Chromebook For Dummies book cover

Chromebook For Dummies

By: Peter H. Gregory Published: 03-31-2020

Get the most out of your Google Chromebook

Chromebook For Dummies walks you through setting up your Chromebook, transitioning from traditional computers, customizing a Chromebook to fit your needs, navigating the many apps and their uses, and applying advanced settings and features.

This book documents the features of all Chromebooks, approaching them from the point of view of a smart person who is intimidated by the technology.

  • Offers extensive and practical information
  • Covers all portable computers powered by Chrome OS
  • Helps make it easy to drive these fast, user-friendly devices
  • Includes coverage of the latest features in the Chrome operating system 

You’ll end up keeping this book close at hand, referring to it often as you explore the features of your Chromebook.

Articles From Chromebook For Dummies

6 results
6 results
Chromebook For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-09-2021

The Chromebook is designed to rely heavily on the Internet for most of its functionality. Instead of a large hard drive, Chromebook relies primarily on cloud-based storage. In place of many resident applications, Chromebook uses web-based applications that you access through the Google Web Store and Google Play Store. Because so many functions are obscure, some Chromebook settings — such as cloud printing, email vacation responders, and function keys — can be a little challenging to set up or use. This Cheat Sheet shows you how to take advantage of these functions and shortcut keys.

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How to Update Your Chromebook

Article / Updated 07-01-2020

From time to time, Google releases software updates for the Chrome OS that runs your Chromebook. Sometimes these software updates are security related, installing these updates when they’re available is always a good idea. To check for updates, follow these steps: Go to Settings. If a software update is available for your Chromebook, you see a message like the one shown below. Click Restart to Update. Your Chromebook downloads the update and restarts. When you click Settings, you might also see a message like the one below that tells you that apps you downloaded from the Google Play Store have updates available. When you see this message, click Update All. In checking for Chrome OS updates, you’re just looking at your notifications. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of glancing down at the lower-right corner of the screen at the notifications area to see whether Chrome OS wants to tell you things, such as about updates and other issues. Want more Chromebook Tips? Use our Chromebook cheat sheet to learn more.

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How to Powerwash a Chromebook

Article / Updated 06-03-2020

Sometimes it’s nice to have a clean start. Your Chromebook makes it easy for you to wipe the slate clean and start over. On the Chromebook, this is known as powerwashing. You may find doing so useful when you have too much junk on your device. Or maybe you want to reset your Chromebook to its default settings because you’re giving your Chromebook to another person. You can wipe your device quickly, easily, and securely by using Chromebook’s built-in Powerwash feature. To powerwash your Chromebook, log in to your Chromebook and follow these steps: Open the Settings panel on the Shelf and click Settings. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click Show Advanced Settings. Click the Powerwash button in the Powerwash section at the bottom of the screen.A dialog box appears, telling you that a restart is required. If you’re positive that you want to wipe your Chromebook clean, click the Restart button. You can’t undo power washing any more than you can unbreak an egg. After you click Restart, your Chromebook turns into a secure, power-cleaning machine. Nothing on the device will be left. The good news is that it won’t touch anything on your Google Drive or other web services. But anything stored locally on your Chromebook will be gone forever. Your Chromebook restarts, as clean as can be — just like new.

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How to Connect a Printer to Your Chromebook

