Tip: Changing the Default App Association for Files in ChromeOS

Changing which app opens which file type in ChromeOS isn’t easy to find and there are caveats.

For most file types, the default is good enough, but for others, you may want to change the app that opens the file type because you like something better. For example, the default app for opening PDF files doesn’t currently support markups, signatures, or bookmarks. We recently recommended XODO for these additional features, but you still have to run XODO first and then open the file you want to edit from within the app. Opening a PDF in the file system will still open the file in the system’s default app.

But, you can change that.

First off, you can’t change the default app to a web app. It has to be an app installed to run locally. So, in the case for XODO, you have to install the Android app from the Google Play Store. The ChromeOS extension or the XODO web app won’t work.

You can find the Android app here: Xodo PDF Reader & Editor

In the case of XODO, once you have the Android app installed, you’ll need to open it once so that XODO will prompt you to allow it access to the local file system. Once you give it access, XODO will be added to the list of applicable default apps.

Now, go into the File system, locate a PDF file and highlight it.

Then, choose dropdown arrow next to “Open” at the top of the Files app and choose “Change Default.”

Change the default to Xodo.

Using this method you can alter the default app for just about any file type.

Tip: Reset the Chromebook Hardware

It’s rare, but it can happen. Sometimes the Chromebook hardware can lock into an unknown state that essentially looks like it has stopped booting or appears to be out of battery.

In this case, when you can’t get to the options for restarting or resetting the OS, you can perform a hardware reset.

For most Chromebooks you perform a hardware reset by pressing the Refresh and Power buttons simultaneously.


Some Chromebooks have an actual power button included in the keyboard layout, but for those without, you’ll need to use the hardware power button on the Chromebook’s side with the Refresh key.

Additionally, for some Chromebooks, resetting the hardware requires pressing a special reset button, unplugging the power cable, or removing and re-inserting the battery. Search your specific manufacturer’s website for the proper sequence.

Tip: Best PDF Reader and Annotator for ChromeOS

It’s pretty regular that the question arises for new (and old) ChromeOS users about which is the best PDF Reader with editing and annotating features available.

It’s easy to get lost down the rabbit hole of researching, testing, and figuring because there are a growing number of options for ChromeOS users. However, one solution that continues to fill the feature list is the offering from XODO. XODO PDF Reader & Annotator provides pretty much the depth of features generally requested, and its available for multiple platforms as installable apps but also as a web-based tool. Plus, if you create an account, you can store your PDFs in the XODO bookshelf and share with others.

Go to: https://www.xodo.com/

XODO is available for the following platforms…

Tip: Onscreen Map for All ChromeOS Keyboard Shortcuts

Like any operating system, ChromeOS contains specific keyboard combinations to enable shortcuts to certain operations.

In ChromeOS, these keyboard shortcuts are always available to review. To view the keyboard shortcuts, just type the following in the Chrome web browser:


With the keyboard overlay on the screen, hit the Ctrl, Shift, or Alt keys (or a combination of the three) and the shortcut combinations will display onscreen.

Tip: Sideloading Fire TV Apps Directly from a Chromebook

Getting Android apps installed on your Fire TV device is usually a convoluted process. It usually requires you to install a download app on the Fire TV device and then know the full URL to the Android app’s apk.

With the ability for ChromeOS devices to install and load Android apps, the process for sideloading Fire TV apps becomes a lot easier. Essentially, any Android app that you can install on the ChromeOS device can be used to install on the Fire TV device. Not everything will work there, of course, but for apps like the Spectrum TV app, it’s an easy way to get it there.

Incidentally, Spectrum has been horribly slow at developing a supported app for Fire TV, however, except for a few minor screen issues, it works fine.

The app to install on your ChromeOS device is Apps2Fire.

Apps2Fire provides an easy interface for locating and then transferring and installing apps that are installed locally on the ChromeOS device.

To make it work, you first need to prepare the Fire TV device by enabling both debugging and allowing apps from unknown sources, as shown in the image…

You also need to give Apps2Fire the IP address of your Fire TV device. This can be found going into Settings – My Fire TV – Network.

Once you have the Fire TV device’s IP address, enter it into the Setup area of Apps2Fire.

Now, with your ChromeOS device connected to your Fire TV device, you can select any installed Android apps to transfer and install.

App2Fire has a slew of other features you’ll want to check out. It does much more than just make app sideloading easier. Here are a few additional features:

– Push apps from the mobile to the Fire TV
– Launch apps on the Fire TV
– Download apps from the Fire TV to your mobile
– Uninstall apps from the Fire TV
– Upload files (.apk, .jpg, .mp4,…) from your sd card to the Fire TV
– Rename files on Fire TV’s sd card
– Make Screenshots from Fire TV screen
– Scanner for devices
– Pause and restart fire tv

Tip: Dark Reading Mode for ChromeOS

There’s been talk over the past few days about a new “dark mode” that is coming for the Chrome web browser – which ultimately would also be made available for ChromeOS. However, if you really want to enable dark mode now, you can do so with a very robust, very feature-rich Web Store extension.

