How to set up your new Chromebook the right way

Setting up a new Chromebook is much easier than setting up a PC. Chromebooks don’t require major updates or antivirus software. You start simply by signing in with your Google Account (or creating that account, if you don’t already have one). 

That said, Chromebooks have some unique quirks—such as limited offline capabilities, and a wonky method for connecting a printer. Here’s everything you need to know to set up your new Chromebook up the right way—starting with the tools that let you replace the Windows software that just won’t work on a Googley laptop.

Gather your apps

The app ecosystem for Chromebooks is evolving. Yes, Chromebooks are primarily conduits to the web. But aside from very specific computing demands, such as high-end gaming or video and image editing, the gap between what a Chromebook can or can’t do is quickly closing. There are a slew of superb, powerful web apps available that can already replace most people’s basic desktop software. 

google drive offline

You can still work in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides offline by enabling this feature in the settings.

Name brands are making their way to Chrome. Microsoft is bringing Skype to the web (and native webRTC-based voice and video chats are already here). The absolutely free Office Online works with traditional Office docs and offers enough features for mainstream users. There’s even hope for web-based gaming

We were hopeful about Photoshop—Adobe is working on a version that can be used with Chromebooks. As of this writing, alas the product remains in beta, and the beta program is closed to newcomers. 

chrome keyboard help

Pressing Crtl-Alt-? simultaneously can reveal all the secret Chromebook keyboard shortcuts.

The other typical knock on Chromebooks is that they’re not as useful offline. While that’s still true to some degree, Google and numerous third-party developers have been working hard to enable offline capabilities in their web apps. The Chrome Web Store (which is the digital storefront for Chrome apps) even features a section dedicated to offline apps

Still, the Chrome App ecosystem is small potatoes next to Android’s. Google’s fixing that by putting Android apps on Chromebooks. 

Preparing your Chromebook for offline use

Beyond offline Chrome Apps, numerous native Chromebook apps and features can be configured for use away from the web.


Select Language