Article / Updated 04-16-2020

The world is not quite paperless; sometimes you need a hard copy. For example, you may need to print and sign a legal agreement, or you might want to print a recipe to jot notes on. Lucky for you, it’s easy to connect a printer to your Chromebook. Many kinds of printers are available, and you have several ways to set them up. up I cover the basics here. When you shop for a new printer to work with your Chromebook, if you stick with major brands (Brother, Canon, Epson, HP, and Lexmark, for example), chances are your printer and your Chromebook will get along just fine. Still, it’s probably wise to ensure that any new printer you are thinking of buying will work with your Chromebook with no fuss. It’s a good idea to ask a salesperson, read the specs, and read reviews. Direct connect printing on your Chromebook Direct connect, which is the easiest type of printing to set up, involves connecting a USB cable from your printer to your Chromebook. You need to follow the instructions that came with your printer, and if they vary from the steps here, definitely go with the printer’s instructions! Otherwise, follow these steps: Turn on the printer and connect the USB cable from your printer to a USB plug on your Chromebook. On your Chromebook screen, click the status area to open the Settings view and then click the Settings icon(which looks like a tiny gear near the top-right corner). The Settings window opens. Scroll all the way down in the Settings window and click Advanced. You see the Advanced settings section in the Settings window. Keep scrolling until you find Printing; then click Printers. Click Add Printer. The Add a Nearby Printer window appears and your printer should appear in a list. (Your printer might be the only one in the list.) Click the printer that is shown. It should match the make and model of printer that your Chromebook is connected to. Click Save. That’s all you should need to do. You can rename your printer if you want. To change your printer’s name, click the three little dots to the right of the printer and then, in the little window that appears, click Edit to open the Edit Printer window. In the Printer Name field, enter your printer’s new name and click Save. (You should not need to change anything else in the Edit Printer window). Here’s a bit of trivia: The symbol with the three little dots is sometimes called a Twinkie. If you’re not sure why this is, go buy a Twinkie and look at it from underneath. You will find three little holes there, which is where the manufacturer injects a whipped-cream-like substance into the bread-like substance. Enjoy! Wi-Fi printing from your Chromebook Several brands of printers support Wi-Fi printing so that you don’t have to connect a USB cable to your printer. One great advantage of having a Wi-Fi–supported printer is that you can print from anyplace in your home or office. Be sure to follow your printer’s setup instructions for this type of printing, in case they vary from the procedure outlined here. Here are the basics of setting up Wi-Fi printing on your Chromebook: Turn on your printer and follow its setup instructions to connect it to your Wi-Fi network. Have your Wi-Fi network identifier and password handy. Your Wi-Fi network identifier is the name of the network to which you connect your Chromebook. On your Chromebook screen, click the status area to open the Settings view and then click the Settings icon (which looks like a tiny gear near the top right corner of the status window). The Settings window appears. Scroll all the way down in the Settings window, and click Advanced. The Advanced settings section in the Settings window appears. Keep scrolling until you find Printing; then click Printers. Click Add Printer. The Add a Nearby Printer window appears. Your printer should appear in a list. If you don’t see it, check to see whether the printer is still turned on. Click the printer that matches the make and model of printer that your Chromebook is connected to. Click Save. That’s all you should need to do. Use this guide to learn about cloud printing with your Chromebook.

