Three ways to make a Chromebook feel more like a PC

Don't want to feel like you're stuck inside a browser when using a Chromebook? Give these tips a try.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

The truth is, for most of us, using a Chromebook already feels a lot like using a PC or Mac, depending on how much time you typically spend using Chrome when on a "real" computer.

Yet we don't exclusively spend our online lives in a browser window. We often have multiple windows open, all of varying sizes, with apps pinned to docks. These customizations are what make our computers feel like, well, computers.

With Google's Chrome OS you can decide which sites or apps will open in standalone windows (or clumped together in a series of browser tabs), and which apps are pinned to the Taskbar, or as it's called in Chrome OS, the "shelf."

Here are some tips on how to make your Chrome OS experience feel more like that of a Mac or PC.


A big part of the OS X experience is touchpad gestures. The two-, three-, or four-finger gestures help speed up navigation throughout the operating system. Chrome OS has a few gestures built in as well. When using Chrome, you can switch between open tabs (pinned or not) by using a three-finger swipe. As you move in either direction a new tab will become active. A three- or four-finger swipe up on the touchpad will reveal any currently open windows, making it possible to quickly switch between apps with little effort.

Manage the Shelf

The App Launcher Shelf is where you'll find shortcuts to any apps or services currently running. The default position for the shelf is along the bottom of your screen. By right-clicking on the shelf you can then move it to the left or right side of your screen, as well as set it to auto-hide when not in use. You can also right-click on an app's icon and set it to remain on the shelf, providing easy access to the app or service in the future.

Open as...

Chrome OS allows you to dictate the behavior of how some sites and services open. Take for example Gmail. You can go to the Gmail website using the Chrome browser, or you can select the Gmail icon from the app launcher to access the same site. By right-clicking on the app icon you can choose to have Gmail opened as a pinned or regular tab in Chrome, as a separate window, or as a maximized window. Each approach has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

There are other ways to get more out of a Chrome OS device, including using certain aspects and features of it without an Internet connection. But we'll save that topic for another day (real soon). What have you done to make your Chromebook feel more like a PC or Mac? Share with us in the comments below.

For more Chromebook how-to content, be sure to check out this page dedicated to all things Chrome OS.