If you're a user of the Chromebook, there is one issue that you know you will someday have to face—running out of space. Internal storage on Chromebooks is very similar to that of smartphone, in that it is very limited. For those that are diligent about keeping their systems clean, this isn't a problem. If, however, you are one of those that tends to forget about keeping track of your local storage space, you might find yourself out of space and having to finally go through and delete.
Fortunately, most Chromebooks include support for external SD cards. This means you can snag as large a card as you can afford, slip it into the device, and expand the size of your internal storage. However there's still one issue—the Downloads folder. No matter how large of a card you insert, that Chromebook's Downloads folder defaults to the internal storage.
Not a problem. Open up the ChromeOS Settings window and then click Show advanced settings. Scroll down until you see the Downloads section. From here you can either change the default location for Downloads and/or you can have Chrome ask you where to save each file before downloading:
I highly recommend both. If you can leave your SD card in the device, then I suggest you set the Downloads directory to the SD card location. One caveat to this solution is that some Chromebooks, such as the Acer C720, leave the SD card sticking too far out of the slot to be a semi-permanent solution (whereas devices like the Chromebook Pixel allow the SD card to sit flush with the body).
If you happen to own a Chromebook that doesn't allow a flush insertion of the SD card, there is another option. You can set the Downloads directory to your Google Drive folder. At first, one might consider the Google Drive location to be a bit of a challenge. What if you're offline? How do you save downloads to a cloud location. To that, there is a simple answer—if you're offline, you won't be downloading files from the network in the first place.
The nice thing about enabling the ask where to save each file before downloading is that you can pick and choose where each file goes. If you're downloading a larger file, save it to your SD card. If you're downloading a file that would wind up in your Google Drive cloud storage, save it there. If you're download a temporary file, save it in the local Downloads folder (and delete it when finished).
Anyone who considers the small size of Chromebook internal storage hasn't really considered the nature of the platform and the actual options available. With just a bit of forethought, you can expand the capacity and ability of that Chromebook well beyond any manufacturer limitation. Cloud storage. Removable SD cards. The Chromebook platform can easily meet your mobility-centric needs in many ways.
Have you found ways to get beyond manufacture-induced limitations of your Chromebook? If so, share with your fellow TechRepublic readers.
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.