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10 Chromebook Security Tips

Article / Updated 04-16-2020

Cybercriminals are making good money, but let’s make sure that they don’t get any of yours! Having a Chromebook is a great start because the design of Chrome OS — the heart and soul of a Chromebook — has security strongly in mind. The nature of cybercrime makes it necessary for you to be vigilant, even when using the most secure laptop available. These tips can help keep you and your Chromebook data safe. Lock your Chromebook when you’re away Whenever you’re working on your Chromebook where other people are around, an excellent habit to get into is to lock it when you step away, even for a minute or two. You can easily lock it; Chromebooks give you not one, not two, but three ways, as follows: Briefly press the Power button and then click Lock. Open the Settings window and click the Lock symbol. Press the Lock key on your keyboard. Use strong, complex passwords to protect your Chromebook The top ten passwords in use in 2019 are 123456, 123456789, qwerty, 12345678, 111111, 1234567890, 1234567, password, 123123, and 987654321. The next ten are just as lame. Using such passwords is just laziness, and user accounts with weak passwords like these are broken into a lot. Using stronger, complex passwords isn’t difficult. Here are some examples of better ones (but don’t use these because they’re easily found now): wars (Star Wars) (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds) Run-Forr35t-Run! (Run Forrest Run!) Sea-Sp00t-Run (See Spot run) The idea is to think of a phrase and then devise some consistent way of misspelling it that you can remember. You need to use a different password on each site you use. Here’s why: If cybercriminals can successfully break into a website’s user IDs and passwords database (which happens often), and if you use the same user ID and password everywhere you go, the cybercriminals who stole these credentials can easily log in to all the websites you use frequently. If this includes online banking or other sites on which you buy or sell, you’re in big trouble. Use complex passwords on your websites, and a different password on each site, is a lot to remember — so read the next tip. Use a web-based password vault to keep your Chromebook safe Maintaining security isn’t easy. Using different passwords on each site is definitely the way to be more secure, but remembering all those passwords can be challenging. The good news is you don’t have to. Some trusted, high-quality password vaults are available. These securely store your login credentials so that you don’t need to remember them all. Some of these vaults can even automatically enter your login credentials when you log in. How cool is that! The best password vaults are LastPass, Keeper, and Dashlane. Use multifactor authentication everywhere you can One of the biggest threats on the Internet involves the theft of login credentials for popular websites. Even if Chrome OS is resistant to attack, hackers use malicious browser extensions that are designed to steal user IDs and passwords when you type them in. Also, cybercriminals directly attack popular website databases and, if they can break in, often they go for encrypted password databases and attempt to decrypt them. If they do, they have the user IDs and passwords for many — or all — of the site’s users! Using multifactor authentication is generally pretty easy. When you log in to a website, the website sends a code to your smartphone, and you type in that code to log in. Even if hackers can obtain your user ID and password, they can’t log in because they don’t have your smartphone as well. Be on the lookout on your social media, financial services, medical, and other websites where sensitive information about you resides. When you see information about activating multifactor authentication (sometimes called two-factor authentication), please consider enabling it. You’ll thwart cybercriminals, and your data will be a little bit safer. Get a screen privacy filter for your Chromebook If you work with confidential information on your Chromebook, and do so frequently in public places, you might consider getting a screen privacy filter. It helps to keep prying eyes that glance at your screen from seeing what you’re up to. When using a privacy filter, you can clearly see the screen, but people to your left and right just black when they look at your screen. Keep your business information, or those cat videos, to yourself! Block malicious websites with an antimalware program Chrome OS is quite robust and resistant to the kinds of attacks that have plagued Windows computers for decades. Still, hazards are out there, and most of the attacks you face are attacks on your browser in the form of malicious extensions and websites that attempt to steal your data. Security programs like AVG Online Security or McAfee Endpoint Security are available from the Google web Store. They are purpose-made for Chromebooks and help protect you from known malicious websites and other threats. Update the security on your Wi-Fi access point You’re only as secure as the Wi-Fi network you usually use. If you have a new Chromebook and your Wi-Fi access point (which might be doing double-duty as your cable modem or DSL modem) is old, you might consider replacing it with a newer one. The two most important security settings to look at on your Wi-Fi access point are the type of encryption (which is usually none, WEP, WPA, or WPA2 — pick WPA2!) and the default password. Be sure to read the instructions for your Wi-Fi access point carefully. Visit the Wi-Fi access point manufacturer’s website for help. You might also pick up a copy of Networking For Dummies, 11th Edition, by Doug Lowe (Wiley) for more information on securing and customizing your home Wi-Fi network. Back up the local data on your Chromebook With ordinary use of your Chromebook, most of the data you create and deal with is stored by Google “in the cloud,” where it is available on all of your Google-enabled devices. Still, you might have local data that matters to you. The best way to find out is to open the Files app and see what data is stored locally. Anything in the Downloads, Images, Audio, or Video folders might exist only there and nowhere else. If this is the case, and you care about any of these files, it’s best to copy them to your Google Drive: Just drag and drop your files to it — into separate folders if you want. Alternatively, you can back up these files to an external hard drive or SD card if you prefer to maintain complete control over this data. Either way, backing up your local data is easy and takes only moments. Use a VPN if you use public Wi-Fi routinely If you frequent Wi-Fi networks at coffee shops, hotels, airports, and other public places, I recommend that you subscribe to a VPN service. Getting a free VPN service is likely to do more harm than good. Instead, go with one of the leading VPN services, such as Nord VPN,, ExpressVPN, or Cyberghost VPN. VPN software encrypts all your Wi-Fi network communications so that snoopy people can’t eavesdrop on any of your communications on a public Wi-Fi network. This issue is less important at home where, hopefully, your Wi-Fi access point is configured to use WPA or, better yet, WPA2, which encrypts your network traffic at home. Keep your Chromebook up to date The best — and most important — security tip has been saved for last. Keeping your Chromebook’s Chrome OS up to date is vital for your security, as well as for the stability of your Chromebook. Be sure to watch your notifications and act promptly to update Chrome OS as well as all the apps you’ve downloaded from the Chrome Web Store and the Google Play Store. Although some of the updates fix software bugs, you can be sure that many of the fixes improve the security of your Chromebook and the apps you run. When these security bugs are fixed, criminals have a harder time breaking in and stealing your data.

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10 Handy Chromebook Shortcuts

