Yesterday, Google announced that a Morse Code keyboard was coming to the Gboard app for iOS while improvements to the keyboard were made to the Android version. The idea behind the keyboard came from Tania Finlayson, a developer who also has cerebral palsy. The disease essentially left her with the ability to only answer yes or no questions which is why she worked with Google to develop the keyboard. When Tania learned Morse in her youth, it greatly expanded her vocabulary and ability to communicate. You can read more about her and her development efforts in the blog post from yesterday.
After the post was made by Google, I had a few friends and some of you readers email me asking a pretty simple question: “How do I turn on the Morse Code keyboard in Gboard?” It’s a fair question because it isn’t exactly intuitive and, to be honest, took me a few minutes on how to remember how to do this with any keyboard, let alone the Morse Code one. In this How To, I’ll show you how to enable it so you have a reference for it.
One of the challenges of Chrome OS is when it comes to partitioned USB drives. Let me paint the scenario for you. Let’s say you have a 64GB USB drive that you were using as your Chrome OS Recovery drive for your Chromebook (I highly recommend you create one if you haven’t already). Now let’s say that you pick up a small 16GB drive for a few bucks and decide you want to have that as your recovery drive instead as it is a more efficient use of the drive space. After all, a Chrome OS recovery drive only needs about 4GB of storage.
You create your new recovery drive and put it in a safe place. Now you plug in your old recovery drive and open it up in the Files app. There you will see the USB drive has two partitions: OEM and USB Drive.
The problem is that if you reformat the USB Drive partition or the OEM partition, you will still have a partitioned drive. In other words, just like in Windows or MacOS, reformatting doesn’t get rid of a partition. You have to completely wipe the drive of data and partitions to get it back to one partition.
Fortunately, within Chrome OS, there is a quick and easy way to do this using the Chrome OS Recovery app itself. In this How To, I will walk you through the quick process to take that multi-partition USB drive and reset it to one partition that is the size of the USB drive itself.
Regardless of which Operating System you use, the majority of power users are always looking for ways to gain efficiency to their day-to-day activities. Chrome OS users are no different. As one who uses a Google Pixelbook for my daily driver, any time I can find a shortcut that makes things faster for me, I leverage it as much as I can.
The challenge with Chrome OS is not that these shortcuts are not there. It is that the platform is still relatively new in the grand scheme of things and they are simply not well known. Consider that Chrome OS is just shy of being 7 years old while Windows in some shape or form has been around for 33 years. Even MacOS has been around for 17 years now. The benefit of having that much time in development is all the little tricks to get to things or improve efficiency are documented. Chrome OS? Not so much.
That’s the point of this article. I’m going to outline three trackpad tricks you have in Chrome OS that will hopefully make you a little bit more efficient. All three of these tips are accessed by using three fingers on the trackpad and performing an action.
As most readers will know, Chromebooks generally come with a small amount of built-in storage. The assumption, of course, is that you will be leveraging Google Drive for the bulk of your storage needs as well as USB drives that you attached to your Chromebook. Chrome OS makes these solutions easy to access all from within the Files app.
But how much storage do you have left in your Google Drive account or on that USB drive you’ve plugged in? Fortunately it is very easy to find out this information right from within the Files app in Chrome OS. In this How To, I’ll show you how to quickly see the storage available on any drive on your Chromebook.
As a general rule, for most Chromebook users, the default apps to open particular file types will do the job. But sometimes you install an app, be it a Chrome OS web app or an Android app, and it takes over the behavior and becomes the default app for that file type. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s not so good.
Fortunately changing the default app to a new app for a file type is pretty easy in Chrome OS. The trick is finding it because it is not in Settings like you would find in your Android phone. In this How To, I’ll show you where you need to go in the Files app on your Chromebook to change the default apps.
One of the great features of the Apple Watch is the Activity app. It is an app that keeps track of your movement calories, your exercise and the standing you do each hour in one easy-to-use app. It is the measurement of these activities that allow you to complete the now well known rings each day.
When it comes to calorie targets, it is the one metric that users can adjust. The standing once per hour and 30 minutes of exercise, at least for now, are fixed and can’t be adjusted. The calorie one however is probably the more important one anyway. Depending on your lifestyle and even your profession, you may want to set your calorie burn goal higher than the minimum 300 calories target. You’ll know this is the case if you are consistently going over your current target by two or three times in a day. One day is a one-off but consistently blowing through that target means it needs to be adjusted up.
In this How To I’ll show you a quick way that you can adjust your calorie target in the middle of a day or week. Once you adjust it, it will be your goal going forward until you adjust it again and it will be reflected in your target measurements for the week you are in.
While Chrome OS is very efficient at managing memory and processes, it, like everyone Operating System, needs to be restarted from time-to-time. For Chromebook users that has meant that you have to power down your device completely then fire things back up. Doing so empties cached items in memory and kills off PIDs (Process Identifiers) so things run smoothly again.
But there are times when you are in the middle of working on things where a quick restart button would be handy. Natively, there is not such a button in Chrome OS but in this How To, I’ll show you how you can quickly create one and have it in your browser favorites bar for quick access.
One of the best features of the Google Pixelbook is the built-in and dedicated keyboard key for Google Assistant. As I put in my review of the Pixelbook, the Google Assistant integration works great and it has proven to be a far more handy feature than I expected it to be when I first got the Chromebook.
By default, the Assistant keyboard button opens up with the default interaction as the keyboard. In other words, typing your request to Assistant. Google does this because it has also designed the Pixelbook to respond to “Hey, Google” (assuming you have enabled it). But sometimes, having the keyboard key configured to accept voice commands can be handy. Think of it as being similar to when you tap and hold the Home button down on your Android phone.
In this How To, I’ll show you how you can configure the Assistant keyboard key to open up and listen for your voice commands instead of typed inputs.