I sometimes make notes in all caps. That's all fine and good when I'm working on my desktop. But typing in all caps on Chrome OS...not so good. Fortunately, that's not a problem. If you want to change that Search button (the one where the caps lock usually lives) into the key you expect, here's how:

  1. Open up Settings
  2. Under Device, click Keyboard settings
  3. Click the Search drop-down and select Caps Lock
  4. Click OK

chrometipsa.png
Changing the behavior of the Search key.
Image: Jack Wallen

Your Search key is now a caps lock key. Congratulations!

If, however, you don't want to change that setting (you actually like the search function), you can get caps lock functionality by pressing [Alt][Search]. At this point you have caps lock. To unset caps lock, hit the same key combination. You're good to go.

Quickly open apps

Those apps you have pinned to the task bar...each one is associated with a numerical key. From left to right (skipping the Menu button), they go from 1 to 10 (ten being 0). Say, for instance, you have the Chrome launcher pinned in the number 1 spot (directly to the right of the Menu button). If you click [Alt][1] Chrome will launch.

Find out how much local space you have

If you're curious as to how much space you have remaining on your local drive, do the following:

Open Chrome on your Chromebook

Enter chrome://quota-internals in the address bar

Hit Enter

You should get a quick report on how much free disk space is available on the local drive:

chrometipsb.png
Finding out how much free space is on your device.
Image: Jack Wallen

Re-enable tap dragging

If you've found your touchpad no longer does tap dragging (aka drag and drop), that means the feature has been disabled in a recent upgrade. Here's how you get it back:

  1. Open up Settings
  2. Search for tap dragging
  3. Click to enable the feature
  4. Close settings

chrometipsc.png
Enabling tap dragging.
Image: Jack Wallen

You are now back to dragging and dropping.

Save webpages for offline reading

The Chromebook is much-aligned for being an online-only tool. That is not the case. Even through the Chromebook can work offline with ease, it cannot reach web pages when there is no internet connection. Fear not, intrepid Chrome OS users. If you frequently need to read web pages while offline, all you have to do is visit the page you want to read (while online) and then hit [Control][S] to save the page for offline reading. To read the page, open up Files, locate the saved page, and double-click the saved file. As you can see below, I am viewing a TechRepublic page while from my local drive.

chrometipsd.png
Viewing a web page from the local storage.
Image: Jack Wallen

Quickly create archives of files

If you have a number of files you want to add to an archive, you don't have to first create a folder, move the files into the folder, and then zip the folder. Just do this:

  1. Open the File manager
  2. Navigate to the location housing the files
  3. Select all files to be archived
  4. Right click the selection
  5. Click Zip selection

chrometipse.png
Archiving files on Chrome OS.
Image: Jack Wallen

You should now see a compressed file named archive.zip

Quickly find your IP address and MAC address

If you have the need to know your IP and MAC addresses of your Chromebook, do the following:

  1. Click on the Ash Tray (aka the system tray)
  2. Click on the wireless network you are connected to
  3. Click the little i in the bottom right corner (see below figure)

chrometipsf.png
Finding your IP and MAC address is simple.
Image: Jack Wallen

The address information will appear in a bubble.

Chrome OS is one of the most user-friendly and efficient platforms you will ever use. If you haven't found a tip here that has helped you gain a bit more speed and ease, fear not...more are on the way.

See also:

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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