How To Add Taskbar Shortcuts on a Chromebook

If you’re new to Chromebook, you may think it more limited than Windows or Mac but you would be mistaken. Sure out of the box there isn’t much going on but with some customizations and a few well-chosen apps you can turn your Chromebook into something that punches way above its weight. Today we are looking at adding shortcuts and some general customizations to enhance your Chromebook experience.

How To Add Taskbar Shortcuts on a Chromebook

The Taskbar in Chrome OS is called the Shelf. It is a quick launcher like that in MacOS that allows you to quickly launch your favorite programs with a single click. Like that on a Mac, you can add or remove shortcuts in that launcher so it works how you want it to. This is one of the first customizations a new Chromebook user makes. Once you have loaded some apps onto your machine, you can then add shortcuts to those apps on your shelf.

Add taskbar shortcuts on your Chromebook

If you want to add shelf shortcuts to your Chromebook, it is about as easy as it can be. I will cover adding apps in a minute but as the title of this tutorial is adding shortcuts, I will cover that first. If you’re setting up your Chromebook for the first time, any app you install will automatically add itself to your shelf. Otherwise do this:

  1. Find the app you want to add to your shelf.
  2. Right click the app and select Pin to shelf.
  3. Repeat for every app you want to add.

Once done, a shortcut to that app will appear wherever you have your shelf. You can now single click the icon to launch that program.

You can also add custom shortcuts to the shelf such as web bookmarks. This can be useful if you want to check scores or watch a twitch stream with a single click.

  1. Open Chrome and navigate to the web page you want to use as a shortcut.
  2. Select the three dot menu icon and then More Tools.
  3. Select Add to shelf…

A shortcut to that page will now appear on your shelf.

Reposition the shelf in Chrome OS

By default, your shelf will appear at the bottom of the screen and this will likely be fine for most Chromebook users. However, if you want to change this so it appears on the side, you can.

  1. Right click the Chromebook desktop and select Shelf position.
  2. Select Left, Bottom or Right from the selection.

Once selected, the shelf will move immediately to your chosen position. If you want to change it back, just repeat the above to reposition it again.

Add apps to your Chromebook

The Chromebook is pretty barebones when you first unbox it but you can quickly add apps. Once you have connected to the internet it’s just a matter of downloading and installing. There is one challenge though. Older Chromebooks aren’t fully compatible with the current range of Google apps. Only newer Chromebook work without a little fettling.

If you have a new Chromebook, do this to add new apps:

  1. Select your account photo in the status tray of your Chromebook.
  2. Select Settings and Google Play Store.
  3. Select Enable Google Play Store on your Chromebook if you see the option. You may need to install the Store. Not all Chromebooks will need to do this.
  4. Select an app from the Google Play Store as you would on a phone and install it.

If you have an older Chromebook, all is not lost. You can access the Beta Channel for Google Play Store. It isn’t as stable as that for newer devices but it does work. Google is your friend there as I have no experience with the Beta Channel.

Change the desktop wallpaper on a Chromebook

Once you have a few apps and have configured your shelf, how about changing the default wallpaper? The default is fine but nothing makes a computer yours like a personal wallpaper choice. Get ahold of some good quality HD images and then:

  1. Right click on the desktop and select Set wallpaper.
  2. Navigate the new window and select an included wallpaper or Custom to your own image.
  3. Select your image and set it as the wallpaper.

Chrome OS has an image editor to help you resize your image if necessary, otherwise the image you select will be fitted to the screen size.

Change the desktop theme on a Chromebook

Finally, now you have a desktop wallpaper, how about changing the theme? There aren’t that many good ones around but there are some. You change the theme much like you would in Chrome on any device.

  1. Select your account photo in the status tray of your Chromebook.
  2. Select Settings and Browser themes.
  3. Use the Chrome Web Store to find a theme you like. It will only show those compatible with your device.
  4. Select Add to Chrome when you see one you like. It will be applied immediately.

Adding shortcuts and general customizations are very straightforward on a Chromebook. Got any other customization tips to share? Tell us about them below if you do!

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