These web apps will revolutionize your Chromebook experience

Brittany A. Roston - Jul 7, 2017, 2:52pm CDT
These web apps will revolutionize your Chromebook experience

Chromebooks are great (I’m writing this article on one!), but they’re different than the laptops you’re probably used to. There’s less storage space in most cases, and you can’t download all your favorite software regardless. The Chrome Web Store makes up for that in certain cases with its own downloadable apps, such as Caret for those who need a text editor and Signal if you’re keen on private chats. The best thing you can do, though, is discover the Internet’s best web apps and put them to good use.

Pixlr Editor (Category: Image Editing)

I have to edit at least a dozen images a day, and my go-to solution on the Chromebook is Pixlr Editor, a Photoshop-esque web app that offers a bunch of the features you’d find in a traditional image editing application. Features include layers, dodge and burn, red eye reduction, filters, spot healing, gradient, color replacement, color and lighting adjustments, and more. If you’re proficient with Photoshop, you’ll be able to jump straight into Pixlr Editor with little or no trouble.

Canva (Category: Graphic Design)

Canva is a web app that enables anyone to channel their inner graphic designer. If you need a fancy letter, magazine or ebook cover, blog design, party invitations, or similar but can’t afford to have some made, Canva is the solution. This service offers a bunch of graphic design templates, streamlining the process of creating your own attractive products for whatever you’re working on. You’ll need to create an account, but afterwards the process is as simple as opening a web page.

Toggl (Category: Productivity)

You may know Toggl from its Android or iOS app, but it doesn’t stop there. Toggl has an online website that makes it easy to keep track of where your time goes using your Chromebook. Think of Toggl like a time sheet, one that creates reports, tracks projects, and can even keep track of billable hours and related income if you upgrade from the free service. This is great for freelancers and remote workers, as well as anyone who wants to keep track of how many hours they spend on various tasks over the course of weeks and months. Create an account, create the projects, then hit the ‘Play’ and ‘Stop’ button when your tasks are started and finished.

Coffitivity (Category: Audio)

Maybe you like the ambiance of being in public but not the inconveniences it involves: hunting for outlets, dealing with interruptions, sitting at an uncomfortable table, having to share the bathroom, etc. That’s where the web noise generator Coffitivity comes in, offering instant background audio from places like a cafe library, lunchtime lounge, university, Texas teahouse, Brazil bistro, and more. You can access a handful of the audio samples for free, while the rest require a premium subscription at $9/year.

Calmly Writer (Category: Writing)

Calmly Writer is everything you could want in a simple, distraction-free word processor, and it is available entirely with the Chrome browser. Open the online app and you can start typing right away, no other steps necessary. When that’s no longer enough, click the small company logo in the upper left-hand corner to open the word processor’s menu.

From there, you’re presented with the doc’s word and character counts, read time, as well as features like saving, inserting an image, printing, creating a new document, and opening an existing document. You have the option of saving a local copy in txt, htm, or docx formats, or uploading a copy to Google Drive.

Buffer (Category: Social Media)

Maybe you like to tweet or post to Facebook throughout the day to keep your audience engaged, but the actual act of opening these social networks is a productivity drain. One quick browse through your feed becomes and hour-long Twitter experience, and that’s a problem. Buffer aims to be the solution you need, allowing anyone to schedule posts to automatically run throughout the day. Supported networks include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Digg Reader (Category: RSS)

An RSS reader is the quickest way to stay up-to-date on your preferred news categories, and many people used Google Reader as their go-to solution. Unfortunately, Google made the decision to kill off its reader product, but another company stepped in to fill the void: Digg, which now offers something called Digg Reader. The product is accessible through any web browser and works in mostly the same way as Google Reader.

Retro Games (Category: Fun)

Okay, this one isn’t explicitly a web app, but it fits the bill well enough. The Retro Games website is home to hundreds of classic games from retro systems, such as the SNES and Atari, enabling anyone to play these games directly within their browser. It’s a fun way to procrastinate or take a short break, and it can be enjoyed solely through the Chrome browser. Keep in mind that these games aren’t provided by Nintendo (to which most of them belong), but is instead a labor of love from a third party.

Bonus: Access the apps quickly

You can’t install these apps, so they’re not going to be conveniently located on your desktop. What’s the best way to access these apps without having to sort through your browser bookmarks or manually type in the URLs? A Chrome extension called ‘Momentum’ (download here).

This extension replaces the ordinary ‘new tab’ screen with a beautiful, functional display that includes a ‘links’ section for quickly accessing your favorite web pages. Adding your favorite web apps to this links section makes it possible to quickly access each app from the new tab page with only two mouse clicks.

Wrap-up

Chromebooks are great, but they’re only as useful as the software you have access to. The entire point of a Chromebook is living on the web — you store your documents there, get your email there, so why not access your software there? There’s a web app for just about everything imaginable, and most of them come with cloud storage so that you can access your projects from any computer.


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