Mobility

How to get Google Now in your Chromebook Start menu

Do you long to have more features in your Chromebook Start menu? If so, Jack Wallen walks you through the steps for adding Google Now to your Chrome OS experience.

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.

starta.png
The Start menu as seen through the Chrome Stable channel.
Image: Jack Wallen

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.

startb.png
The Start menu as seen through the Dev channel.
Image: Jack Wallen

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

startc.png
Switching channels on a Chromebook.
Image: Jack Wallen

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.

startd.png
The new-look Start menu.
Image: Jack Wallen

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?

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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