The time has finally come to ditch your old notebook, and to be honest, you are really sick of struggling with grueling boot times, virus problems and software updates that create problems rather than fix them. In this regard, you were considering the idea of buying an Acer Chromebook : a model that you had spotted online and that seemed particularly interesting to you. However, since this is a laptop that uses the Chrome OS operating system instead of the “classic” Windows, you have feared that the transition from one platform to another may be excessively abrupt and / or may limit you in the activities you carry out daily at the PC.
Your doubts are more than legitimate, I recognize it, but I can reassure you right away that they do not respond to reality! Chrome OS, the Google operating system that comes pre-installed on Chromebooks, is designed to be simple, fast and safe for everyone; but above all it makes the daily activities of work, study and leisure easier: it does not limit them at all. Switching from Windows to Chrome OS is super easy: just log into your Google account (which is certainly also used on Microsoft’s operating system) and you will immediately find your settings and data ready for use. As for the applications, then, nothing is missing: between Web apps and applications for Android it is possible to use all Google applications (from Chrome to Gmail, passing through Meet and Google Drive), the Office package, videoconferencing platforms, software multimedia editing and even video games.
All this while also relying on integrated virus protection, instant computer startup, an all-rounder button that allows you to find files, apps and information online “on the fly” and risk-free automatic operating system updates. In short, I assure you that switching from Windows to Chrome OS on Acer Chromebook is not only “painless” but advantageous for many types of users, as it allows you to work faster on low-cost computers destined to be much longer than classic laptops with Windows. How do you say? Would you like to know more? Then read on: now I’ll explain how to practically make the “switch” from Windows to Chrome OS: you will be amazed by the simplicity of everything.
- Chrome OS initial setup
- Explore Chrome OS
- Transfer data and applications from Windows to Chrome OS
- Connect external devices to the Chromebook
- Use Chrome OS offline
- For more information
Chrome OS initial setup
Remember how long it took you to set up your notebook with Windows the first time? What about startup times, what about? Well, Acer Chromebooks start up in a few moments and even the initial setup, to be done only the first time you turn on your computer, takes only a couple of minutes. Yes, you read that right!
At the end of the eventual update, indicate if the Chromebook will be used by you or by a child (to possibly create a user account with parental control) and log in to your Gmail account : by entering the same account you use now on your PC Windows, you will automatically find your contacts, Gmail emails, Drive documents and all your data and settings immediately ready for use, without having to configure anything else. If by any chance you can’t remember your account password, follow my guide on how to recover your Google password .
Choose, therefore, whether to synchronize Chrome and customize the Google services to be synchronized ; then configure the fingerprint unlock (otherwise you can access the system with the password of your Gmail account, with a numeric PIN to be set later or using your Android smartphone as a key) and that’s it.
Chrome OS will welcome you by asking if you want to activate the Google Assistant and the “OK Google” command , in order to have all the information most relevant to you at your fingertips and to issue voice commands and requests to your Acer Chromebook. Once these choices are made, you will be free to use your new notebook to work, study and play. And surprise: all the data linked to your Google account will already be there, ready to wait for you in Gmail, Drive and all the other “big G” applications and services!
Explore Chrome OS
Once the initial configuration is completed, you immediately find yourself in front of the Chrome OS work environment, which is very simple and intuitive. In addition, as many Acer Chromebooks have a touch-screen , it is also designed to be “touch-friendly”.
At the bottom there is the app bar , on the left side of which stands the Search button (the one in the shape of a circle) which allows you to search for applications, documents, settings and information online. In the center of the same bar there are the icons of the most used and running apps , while on the right there are the icons of the locked files (i.e. of the files that you want to keep at hand) and the notifications menu with time, battery status and network icon.
If you tap on the notifications menu , recent notifications are displayed and you access a menu full of interesting functions, through which you can activate or deactivate Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and notifications, access settings, disconnect from the work session, adjust volume, brightness and much more.
By pressing the Search button (the virtual one on the screen or the physical one on the keyboard) you can access the Chrome OS search bar, which allows you to find applications, files and information online quickly. Below it there are links to some of the most used apps , while at the top there is an arrow that, when pressed, allows you to browse the complete list of applications installed on the Chromebook.
On Chrome , Web Store and Play Store, it is useless to dwell too much, as you should already know them very well: the first is the famous Google browser also available on Windows, macOS, Linux and mobile devices, in which you will automatically find your data navigation, passwords and extensions (if you have synchronized the aforementioned data with your Google account); the Web Store allows you to access the most useful and interesting Web applications (including Microsoft Office Web apps ); the Play StoreFinally, it is the store of apps for Android, which can be installed on Chrome OS just like on smartphones and tablets: just search for them, select them and press the Install button to have them ready for use within a few seconds.
