Supporting New Chromebook Users

Supporting New Chromebook Users

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  1. Learners will be able to explain how to set up, maintain, and navigate a Chromebook.
  2. Learners will be able to address their existing needs with a Chromebook and choose the appropriate Google Application for a task.
  3. Learners will be able to troubleshoot common Chromebook problems and find web monitoring solutions.

Chromebooks are useful, inexpensive, and flexible tools for workplaces and schools, though their features may not be exactly what a new user would expect. This lesson will help you get acquainted with some of the quirks of the Chromebook design and prepare others to make the most of the technology at their fingertips.

Computer Layout

The first things a Chromebook user will need to find are the Charging Port and Power Button. Most Chromebook Charging Ports are on the left side of the computer near the screen. Users should make sure that the Chromebook has power before turning it on. Many Chromebooks have a small light next to the charging port. An orange light means charging is in progress. A green or white light means the computer is fully charged.

Press the Power Button to start the computer. This button will likely be on the keyboard or the side of the laptop.

While some laptops should not be left charging when the battery is full, Chromebooks are safe to leave charging overnight or even for a few days. Charging the Chromebook at the end of every use will leave it ready to go the next time a user needs it.

Chromebook keyboards have buttons that may be unfamiliar to new users. You can use the link below to explore the purpose of these buttons.

Those very young or very new to computers may need some help with basic computer navigation, such as demonstrating the following:

  • Chromebooks use trackpads to move the mouse pointer around the screen.
  • A finger swipe on the trackpad moves the mouse.
  • A two-finger swipe on the trackpad scrolls up or down the page. Clicking the trackpad with two fingers (“right-clicking”) brings up extra options.

Basic Upkeep

It is essential to make sure users know that to keep Chromebooks in the best possible condition, they must protect them from liquid spills and crumbs. In addition, extreme heat can damage the Chromebook’s battery, so Chromebooks should be stored away from direct sunlight and in air-conditioned spaces when possible. Proper upkeep can prolong the life cycle of any computer, so establish ground rules early!

Getting Started

While the Chromebook offers a “Guest Mode” for users without Google Accounts and for those borrowing another user’s Chromebook, Guest Mode has a few key limitations:

  • Guest Users cannot access applications beyond Chrome.
  • Guest Users cannot access any saved data from a user account, and cannot save any of their own data.
  • The browsing history of a Guest User is not saved to the device, which can make it more difficult to monitor users’ internet history.
  • Guest Mode will ask for a locked WiFi connection’s password every time it is used, unless the main user enters the Network settings and selects “Allow other users of the device to use this network.”

If you want to disable Guest browsing, click the “Status Tray” in the bottom right corner of the screen to pull up a toolbar. Select the gear icon to access settings, then under "Security and Privacy" select "Manage Other Users." You will see the screen below. Click the top button to disable or enable Guest browsing access.

Guest browsing settings menu captured on a Chromebook.

To go beyond “Guest User” access, Chromebook users will need a Google Account to sign into a Chromebook. Click “Add Person” to access a Google Account. If a user already has a Google Account, they should enter their username and password. A user without a Google Account will need to create an account, requiring their full name, Username, and Password. For more information on setting up a new Chromebook or Google Account, watch the video below.

Once Chromebook users have set up their accounts, they will need to familiarize themselves with the App Launcher icon seen below: Clicking the App Launcher icon on the home screen will show the available applications.

When logged into Google Chrome, there is another icon for the App Launcher, also pictured below, to access applications in the browser.

App Launcher Icons on the Chromebook Home Screen and Chrome Browser

Getting to Know Google Apps

Chromebooks are primarily designed to use Google Apps. With this in mind, new users will need clear explanations of the apps available and their uses to get started. The graphic below will help clarify the purpose of several key apps on a Chromebook.

Icons and Descriptions of Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drive, Chrome, Gmail, Meet, Files, and Web Store

Why Google Apps?

