That'll seek out and apply any available updates for any Linux programs you have installed. Chrome OS is full of hidden shortcuts and time-saving possibilities — including some super-useful things that require just a few minutes of your time to set up once or revisit so they'll work to your greatest advantage. First up is the system tray — that dock-like bar of shortcuts at the bottom of your screen. Take a moment to make sure the apps or processes you open most often are in that area; if they aren't, drag 'em out of the launcher and put 'em in place.
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And remember: The tray doesn't have to be limited only to formal apps. You can also add in shortcuts to a commonly accessed website be it something like Gmail or Google Drive or even your company's internal content management system by opening the site in a regular browser tab, clicking the three-dot menu icon in the upper-right corner, and selecting "More tools" followed by "Create shortcut.
Now, the part most relevant to our purposes: Keep in mind that you can open each item in that list from anywhere in your system by pressing Alt and then the number key corresponding with its position. Pretty handy, eh?
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Next, save yourself even more valuable seconds by setting up on-demand shortcuts for your favorite web-based search functions. You can do that for most any site with a search option, whether it's Google Images, Twitter, or Thesaurus. Here's the trick: Go to the website in question and perform a search — then copy the URL that ends up in your address bar with the results. With Thesaurus. So in our Thesaurus.
Once that's done, you can simply type your keyword into Chrome's address bar, hit Tab, and then type in whatever term you want to search for — and as soon as you hit enter, you'll be taken directly to the associated site's results page for that term. I use this constantly, for all sorts of purposes. Bonus tip: You can also set up a custom search engine without the search parameter in place to create a shortcut for any site or internal Chrome function. On every Chrome-including system I use, for instance, I can type cs into the address bar to pull up Chrome's settings in a jiff. I can type c to pull up Computerworld.
You get the idea. Finally, if you have certain words or phrases you find yourself typing over and over — addresses, phone numbers, recipes for baba ganoush, and so on — consider setting up a Chrome-OS-friendly text replacement tool.
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That will let you create custom keyboard shortcuts for all your favorite phrases and can save your stunning fingies from so much needless pecking. Everything you need to get started is right here. It's easy to get spoiled with the effectiveness of voice input on your phone — so why not bring that same speaking power to your Chromebook? Yes, indeedly: Chrome OS has a little-known option for system-wide dictation, and it works whether you're using your device as a laptop or in a tablet-like state.
All you've gotta do is enable it: Open up your Chromebook's settings, scroll all the way down to the bottom, and tap "Advanced. Next, activate the toggle next to "Enable dictation speak to type. And that's it: You'll now see a small microphone icon in the lower-right corner of your screen, right next to the notification panel. Tap it anywhere, anytime, and start talking, and your words will show up on your screen — in whatever field you have focused, no matter what app or process you're using. Chromebooks don't tend to have a ton of local space, so take a minute to open your device's Files app and clear out any clutter you no longer need.
All set? This next part's equally easy: We're gonna connect your Chromebook's Downloads folder to the cloud so that anything you download will automatically sync with your Google Drive storage and thus be available wherever you might need it — on your Android phone, on a traditional desktop computer, or even on another Chrome OS device. Chrome OS is all about this kind of automatic syncing and device-agnostic access in general, but this is one area where it oddly doesn't do that by default.
So here's the plan: Head back into your Chromebook's settings, select "Advanced," then find the line labeled "Location" under the "Downloads" header. Click "Change" and select a folder or make a new folder specifically for downloads within your Google Drive storage.
Easy, right? There's nothing more to it: Anything you download on your Chromebook will be saved to Drive and available anywhere else you sign in from this moment forward. Bonus tip: You can take this same concept a step further by setting up your Android phone and any other computers you use — Windows, Mac, whatever — to also sync their downloads with that same Drive folder. That'll create a single internet-based downloads folder that keeps everything you download in one universally accessible place, no matter what device you're using.
Go ahead and take a moment to marvel over what a wondrous notion that is, then go here to get started. Last but not least, a quick bit of tune-up that'll take some of the strain off your peepers so you can better focus — on Very Important work documents, Very Important Winger videos, or whatever other Very Important content you might be viewing.
A relatively recent update to Chrome OS added an incredibly beneficial Android-born visibility feature, y'see, and it's well worth your while to enable. It's called Night Light, and it adjusts the temperature of your device's display to make it less bright-white and glary in the evening hours or any other time you find yourself in dimly lit conditions.
It's so impossibly sensible, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. You can activate Chrome OS's Night Light mode with a fast tap in the Quick Settings panel — the Android-reminiscent interface that appears whenever you click or tap the status bar area in the lower-right corner of the screen — but the more advanced option resides deep within the bowels of the Chrome OS settings. Apologies for the choice of phrase there. I promise it really isn't that bad. Just open up those trusty ol' settings once more, and this time navigate to "Displays" under the "Device" header and look for the "Night Light" section at the bottom of that screen.
There, you can set an automatic schedule for when the Night Light mode should turn itself on — based on specific times of day or even on when the sun sets and rises. Your eyes will thank you. And with that, my dear comrade, your Chrome OS tune-up is complete. So what now?
Well, goodness gracious, you've got no shortage of enticing options. If you're still hungering for more fresh Chromebook knowledge, check out my massive collection of advanced Chrome OS tips. Or if you haven't yet tackled your annual Android phone tune-up , by golly, get to it. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and enjoy your newly polished and optimized Chrome OS device. And go grab yourself a cookie, too, why don't ya? You deserve it.
Sign up for my weekly newsletter to get more practical tips, personal recommendations, and plain-English perspective on the news that matters. Contributing Editor JR Raphael serves up tasty morsels about the human side of technology.
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Here are the latest Insider stories. More Insider Sign Out. Given that Chrome is used by about 56 percent of web users, according to StatCounter , being filtered could amount to a massive drop in ad revenue for sites that don't preemptively clean house. But it's unclear whether disappearing only the most annoying one percent of ads on the web will stop people from installing ad-blockers—let alone win back people who already use them—if other irritating practices continue, and users still worry about privacy and security.
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Major web browsers have long blocked ads that open new browser windows. The end of those "pop-up" and "pop-under" ads was a blessing. But it didn't stop new forms of aggravating ads from proliferating.
Getting rid of talking ads and countdowns would be great. Truly cleaning up the advertising ecosystem will take time. You might see fewer ads on the web from now on. But you probably won't.
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