As for file management, if you are used to using the Windows File Explorer (or even the macOS Finder), you will have no difficulty in familiarizing yourself with File , the file manager of Chrome OS (whose icon in the shape of a blue folder stands in the center of the app bar ). By starting it, you will in fact notice a side menu with links to the most used folders – including that of Google Drive – and to the devices connected to the Chromebook; then a search bar at the top right and buttons that allow you to sort the files in various ways. To access the application menu you can instead press on the three vertical dots.
Right- clicking on an item will open the context menu with options to copy, rename, delete and otherwise interact with the selected item. In short, everything as “usual”.
The strong integration with Google Drive ensures that your files are always safe and accessible from all devices connected to your Google account. To synchronize a file with Google Drive, as easily understood, you just need to copy and paste it in one of the folders associated with the service.
And when you need to work with multiple folders, documents and / or Web pages at a time, you can easily organize your work in various Virtual desks , i.e. various virtual desks in which to divide the various open windows. To take advantage of this very useful function, just press the relevant key on the keyboard (the rectangle with the three horizontal lines).
Once this is done, through the previews at the top, you can create and manage your Virtual desks. To move a window from one desk to another, just drag it with the mouse from the current space to the destination.
How do you say? Do you share the use of your current notebook with other people and would you like to know if Chrome OS also allows you to configure more users ? Yes, of course. Just press on the Add person item on the login screen and, in a few seconds, you can configure a new user profile, with apps, settings and data separate from the others. Subsequently it will be possible to switch at any time from one account to another (by entering, of course, the respective login credentials).
Similarly you can add to Chrome OS also a child’s account and protect it with the parental control system Family Link , whose preferences are accessible from the menu Account of the settings of Chrome OS.
Speaking of which, Chrome OS’s Settings are super-intuitive too. To access it, all you have to do is press the gear icon in the app menu and use the left sidebar of the window that opens to quickly adjust the preferences related to Network , Bluetooth , Connected devices , Account , Device , Personalization , Search and Assistant , Security and Privacy and App .
Speaking of privacy and security, if you are worried about viruses and malware, know that you will not have to worry about installing any software dedicated to protecting the operating system, as Chrome OS already includes effective antivirus protection that keeps data and system safe from all the threats present on the Net. To contribute to security there are the automatic updates of the operating system , which are downloaded and installed whenever there is a need (with special notifications that warn the user of the thing) to keep everything safe and performing over time.
In short, as you can see, it’s all very intuitive. In any case, if you want more information on how to get started with Chrome OS I suggest you look for the Explore application in the app menu: the latter offers a complete overview of the main features of the operating system and invites the user to take various operations to quickly acclimate to the new work environment.
Transfer data and applications from Windows to Chrome OS
By logging into Chrome OS with your Google account, you will immediately find your Gmail contacts and messages, Google Drive files (if you forgot to upload some to your account, find out how to do it by reading my dedicated tutorial ) and everything related to it. the services and apps of “big G”, but you probably want to know if there is a way to transfer other data and applications from Windows . Well, even in this case the answer is affirmative.
If, for example, on Windows you have activated data synchronization on OneDrive (Microsoft’s cloud storage service), you can install the OneDrive app from the Play Store and log in with your Microsoft account to find all your documents immediately. on Chrome OS. The same is also true if you use Dropbox or other cloud services. Furthermore, by opening the Chrome OS File app , pressing the ⋮ button located at the top right and going to Install new service, you can install a cloud service among those supported directly in the operating system’s file manager and access your files from the latter. Convenient, right?
And what about the files you have stored on your Windows PC drive or share on the local network with a NAS ? No problem. Chromebooks have many ports that allow you to seamlessly use USB sticks and portable hard drives and quickly transfer files to and from them. You can, therefore, copy your files from Windows and bring them to your Chromebook with a simple copy and paste. As for the local network , however, you can connect to any SMB server by opening the file manager File , ⋮ pressing the button located at the top right and going to Add New Service> SMB shares .
As for the applications , just open the Play Store and search within it for the apps of all the main video conferencing and communication platforms (eg Google Meet , Teams , Skype , Telegram etc.), photo editing apps such as Photoshop Express and Snapseed , video editors like InShot and PowerDirector , music streaming apps like Spotify and YouTube Music, and the list could go on and on. Just select an app, hit the Install button and that’s it.