As you and your organization get used to Chromebooks, it’s a good idea to think about how you can use Google Apps to your advantage. Here are a few benefits to consider:

  1. Collaboration: Because Docs, Slides, and Sheets are cloud-based applications, it’s easy for multiple users to share files, leave comments and suggestions, and work on the same files at the same time. This is a great way to pool ideas and delegate work.
  2. Compatibility: Google Apps work well together. For example, an invitation to a virtual meeting in Google Meet on your Gmail account can sync up with your Google Calendar, set reminders, RSVP, and prepare the meeting link all at once. Google Apps can also convert files of other formats into Google files, and vice versa.
  3. Easy Access: Work done in Google Apps travels easily. When files are stored in Google Drive, they can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection.


What are you doing in your organization already that could be completed or improved upon with Google Apps? Which application or applications would you use?


Like any computer, Chromebooks can present problems to their users. A few simple guidelines, however, can help manage common issues.

Internet Connection Problems

If a Chromebook encounters problems connecting to the Internet, click the “Status Tray” in the bottom right corner of the screen to pull up a toolbar. Click the gear icon to access settings and “Network” to view your internet connection setting in the toolbar. Make sure that the computer is connected to the appropriate network.

Password Safety/Resetting a Forgotten Password

To access all of a Chromebook’s features, users need a Google Account and password. Users should choose passwords that they do not use for other accounts and be careful to keep their passwords written down in a safe place that they can check if they forget. This will prevent lockouts and keep accounts safe from other users.

Users with forgotten passwords will need to use another device to navigate to “,” enter their username, and click “Forgot Password?” Following the instructions on that page will allow users to reset their passwords both for their account and the Chromebook.

Ending Stopped Programs

If an application freezes on a Chromebook, users can press “Shift” and “Esc” (similar to “Ctrl”, “Alt”, and “Del” on Windows) to open the Task Manager. Users can click the frozen program in the Task Manager and select “Force Quit” to shut down the program. To support users, you may wish to share the image below.

When encountering a frozen program, start by holding

Recovery Mode

If the Chromebook is encountering serious problems, the message “Chrome OS is missing or damaged" may appear. Try resetting the computer, as this may resolve the problem. If the message reappears after a reset, it is time to restore the Chrome OS with Recovery Mode. Hold down Escape (“Esc”) and Refresh (“F3/”). Then, press the Power Button. Release the Power Button and select “Recover using Internet” if that option is available, or “Traditional Recovery” if it is not.

Factory Reset

If the Chromebook is encountering consistent problems, it may be time to Factory Reset the computer. NOTE: This will erase all files stored on the computer.

If you don’t feel comfortable performing a factory reset, consider checking in with your organization for IT support, or reaching out to Google for assistance.

Automatic Updates

The best way to prevent problems is to make sure a Chromebook is downloading the most recent updates available. Chromebooks are enabled with “Automatic Updates” to keep the computer secure and maintain access to the latest features. Google recommends that you keep Automatic Updates enabled as long as the device is used.

More Help

Click the Status Tray in the Bottom Right Corner. Click the Question Mark icon to search the Get Help application for solutions to issues not covered in this lesson.

Image: A classroom full of computers, one of which has a virus.

Internet Safety and Monitoring Resources

While Chromebooks can be valuable tools for working and learning, misuse remains a serious concern. It’s essential to remind Chromebook users that navigating to unreliable sites or downloading harmful software can damage the computer or risk their privacy. They should use their best judgment online. If you oversee the use of Chromebooks for members of your organization, particularly if you are an educator working with minors, it is wise to consider taking extra steps, like installing monitoring software, to supervise users and limit access to dangerous material.

With Google Workspace, you can set up an Admin account to track the web browsing history (seeing a list of the websites that users have visited) and enable/disable apps and websites for your Chromebooks (choosing what is allowed and blocked).

In addition to tracking browser history and moderating specific websites and applications, Google offers SafeSearch, a feature designed to filter out explicit or violent results in a Google search. However, it can’t filter other search engines or direct links to websites. This is an optional feature, but you can enable and lock SafeSearch with your Admin account to help prevent users from accessing inappropriate content through searches.
If you are an educator, Bark for Schools is a free platform that offers web filtering and content monitoring (checking Google Workspace) to flag threats, bullying, and potential mental health issues on school devices.

If your organization does not have Google Workspace, other options are available. Free extensions like BlockSite can be added in the Chrome Web Store to disable websites and block security risks. Consult your organization to see if they have a list of extensions approved for use.


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