Make the most of your Chromebook with these apps.
Your Chromebook is a safe, inexpensive, and simple portal the internet but it can do so much more. Whether you want to get productive, have a little fun or keep in touch you’ll find an app to help do it in the Chrome Web Store. Here’s the short — and ever-changing — list of ones we think you have to try.
Polarr Photo Editor
One area where Chromebooks have traditionally been lacking is media creation tools. Photoshop for Chrome is a real thing, but it requires you to have an Adobe education license for Creative Cloud and live in North America. If you meet these qualifications you should definitely have a look, but for the rest of us, there is Polarr Photo Editor.
Polarr is beautifully done, filled with features and is extremely lightweight. It’s an offline app so you can work without an internet connection and it’s the best way to edit photographs on your Chromebook. Whether you need to turn RAW files into great photos or just touch up something before you share it on Facebook, Polarr Photo Editor can handle the job.
We’re cheating a little bit here, but access to Skype is important enough to allow it.
Skype on the web now supports text chat and phones calls using standard internet communication protocols — that means it works on your Chromebook.
There are many different communication apps available — including Google’s own Hangouts — but for many Skype is the de facto standard. Using your Skype account and Microsoft’s official website, all you need to do is log and start Skyping.
For those who want it, there are also several launchers at the Chrome Web Store that let you launch the Skype site in its own window through an icon, but we think a bookmark is just as good.
Any.do is one of the best ways to stay organized. It’s a task manager, reminder list, calendar, and organizer all in one and it syncs across all your devices. It’s also quite the looker!
Using the Any.do app for Chrome gives you the same tools and features as the client for your phone (Android and iOS) does plus the ability to drag and drop attachments, notes, and tasks using your Chromebook’s trackpad. Any.do is scalable and great for keeping track of a few reminders or as a complete organization tool for your entire team.
Your Chromebook gives you access to everything Google Docs has to offer. While that’s more than enough productivity for some of us, if you work in a Microsoft environment Office Online is a must-have.
Using the same subscription you hold for the full version of Office for Windows or Mac, you get access to all the tools and features using your Microsoft account. You can view, edit and create files in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Sway right from your Chromebook and synchronization with your OneDrive account means they are accessible anywhere. You can also work locally when you’re not connected to the internet.
If you’re a Microsoft Office user, Office Online is a no-brainer.
No list of great Chrome apps would be complete without StreamDor.
The internet is huge, and it’s filled with awesome content if you know where to find it. StreamDor is a list of 20,000 movies that you can stream for free. Everything is legal and above the board, and there’s no funny stuff going on.
The list is refreshed daily and you’ll find old favorites as well as recent hits at high quality from sites like YouTube or Vimeo. While StreamDor doesn’t serve any content themselves, the app is the perfect way to find it all in one place. It’s free and a great way to relax during some down time.
If you’re still waiting for Android apps on your Chromebook, or you just don’t want to install everything from Google Play, Mighty Text is a great way to get all your notifications.
Don’t let the name fool you. Might Text is awesome and lets you read, reply and send SMS messages using your regular phone number. But it can also forward any notification from your phone right to your Chromebook screen. Folks who use an app like this will tell you how cool this is, and once you try it you’ll be doing the same. It’s one of those apps you’ll wish you had tried earlier.
Everyone has favorites. Jump in the comments and tell us what your best Chrome apps are! Sometimes jewels are easy to overlook when you have so many choices so you’re helping everyone when you tell us what apps we need to check out.
This post was updated in January 2017 to stay current and list the best Chrome apps.