The Chromebook start menu is that place you go to find apps to launch and even (if you have it enabled) search Google through the quick search bar (Figure A). If you’re on the stable Chrome channel, that’s what you get.

However, if you’re working with either the Beta or Dev channel, you may have noticed a recent, interesting change to the Start menu. Out of the box, the Start menu includes the current Google Doodle as well as your most recent apps. You can still get to all your app by clicking on the All Apps icon.

That new Start menu also has a trick waiting for you to enjoy–integrated Google Now!

If you see no signs of the new Start menu, and want to know what it’s all about, you must be on either the Beta or Dev channel. Here’s how you change channels on a Chromebook.

  1. Open Settings
  2. Click About Chrome OS at the top of the Settings window
  3. In the new window, click More info…
  4. Click Change channel…
  5. Select either Beta or Developer ─ unstable
  6. When prompted, click Change channel and Powerwash

At this point, the new version will download and the Chromebook will reboot. Once you’ve rebooted, log back in, and get ready to take care of one final configuration–you have to enable to experimental Start menu. Here’s how:

  1. Open up the Chrome browser
  2. In the address bar, enter about:flags
  3. Locate Enable the experimental App Launcher
  4. Select Enable from the dropdown
  5. Close Chrome
  6. Restart your Chromebook

Once the Chromebook has restarted, log in and click the Start menu.

When you see the new version of the Start menu, do a two-finger downward scroll to reveal Google Now in the Start menu.

That’s it. You have Google Now–and all its card-y goodness–ready to be used in your Chromebook start menu.

What do you think about the new Start menu? Does having Google Now integrated make Chrome OS even more efficient, or is it just in the way of you getting your work done?

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