25 best Chromebook tips and tricks 2021

by Joseph K. Clark

Millions of people are using Chromebooks, but not every power feature is easy to access despite their simple and “for everyone” nature. All the best, Chromebooks are potent tools just waiting to be used to their full potential, and once you know a few tricks, you’ll feel like you’re getting even more value out of your inexpensive computer. We’ve rounded up over 20 tips and tricks to try on your Chromebook to start making the most of your machine.

1. Use third-party DNS

There are many reasons to use third-party DNS (Domain Name Server or the sort of “address book” for the Internet). Some say they are faster; some claim they are more secure, and using one is a great way to get around any silly content blocks that may be in place on the servers of the people who provide you with your Internet.

Using them on your Chromebook is easy. Open the settings page, and click on the network name you want to change. In the window that comes up, choose the network tab. At the bottom, you can choose which name servers to use. You’ll see automatic and Google options, or you can enter some manually if you know precisely what you want.


2. Type Unicode characters

Your Chromebook has a full keyboard, but sometimes you want to type a character that doesn’t have its key, like æ or Ü or ʓ or even string them together for the perfect look of disapproval ಠ_ಠ. To do it, you’ll need to type a Unicode character.

Knowing what the Unicode characters are isn’t something you’ll be memorizing (here’s a cheat sheet), but typing them is easy once you know the number. Press Ctrl + U + the number, and they’ll be placed.

3. Use Chrome overview

A built-in overview mode on your Chromebook lets you see every open window at a glance. If you’ve ever used a Mac, this is just like Expose. It’s also just as helpful!

On the top row of the keyboard, press the [ ]|| button (above the six key) or swipe down from the top with three fingers on your trackpad or touchscreen to go into the overview. Clicking any of the thumbnails will open that window, and connecting in a blank space will return you to the last window you were viewing. If you have many windowed apps running all the time, this is a great time-saver.

As a bonus, while in overview mode, you can type to filter what you’re seeing. For example, typing “Google” will only show windows with the word Google in the title.

4. See all of your keyboard shortcuts

By now, you know that Chrome OS is full of handy keyboard shortcuts for things like reloading a page or going to your home page in the browser. There are so many that it’s almost impossible to keep track of them all. Finding out just what you can do so you know which ones to remember is easy.

Press Ctrl + Alt +? You’ll see an overlay of the keyboard with all the essential functions and shortcuts. Soon you’ll be a pro, and Shift + Alt + L-ing and Alt + Shift + B-ing are all over the place.

5. Refresh your Google Drive cache

Chromebooks can use Google Drive as extra storage, acting the same as the local storage. If you know there is a change in your saved Google Drive files but don’t see it, you can manually refresh your Chromebook’s local Drive cache.

In the Omnibar, type chrome://drive-internals/ and click the Clear local cache button, and the next time you open the file manager, you’ll sync again.

6. Take advantage of the Chromebook Perks

Part of the value of a Chromebook is in the extras you get along with your purchase. When you buy a computer running Chrome OS, you don’t just get a computer — Google throws some freebies your way. After buying your Chromebook and getting logged in, be sure to head to the Chromebook Perks Page to pick up these offers:

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