Some weeks, Chrome OS will get so many new options, it looks like we’re virtually drowning in prospects. And man alive, is that ever a pleasant sensation (even with the metaphorical lack of oxygen).
One a part of the Chrome OS expertise that hasn’t modified a lot in recent times, although, is the desktop atmosphere — y’know, the Chromebook’s exceptionally humble house display. Positive, the taskbar space (a.okay.a. the Chrome OS shelf) has realized a number of new tips over time, however the desktop itself has remained vexingly clean and free from superior features ever since its inception.
That is a stark distinction to Android, the place the house display is an all-purpose panel for each app shortcuts and interactive widgets. Widgets particularly have the potential to make a lot essential information available, they usually’d be each bit as useful within the even extra productivity-oriented Chrome OS setup.
However regardless of all my wishing and summoning of magic virtual-genie spirits, Google has but to grant us the flexibility to position widgets on a Chromebook’s desktop. (It is astonishing, I do know. I am beginning to surprise if my sorcery powers aren’t as potent as I have been led to imagine.) You possibly can set up Android apps on a Chromebook, in fact, however widgets? Nope. Fuhgeddaboutit. Not gonna occur, Horatio.
Or so you’ll suppose. Google could not formally help Android widgets on Chrome OS as of now, however with just a little inventive tinkering, you possibly can construct your self a customized panel crammed with any widgets you need after which make ’em all out there from wherever in your Chromebook system. It is a customized Chrome OS productiveness dashboard, basically, and it will take you all of 4 minutes to arrange.
Right here, look — here is a Chrome OS widget panel I plopped collectively in a matter of moments simply now, with widgets exhibiting my Gmail inbox, a Google Calendar month-to-month view, a Todoist activity listing, and a Google Hold notes assortment:
When you get this factor goin’, my goodness, you are gonna be zippin’ round and takin’ care of enterprise like, effectively, no person’s enterprise. So crack these phalanges, seize your self a fistful of crackers, and prepare: It is time to deal with your self to at least one heck of a Chromebook improve.
The Chrome OS widget secret
First issues first, to tug this feat off, you will must snag the key ingredient in our zesty and suspiciously greasy geek-stew recipe. It is an appetizing app known as Taskbar, and whereas it is primarily designed for Android, it really works deliciously effectively on the Chromebook facet of issues. So go get it — both by way of the devoted Play Retailer app in your Chromebook or from the Play Retailer in your browser — and get it loaded up onto that beautiful little system of yours.
(Taskbar is free, by the way in which, and it does not require any eyebrow-raising permissions so as to function. So cost ahead, my fellow courageous explorer — cost ahead with gusto.)
As soon as Taskbar’s in place in your Chromebook, open the app up, and you will find your self observing its configuration display. There are a number of changes we have to make so as to have issues operating the way in which they need to, so follow me and keep affected person; I promise we’ll get to the great half quickly.
Okay — begin by clicking or tapping the “Common settings” part, and on the menu that comes up:
- Choose “Place on display” and alter it to “Backside left (vertical).”
- Examine the field subsequent to “Various place for collapse button.”
Now, click on or faucet the arrow within the upper-left nook of the display to get again to the principle settings space. Choose “Superior options,” after which:
- Examine the field subsequent to “Exchange house display” and comply with the steps to grant the app permission to show over different apps. Taskbar wants that permission so as to place itself in your Chromebook’s desktop and present up on prime of different apps you are utilizing. There is no actual danger concerned.
- As soon as you’ve got granted the permission, make your means again to the “Superior options” menu. You will in all probability should examine the field subsequent to “Exchange house display” another time now to get it to take.
- Subsequent, examine the field subsequent to “Allow widget help.”
- Final however not least, choose “Widget dashboard grid measurement” and alter it to 2×2. (You possibly can return and play with this later, if you’d like, however this setting appears probably the most appropriate to the Chrome OS atmosphere to me. It divides your widget-panel display into quarters and provides you area for 4 completely different widgets with loads of room for ’em to unfold out and breathe.)