Do not forget, then, the many Web applications which you can access from Chrome OS and which by now have very little to envy to their offline counterparts: just think of the Google Drive productivity suite , Gmail , the online versions of Microsoft Office applications. , such as Word Online , Excel Online or PowerPoint Online , or to online photo editing applications such as Photopea .
As for video games , if you are a “pro player” it is clear that you will not be able to use the Chromebook as the main computer for your online matches, but on the Play Store you will find many interesting titles, such as Roblox and Call of Duty Mobile . Furthermore, thanks to cloud based services such as NVIDIA GeForce Now and Google Stadia , if you have a good Internet connection, you will also be able to access the latest generation titles with top-of-the-range PC performance.
In short, there is only the embarrassment of choice, with the advantage of being able to operate more quickly than “traditional” programs (as part of the processing takes place on the cloud) and not to fill the computer disk. For more details, I invite you to consult this page containing a series of apps recommended directly by Google.
Connect external devices to the Chromebook
You love working while listening to music on your Bluetooth headphones Are you afraid that your printer wo n’t work with an Acer Chromebook or that you can’t connect your smartphone to your computer?
Your concern is more than legitimate, but you need to know that Chromebooks are compatible with a growing array of external peripherals, including printers, adapters, docking stations, drawing tablets, burners, mice, keyboards, game controllers, headsets, and webcams. . To find a product that is officially certified to work with Chromebook, you can look for the Works with Chromebook badge . Read more here .
The devices in question work without any need for drivers or configuration: usually just plug them into the appropriate port on your computer and they are recognized immediately. An example is that of the One by Wacom tablet , which I told you about in a dedicated review.
No problem, then, with regards to Android smartphones and tablets : Chromebooks and Android devices communicate easily and, with the Phone Hub included in the operating system, you can manage phone settings and reply to messages directly from Chrome OS. You can also unlock your Chromebook with your smartphone, connect to the hotspot it generates, and more.
The same goes for SD cards , USB sticks , external hard drives and SSDs formatted with all the most popular file systems: they can be conveniently connected to the Chromebook and used to transfer data, even at very high speeds (compatibly with the capabilities of the devices used. ).
Many Chromebooks also have Bluetooth support : you can therefore use the latter to connect headphones, speakers, mice, keyboards and other accessories that use this communication system: just select the time , at the bottom right of Chrome OS, then the Bluetooth item and then the name of the device to be connected . Easier than that ?!
Excellent news also for what concerns the external screens : thanks to the Chromecast support you can cast the tabs of your Chrome browser on a TV with Chromecast support (or connected to a Chromecast device), while with the HDMI port included in many models of Chromebooks can physically connect the device to monitors, TVs, and projectors. In short, even from this point of view absolutely nothing is lost from the transition from Windows to Chrome OS.
Use Chrome OS offline
Many users about to switch from Windows to Chrome OS are afraid that Google’s operating system will not work in offline mode and, therefore, make the computer of little use in all those situations where there is no Internet connection available. Well, that’s not the case at all.
While giving the best of itself connected to the large network (as well as Windows, for that matter), Chrome OS allows you to do many things offline . First of all, you can normally use all the apps for Android that do not require an Internet connection to work (just like it would happen on a smartphone or tablet). Furthermore, you can easily configure both Gmail and Google Drive to work without an Internet connection.
For Gmail , for example, just access the Settings from Chrome and activate the offline mail function by checking the appropriate box and then adjusting the related preferences on the screen. For Google Drive, just check the box Offline in the settings of the service , and to make available offline a previously created document, you must select it in the file manager File and activate the function available offline (top).
Also, I point out that it is possible to create and consult notes in Google Keep and access all local content saved on your computer or in streaming apps such as YouTube Music (if the subscription that allows offline download of content is active). For all the details, I refer you to the official Google support .
For more information
Has what you just learned from reading this tutorial has increased your curiosity about Chrome OS and Acer Chromebooks and would you like to know even more? Then let me give you some links that will surely be useful to you.
First of all, I suggest you visit the official website of Chrome OS , where you can find a complete overview of the features of this operating system and, above all, an interesting page with the answers to the most frequently asked questions of those who are preparing to switch to a Chromebook. On the Acer site , however, by selecting the item relating to Chromebooks you can browse all the available models.
Finally, for the purchase of Acer Chromebooks, you can contact Amazon , where there is a page dedicated to the laptops in question with lots of useful information on Chrome OS and the main features that the Google operating system offers to students, teachers, workers and other users interested in switching to this platform.