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These 8 Chromebook features will help boost your productivity

Get more from your Chromebook with these tools.

Acer Chromebook Spin 713 2021

Acer's Chromebook Spin 713 is one of the best Chromebooks available in 2021.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Google's Chrome OS turned 10 years old this year and a lot has changed. This year alone, Google has added several features to help increase your productivity, whether you're working or learning from home, back in the office or somewhere in between. Android users get extra benefits to make it easier to jump between your Chromebook and Android phone and share your Wi-Fi connection. 

Also read: Google developing its own Arm-based processors for Chromebooks, report says

if you were only introduced to the world of Chromebooks in the past year or two, you're not alone. Chromebook shipments skyrocketed in 2020 due to the sharp increase in remote workers and students caused by the pandemic. That didn't slow down in 2021, either, according to the research firm Canalys. 

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Phone Hub

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Google

Android users can access their phones from Chrome's Shelf. The hub lets you see the last couple of tabs you viewed on your phone, see its battery level and wireless connection strength and get notifications from chat apps. It can also be used to locate your phone by setting off its ringtone, and it can silence your phone entirely. 

Wi-Fi Sync

Wi-Fi Sync is an existing Chrome OS feature that lets you share your network settings between devices. It's been enhanced to work with more devices. This means if your phone connects to a safe Wi-Fi network, your phone can share the network password with your Chromebook so you're ready to work when you lift the lid.  

Screen Capture 

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Josh Goldman/CNET

From the Quick Settings on Chrome's Shelf, you can now select Capture. The tool not only lets you take screenshots but can be used to capture screen recordings as well. The tool will let you capture a window, a crop of a specific area of your screen or the entire screen.

Tote 

chrome-os-tote
Josh Goldman/CNET

Google added a holding spot on the Shelf called Tote. It's where you'll find your most recent screenshots. But you'll also be able to see downloads without having to launch the file browser. You can pin files to Tote, too, which means you can keep an important document readily open without searching for it. 

Clipboard 

Alongside the new Tote feature is an enhanced Clipboard. It's now able to store the last five things you saved to it. To view what's available, simply press the Everything button plus V. 

Desks 

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Josh Goldman/CNET

Desks launched last year and lets you create separate workspaces for different projects you're working on. Google updated it to add a new right-click option to send an open window to a different Desk than the one it's in, or all of your Desks if necessary. A four-finger swipe across your touchpad will let you switch between Desks, too. 

Also read: How to turn on Caps Lock on a Chromebook

Quick Answers 

Need to convert a measurement from imperial to metric or need the definition of a word you're reading? Just highlight whatever it is and right-click on it and you'll be given a definition, conversion or translation along with your other options. This can be toggled on and off in the settings menu under Related Info. 

Those are the major updates, but they're joined by a handful of smaller tool tweaks. The accessibility feature Select-to-Speak, for example, now has controls to speed up, slow down and pause. You can now pin media controls for YouTube Music and Spotify to the shelf. And for those with students on Chromebooks, you're now able to add school accounts, as well as add a PIN, to make it easier for your kids to sign into their accounts.

Also read: Best Chromebook 2021: 8 best Chromebooks starting under $300

Nearby Share

Nearby Share is the Android version of Apple's AirDrop. It lets you and your contacts quickly share photos, files, links and more directly to another Android device or a Chromebook. Simply search the Settings on your Chromebook for Nearby Share and you can toggle the feature on and off. You'll have to turn on Nearby Share on the sending/receiving device, as well.

To use it, once you've turned it on, just pick what you want to send from your device, tap the Share icon (it's the one with three dots with one dot joined to the other two by single lines) and Nearby Share should appear as an option. Tap Nearby Share and it will search for available devices which should include your Chromebook. Select it, and you'll get a notification on your Chromebook to accept or reject.