Now, take a deep breath your self — we’re virtually finished! Click on or faucet the arrow within the upper-left nook of the display to get again to the principle Taskbar settings space once more. There’s only one factor left to do for this preliminary foundational a part of our setup, and it is an essential one: Click on or faucet the toggle within the upper-right nook of that settings display and flip it into the on place. That is what’ll really activate the appliance. (I informed you it was essential!) You will in all probability see a immediate asking if you wish to grant a sure permission so as to embody current apps within the instrument; I might recommend clicking “Cancel” and ignoring that for now, because it’s actually not wanted, and it will simply add further litter into the interface for our present functions.
And that, my efficiency-adoring amigo, is it. You must now see the Taskbar interface proper above the round launcher icon within the lower-left nook of your display — and also you’re able to get your customized Chrome OS widget panel arrange with all of the wuvely widgets you need. (And to be clear, by the way in which, “wuvely” is not a typo. It is the phrase “beautiful,” as mentioned with an Elmer Fudd accent.)
Customizing your Chromebook widget panel
Hey, you made it! That is the enjoyable half! Pat your self on the again, then cease screwing round and let’s get this factor finished already.
First, to open up your productiveness dashboard, click on or faucet on the arrow above that launcher icon — the identical one we had been simply taking a look at a second in the past.
Yup — that is the one, you sensible and succesful sea creature. When you click on that dangerous boy, you must see an expanded bar with a square-shaped icon exhibiting six small rectangles inside it. See?
Click on that, and bam: There’s your dashboard. It’s going to pop up atop the rest you’ve got received open, whether or not it is your function-free Chrome OS desktop, a browser window, or any number of Chromebook-compatible apps. After all, it is clean proper now, which is not particularly helpful. So let’s repair that, we could?
Hover your mouse over any of the 4 quadrants of your display — or faucet your finger onto any of ’em as soon as, if you happen to’re utilizing a Chromebook with out a keyboard helpful — and you must see the phrases “Click on so as to add widget” seem. Are you able to guess what we’re gonna do subsequent?
Sure, oh sure: Click on or faucet onto that very space, and holy jumpin’ jackalopes: Identical to that, you will see a easy widget choice interface seem proper in entrance of your overly moist eyeballs.
Pick any widget you need, comply with the steps to configure it as wanted, and earlier than you realize it, you will be observing a flowery interactive widget — proper in your crusty ol’ Chromebook.
And keep in mind: Identical to with a widget on Android, you possibly can scroll up or down in it, as supported, and faucet any energetic space of it to leap on to the associated aspect. You possibly can replenish all 4 spots and have quite a lot of widgets on demand and out there — together with any of my prime Android widget suggestions, if you happen to’re on the lookout for inspiration — or you possibly can maintain issues easy and simply add one or two gadgets into the combination. Bear in mind, too, which you can all the time return and modify that “Widget dashboard grid measurement” setting from a minute in the past to mess around with what number of spots can be found (and thus additionally how a lot area every one among ’em is ready to take up).
A handful of different issues price noting earlier than we name it a day:
- Anytime you need to entry your widgets, simply comply with the identical steps from above and click on or faucet that small arrow to disclose the total Taskbar bar, if wanted, then click on or faucet the square-grid icon to make the widgets present up.
- Clicking or tapping that square-grid icon a second time will make the panel go away; clicking or tapping the arrow icon once more will make the bar collapse.
- When the bar is expanded, it’s also possible to click on or faucet the round icon in that space to see and rapidly entry any Android apps which might be put in in your Chromebook. It is not probably the most important good thing about this setup, if you happen to ask me, however it’s an fascinating further contact that is there and value holding in thoughts.
- For those who ever need to take away a widget out of your panel, double-click it — or long-press it together with your finger (supplied you could have a Chromebook with a touch-screen, that’s; in any other case, you will not accomplish something greater than smudging up your show and making your self really feel foolish).
- You will should manually open the Taskbar app as soon as each time you restart your Chromebook so as to get it up and operating. The app does have an choice in its settings to begin itself mechanically upon booting, however it does not appear to work within the Chrome OS atmosphere. It is a minor further step however a fairly painless one to deal with. You would even pin the app to your taskbar space to assist your self keep in mind and maintain it a single click on or faucet away.
And that, my expensive, is all there may be to this. All that is left is to widget away — widget away with abandon, rattling it! — and go away everybody else round you questioning how on the planet you are making that virtual-genie-level magic occur.
Need much more Googley information? Join my weekly newsletter to get next-level ideas and perception delivered on to your inbox.
Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.