If you’re a Google Apps for Business or Education administrator, set up of user desktops just got simpler. Now, you can centrally install Chrome apps and extensions for your users from the administrative control panel. This is especially useful for organizations without an “old-school” server: there’s no more need to set up each user’s system, apps, and extensions individually. The changes, which Google announced in an April 2013 post by Cyrus Mistry, provide “cloud-based management of Chrome for Google Apps for Business and Education customers.”

Just four months ago, I’d provided a Checklist for setting up a user with Google Apps and Chrome. Consider this my streamlined, updated list to achieve a similar deployment with less work.

For Administrators: Control Panel Settings

Login to your Google Apps Control Panel at http://www.google.com/a/yourdomain.com, replacing your domain with your actual Google Apps domain name.

  • 1. Enable Chrome Sync to ensure a consistent experience for users
    • a. Navigate to Users | Services | enter “Google Chrome Sync” in the service search box. Make sure the slider is set to “on”.
  • 2. Enable Offline work (omit to increase security)
    • a. From the control panel dashboard, go to Settings | Gmail | General Settings | make sure the box next to “Enable offline Gmail for my users” is checked.
    • b. From the control panel dashboard, go to Settings | Drive | General | Offline | make sure the box next to “Allow users to enable offline docs” is checked.
    • c. After enabling offline docs, scroll down a bit further (to Settings | Drive | General | Drive) and choose to “Allow users to download, install and use Google Drive”.
  • 3. Enable Google+ to enable Hangouts and social sharing (again, omit to increase security)
    • a. Enable Google+ preview features by going to Settings | Google+.
  • 4. Configure Chrome Apps and Extensions to install.
    • a. Go to Settings | Chrome Management | User Settings | scroll to the “Apps and Extensions” section. Click on “Manage pre-installed apps”.
Google released new Chrome Management options for Google Apps in April 2013

Here, you can choose the various apps and extensions to install for your users. For example, you might consider installing the following apps or extensions:

This is where the time savings occurs: you choose this set once. When users login to Chrome on their desktops, the apps and extensions automatically install. There’s no need to install each of these on every user’s desktop anymore.

Administrators can choose Chrome apps and extensions to automatically install
  • 5. Chrome Startup and Home settings
    • a. For organizations, you can define a homepage, as well as configure browser tabs to open on startup. To do this, scroll down to “Startup” in the Chrome Management User Settings.
    • b. For the Home Button, choose “Always show ‘Home’ button”.
    • c. For Homepage, choose “Homepage is always the Homepage URL, set below”, and then enter the organization’s website URL.
    • d. Finally, in the “Pages to Load on Startup”, add the URLs (links) to open when Chrome starts. The first page is likely to be the organization’s website. Other pages you might open on startup are the user’s email, calendar, or documents.
Administrators may also choose which web pages load at startup

For Users: Install Chrome

  • 1. Update the OS.
    • a.Yes, this is technically optional. But in environments where users manage their own desktops, it is always a good idea to remind users to apply operating system updates.
  • 2. Install Chrome
  • 3. Login to Chrome
    • a. Once installed, Chrome will prompt a user to login the first time the application starts. Otherwise, users can login by clicking on the “Hot dog menu” in the upper right, then choosing “Sign in to Chrome”.
Users just need to install and login to Chrome
  • 4. Wait a few minutes for items to sync.
    • a. After login, your Chrome apps and extensions will automatically download. Depending on the speed of your Internet connection, this may take a few minutes. Some apps and extensions also require additional user login or approvals. Users will need to complete these initial setup items.

(One note: in my testing, I found that if a user was previously logged in to Chrome, new apps or extensions configured to install by the administrator weren’t always automatically deployed. Signing out of Chrome, then signing back in seemed to ensure that the full set of apps and extensions appeared.)

Much Simpler

Overall, the new Chrome Management settings simplify deployment of Google Apps for organizations lacking conventional servers. The Google Apps administrator customizes Chrome Management options; users install Chrome and login.

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