Get it: Dark Reader

Dark Reader generates dark mode for websites on the fly and does a very good job at it. It’s also customizable. You can adjust brightness, contrast, sepia filter, dark mode, font settings, and an ignore-list.


Tip: Monitor Power and Configure Low Battery Alerts for ChromeOS

ChromeOS doesn’t yet provide the ability to customize battery percentage alerts, but should in a future release. However, if you would like to have this ability, download and install the Charge Status extension from the Chrome Web Store.

Extension page: Charge Status

After you install the extension it will take a bit, but after 10 seconds or so your initial battery charge status will display…

You can also go to the Profile tab and customize your Low and Critical Alert Thresholds for which you’ll receive notifications.

To access these pages later, just tap or click the Charge Status icon in the Chrome web browser Extensions list.

For even deeper reporting on the Chromebook’s battery life, you can use the battery_test command in the ChromeOS Developer Shell.

See: Tip: Accessing and Using the ChromeOS Developer Shell

Tip: Accessing and Using the ChromeOS Developer Shell

If you’ve ever used a Windows PC, you’re probably familiar with the MS-DOS CMD window where you can manipulate files, traverse directories, and run special commands. Or, you might also be familiar with the PowerShell CMD window, where even more powerful Windows command-line wealth is available. Did you know that ChromeOS offers something similar?

ChromeOS has the Chrome OS Developer Shell or CROSH. To access it, use the following key sequence on the Chromebook keyboard:


CROSH opens and runs in a Chrome web browser tab.

There’s a stack of ready-made commands you can access in CROSH, containing things like battery status, free memory information, peer-to-peer update sharing, Wake-on-Lan configuration, etc. To find all the commands available to you and how to use them, type Help_Advanced at the <crosh> prompt and hit enter.

To exit CROSH, just close the tab or type Exit at the <crosh> prompt.

Don’t like the white text on a black background or just want to customize the CROSH environment? Open the Terminal Profile Settings page:


Tip: Tool to Remove Backgrounds in Images on ChromeOS

There are a number of options for working with images on ChromeOS. Some of those are actually Android apps installed from the Google Play Store. However, a recent entry may actually prove to be the best option for the most important reason of all – its automatic.

The site is: https://www.remove.bg/

The site isn’t a PWA, but you can still run it as an app on ChromeOS by using this tip: Turn Any Website into a PWA on ChromeOS

Using the tool is easy. You simply upload the image to the site and presto-changeo, the background of the image is removed automatically. You can then save the prepared image (without the background) locally as a PNG file. Note that this only works on images that have people in them.

This is a great tool to add to our growing list of graphics app favorites for ChromeOS.


Tip: Best Sketching/Drawing App for ChromeOS

Tip: Best Snagit Replacement for ChromeOS

Google Launches Chrome Canvas – a PWA for Quick Drawings and Sketches

Google today has launched a new Progressive Web App (PWA) called Chrome Canvas.

Chrome Canvas is a web-based drawing tool, giving users the ability to make quick sketches and drawings using a small toolkit of pens, pencils, and erasers.

Chrome Canvas: https://canvas.apps.chrome/

The tool is pretty basic, but according to rumors, Google may be developing this into a more feature rich artists tool. Your drawings are automatically saved and you can export any drawing as a PNG file. You can also open a local image file to draw or write on it. It works well with a finger, a mouse cursor, or a compatible stylus.

You can access this on any ChromeOS device and through the Chrome browser, or install it as a PWA app.

To install a PWA, once on a PWA-enabled website, just choose the “install” option on the Settings menu.

If you’re looking for something more full-featured, Sketchpad is still the best: Tip: Best Sketching/Drawing App for ChromeOS

Tip: Using the Keyboard to Launch Shelf Apps in ChromeOS

Most ChromeOS users stick their most commonly accessed apps on the Shelf at the bottom of the screen. Did you know you can quickly launch any of these apps using the keyboard?

Each app pinned to the Shelf is assigned a silent “number” – from left to right.

For example, on the following Shelf, there are 14 pinned apps.

The keyboard shortcut to launch an app is Alt-<number>. So, based on the image, if you wanted to launch Amazon Music, you’d press:


But, there’s also a quirk (bug). If you have more than 9 pinned apps, ChromeOS works for the first 8, but then assigns the number ‘9’ to the very last app pinned on the Shelf. It essentially skips numbering apps beyond ‘9’. Its possible Google never envisioned anyone needing more than a few apps at hand.

Tip: Previewing Files in ChromeOS

Being able to quickly preview files instead of opening them is a handy tool. For ChromeOS, this works just like it does on a Mac.

To do it…

  1. Tap or click to highlight a file in the file system.
  2. Tap the spacebar.


When you do this, the preview of the file will display in an overlay and also show file details.

This will work for any file type that ChromeOS supports.