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Grow Your Business Technology

How to Switch From a PC to a Chromebook

image for Savusia Konstantin  / Getty Images
Savusia Konstantin / Getty Images
  • Switching from one operating system to another requires you to learn how to navigate different interfaces.
  • Once you move your files, using a Chromebook is rather easy. The interface is simple, and it's a breeze to stream apps from the cloud.
  • Following a few steps will help you master using a Chromebook in no time.

Chromebooks are known for being inexpensive and lasting a long time on a charge. But switching to a Chromebook from a Windows PC doesn't happen without some effort. The cloud-based notebooks are lean and fast, they rely almost entirely on the browser, and you can't use them for non-Android games. However, models such as the Google Pixelbook 2 are nimble enough to help you stay super productive.

There is a rather easy solution for transferring your files from a Windows PC to a Chromebook. First, make sure you have a Google Drive account. This platform is accessible from both Windows and Chrome OS, so your files will be safe there. Another great part about saving your files in Google Drive is that they will sync automatically; you do not have to manually save your files in both systems if you use Google Drive.

Plus, if you ever accidentally delete anything from Google Drive, you can easily recover the file.

Google Docs and Gmail are just the start. Here's how to get up to speed quickly with a new Chromebook.

Here's the best tip for anyone using a Chromebook: Before switching from a PC, move to the cloud. Sign up for a cloud storage service such as Dropbox or Google Drive, and copy your files. Start using Gmail instead of Outlook. Skip the local storage altogether. Stop using desktop apps.

The keyboard on a Chromebook is quite different, and it will throw you off at first. There are no function keys like F1 through F12 – who needs them? There's no Print Screen button, either. Instead, on a model like the Google Pixelbook 2, there are keys for adjusting brightness and volume. Fortunately, copy-paste works the same as on a Windows PC (Ctrl C to copy, Ctrl V to paste).

Because there are no function keys, there is no Print Screen button to take a screenshot. On a Chromebook, you typically press Ctrl, then the Switch Windows button (which looks like a box with two lines next to it) to take a screenshot.

You won't need to right-click as much. Windows uses the right-mouse button in apps. If you do want to access the Save As command or Print function, use Alt; then click for right-clicking.

Do you want to print from a Chromebook? It's possible, but very different. Chromebooks use Google Print, a cloud-based system for printing. First, you need a printer that supports Google Print, which sends all docs to the cloud first. Then, you print from the Chromebook, to the cloud, to the printer.

Google lets you install and use Android apps on Chromebooks, but Android apps tend to be clunky, crash often and don't always load. Nor do they work on older Chromebooks. If you still want to try them, read these tips from Google. Just be ready for some trouble.

Microsoft has added Office apps to the Google Play store for Chromebooks. The apps are Android versions of Office, and they include the same features you'd find on an Android tablet running Office. However, if you're using a device larger than 10.1 inches, you need an Office 365 subscription to create, edit or print.

There are plenty of great Chromebook-compatible apps that can replace your Windows apps. Google alternatives to the programs in the Microsoft Office suite include Google Sheets (Excel), Google Slides (PowerPoint) and Google Docs (Word). For your media player, switch to Google Play. Microsoft Outlook is great, but Google Calendar and Gmail are great alternatives to use on a Chromebook.

Besides, on Chromebooks, your apps do not have to be constantly updated or renewed as they do on Windows. This is because you are essentially streaming all of the apps from the cloud. This will ultimately make your work go more smoothly, since you will not have to check for updates often or be interrupted by them.

Chromebooks have some limitations. Android apps are clunky. In most cases, you have to print from the cloud. And the keyboard has no function keys. What good is a Chromebook, then? Well, it's amazing for browsing, and that's really valuable for most people. For email, writing and research, Chromebooks are fast and reliable.

Business News Daily Editor

Business News Daily was founded in 2010 as a resource for small business owners at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Our site is focused exclusively on giving small business advice, tutorials and insider insights. Business News Daily is owned by Business.com.