Some weeks, Chrome OS will get so many new options, it appears 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 lately, although, is the desktop surroundings — y’know, the Chromebook’s exceptionally humble residence display screen. Positive, the taskbar space (a.okay.a. the Chrome OS shelf) has realized just a few new methods 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 screen is an all-purpose panel for each app shortcuts and interactive widgets. Widgets particularly have the potential to make a lot vital information available, and so they’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 put widgets on a Chromebook’s desktop. (It is astonishing, I do know. I am beginning to marvel if my sorcery powers aren’t as potent as I have been led to imagine.) You’ll be able to set up Android apps on a Chromebook, in fact, however widgets? Nope. Fuhgeddaboutit. Not gonna occur, Horatio.
Or so you’ll assume. Google could not formally help Android widgets on Chrome OS as of now, however with a little bit artistic tinkering, you’ll be able to construct your self a customized panel crammed with any widgets you need after which make ’em all obtainable from anyplace in your Chromebook system. It is a customized Chrome OS productiveness dashboard, primarily, and it will take you all of 4 minutes to arrange.
Right here, look — this 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 Preserve notes assortment:
When you get this factor goin’, my goodness, you are gonna be zippin’ round and takin’ care of enterprise like, properly, no one’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 drag this feat off, you may must snag the key ingredient in our zesty and suspiciously greasy geek-stew recipe. It is an appetizing app referred to as Taskbar, and whereas it is primarily designed for Android, it really works deliciously properly on the Chromebook facet of issues. So go get it — both through 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 would not require any eyebrow-raising permissions in an effort 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 watching its configuration display screen. There are just a few changes we have to make in an effort to have issues operating the way in which they need to, so stick to me and keep affected person; I promise we’ll get to the great half quickly.
Okay — begin by clicking or tapping the “Basic settings” part, and on the menu that comes up:
- Choose “Place on display screen” and alter it to “Backside left (vertical).”
- Test the field subsequent to “Various place for collapse button.”
Now, click on or faucet the arrow within the upper-left nook of the display screen to get again to the principle settings space. Choose “Superior options,” after which:
- Test the field subsequent to “Substitute residence display screen” and observe the steps to grant the app permission to show over different apps. Taskbar wants that permission in an effort to place itself in your Chromebook’s desktop and present up on high of different apps you are utilizing. There isn’t any actual threat concerned.
- As soon as you have granted the permission, make your method again to the “Superior options” menu. You will most likely need to examine the field subsequent to “Substitute residence display screen” yet 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 dimension” and alter it to 2×2. (You’ll be able to return and play with this later, if you would like, however this setting appears probably the most appropriate to the Chrome OS surroundings to me. It divides your widget-panel display screen into quarters and offers 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 executed! Click on or faucet the arrow within the upper-left nook of the display screen 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 vital one: Click on or faucet the toggle within the upper-right nook of that settings display screen and flip it into the on place. That is what’ll truly activate the appliance. (I advised you it was vital!) You will most likely see a immediate asking if you wish to grant a sure permission in an effort to embrace current apps within the software; I might counsel 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. It is best to now see the Taskbar interface proper above the round launcher icon within the lower-left nook of your display screen — 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 executed 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 unhealthy boy, it’s best to 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 have acquired open, whether or not it is your function-free Chrome OS desktop, a browser window, or any number of Chromebook-compatible apps. In fact, it is clean proper now, which is not particularly helpful. So let’s repair that, lets?
Hover your mouse over any of the 4 quadrants of your display screen — or faucet your finger onto any of ’em as soon as, for those who’re utilizing a Chromebook with out a keyboard useful — and it’s best to 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: Similar to that, you may see a easy widget choice interface seem proper in entrance of your overly moist eyeballs.
Select any widget you need, observe the steps to configure it as wanted, and earlier than you recognize it, you may be watching a flowery interactive widget — proper in your crusty ol’ Chromebook.
And keep in mind: Similar to with a widget on Android, you’ll be able to scroll up or down in it, as supported, and faucet any lively space of it to leap on to the associated factor. You’ll be able to replenish all 4 spots and have a wide range of widgets on demand and obtainable — together with any of my high Android widget suggestions, for those who’re in search of inspiration — or you’ll be able to maintain issues easy and simply add one or two objects into the combination. Bear in mind, too, you could at all times return and regulate that “Widget dashboard grid dimension” 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 value noting earlier than we name it a day:
- Anytime you wish to entry your widgets, simply observe the identical steps from above and click on or faucet that small arrow to disclose the complete 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 are put in in your Chromebook. It isn’t probably the most vital advantage of this setup, for those who ask me, however it’s an attention-grabbing further contact that is there and price protecting in thoughts.
- For those who ever wish to take away a widget out of your panel, double-click it — or long-press it along with your finger (offered you will 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 need to manually open the Taskbar app as soon as each time you restart your Chromebook in an effort to get it up and operating. The app does have an possibility in its settings to begin itself robotically upon booting, however it would not appear to work within the Chrome OS surroundings. It is a minor further step however a fairly painless one to take care of. You could possibly 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’s 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.
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