Article / Updated 04-16-2020

A Chromebook is made to be easy to use right out of the box. It’s not a self-driving car, but it’s almost as easy. Get it out, plug it in, turn it on, and follow the prompts: You’ll be up and running in minutes. Still, even though Chromebook is very usable, you may want to do some further customization. This article contains ten tips, tricks, and shortcuts to make your Chromebook experience more productive — or at least a little more fun. Search your Chromebook from the Launcher The Google platform is baked into the Chromebook and Chrome OS through and through. That was the point when Chromebook was created: Create a tool that’s powered by — and showcases — the extensive Google ecosystem of applications. One way in which the Google platform is integrated into Chrome OS is the Chromebook Search feature. When you open the Launcher or press the Search button on your keyboard, a Search bar is revealed. Type a search query into the bar and press Enter. Chromebook serves you Google search results, as though you had first opened a browser and gone to to find something. Do a quick reboot on your Chromebook No computer is perfect, and although some manufacturers like to make you think that you’ll never need to reboot your computer, you almost always will at one point or another. The longer you use your Chromebook, the more gunked up the memory becomes with remnant websites, applications, data, and so on. You can reboot your computer a few ways, but the fastest way to reboot is to press the Power button and Refresh button simultaneously. Like a flash of light, your Chromebook restarts with fresh memory in just a few seconds. Note, however, that when you start the Chrome browser after a reboot, it picks up where you left off if you configured Chrome to do so. But when you do a quick restart, Chrome asks whether you want to restore pages,” meaning just that: it will pick up where you left off, or you can just select that little box and start anew. Control your Chromebook with the Omnibox If you’re familiar with Chrome from using it on devices other than your Chromebook, you may already know that Chrome has several high-powered features that you can access by entering Chrome shortcuts into the Omnibox (the search or URL field). Naturally, Chrome on Chromebook has the same set of features. Following are some of the shortcuts you might find the most helpful: chrome://power: View how much charge your Chromebook has and how much power you’re using. chrome://settings: Load your Chromebook settings. chrome://extensions: See and manage all your Chrome browser extensions. chrome:// quota-internals: Quickly view how much storage space you have on your Chromebook. chrome://chrome-urls: A complete list of all these Chrome URLs. Lock your Chromebook screen Ever been in a public place working on your computer and need to get up to go to the bathroom in a hurry? Or maybe someone is barging into your room, and you don’t want him or her to get into your business and see what you’re doing on your Chromebook? You can lock your screen by holding down your Power button for 400 milliseconds and then clicking Lock. But sometimes you need to lock your screen in 1 millisecond. Never fear: Press the Lock key to lock your screen in an instant! Launch Chromebook apps in the shelf One way that you can save time on your Chromebook is by pinning frequently used apps to the shelf. In doing so, you save yourself the extra click, as well as the scrolling through pages of applications to find the one you want. If you’re serious about keyboard productivity, you can save yourself the need to even click: Load a pinned app by pressing Alt and the number corresponding with the placement of the application in your shelf (counting from left to right or top to bottom). No longer will you be bogged down by the long journey of a mouse pointer to a click. Do a barrel roll on your Chromebook Sometimes, you just need to have a little fun with your day. Google has hidden a few Easter eggs in your Chromebook. Make your screen do a barrel roll. That’s it. No productivity, usefulness, or work-changing functionality here. It’s just fun to make your screen go bananas for a brief moment. Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Refresh to make your focused browser window roll around and then snap back to normal. (If all apps are minimized and you see only your wallpaper, nothing will happen.) View Chrome browser tasks Have you ever wondered why your Chromebook has slowed down but weren’t sure which tab was responsible? Find out by going to the Chrome browser, clicking the menu button (just under the X used to close the window), clicking More Tools, and then clicking Task Manager. A new window opens, showing the tasks running on your Chromebook. Click CPU, and Chrome sorts the list, showing the biggest users first. Further, if you think a tab is causing browser problems, fix it by clicking the corresponding row in Task Manager and then clicking End Process. See all the open windows on your Chromebook If you’ve been using your Chromebook for a while and doing a lot of different things with it, you might have a lot of apps open. Press the Show All Open Windows key to immediately show all the apps and windows that are open on your Chromebook. What to do from here? Press the Show All Open Windows key again to return to what you were doing before. Or, click any of the open windows to switch to the one you want. Perform math, conversions, and definitions with Search Google Search is a major feature that’s available on a Chromebook. Have you ever used Google to perform conversions or calculations for you? If you haven’t, you should. Your Chromebook will give you the same service through the Search bar. Give it a try with these steps: While logged into your Chromebook, click the Launcher. The app menu opens, and the Search bar appears. Enter your math problem or search query into the Search bar. For example, type 4+4. The second result will be the answer: =8. You can even ask for conversions: Type 15 ounces to grams. The second result is = 425.2428 grams. Enter a word to define into the Search bar. For example, type define cello. The result is “the bass member of the violin family tuned an octave below the viola.” Google Translate is also available on Chromebook through the Chrome browser. Google can translate words and phrases from one language to another. Use a proxy for the Chromebook’s delete key It’s true: Your Chromebook doesn’t have a Delete key. It has a Backspace key, but no Delete key (unless you’re one of the fortunate few). Here’s the difference between these two keys: Delete removes the character to the right of your cursor, whereas Backspace removes the character to the left of your cursor. This is handy if you are typing an email message or composing or editing a document. To delete characters to the right of your cursor, press Alt+Backspace. Characters to the right are deleted one by one. You can also delete entire words to the left of your cursor by pressing Ctrl+Backspace. The words start to vanish one by one. Want to learn more about what your Chromebook can do? Check out our Chromebook cheat sheet to learn more.

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