A part of the Chrome OS experience not yet has changed a lot in recent years, though, is the desktop environment – you know, the Chromebook’s unusually humble home screen. Sure, the taskbar area (aka the Chrome OS shelf) has learned a few new tricks over time, but the desktop itself has remained insultingly blank and free from advanced functionality ever since. start it.
That’s a stark contrast to Android, where the home screen is an all -purpose panel for both app shortcuts and interactive widgets. Widgets in particular have the potential to do that very important information readily available, and they will be equally useful more Chrome OS is already productivity-oriented.
But despite all my desires and calling magic virtual-genie spirits, Google has yet to give us the ability to put widgets on a Chromebook desktop. (Surprising, I know. I’m starting to wonder if my power in witchcraft isn’t as strong as it led me to believe.) You can install Android apps on a Chromebook, of course, but widgets? No. Fuhgeddaboutit. It won’t happen, Horatio.
Or so you might think. Google may not have officially supported Android widgets on Chrome OS until now, but with a little creative tinkering, you can build yourself a custom panel filled with any widgets you want and then make them all available. from anywhere on your Chromebook system. It’s a custom Chrome OS productivity dashboard, essentially, and will take you all four minutes to set up.
Here, take a look – here’s a Chrome OS widget panel that I put together in a moment, along with widgets that show my Gmail inbox, a monthly view of Google Calendar, a Todoist task list, and a collection Google Keep notes:
When you get this thing, my goodness, you’ll be zippin ’around and take care of business like, well, no business. So break those phalanges, grab yourself a fist of crackers, and get ready: It’s time to treat yourself to a what of a Chromebook upgrade.
The secret of the Chrome OS widget
First of all, to pull off this task, you’ll need to seize the secret ingredient in our liveliness and suspiciously greasy geek-stew recipe. This is an appetizer app called Taskbar, and while it’s primarily designed for Android, it works fine on the Chromebook side of things. So get it – either through the dedicated Play Store app on your Chromebook or from the Play Store on your browser – and load it onto your stunning little system.
(The Taskbar is free, by the way, and it doesn’t require any eyebrow -raising permissions to work. So go ahead, my fellow brave explorer – forward with pleasure.)
Once the Taskbar is in place on your Chromebook, open the app, and you’ll find yourself staring at its configuration screen. There are some adjustments we need to make to have things running the way they should, so stay with me and stay patient; I promise we’ll get to the good part soon.
Okay-start by clicking or tapping the “General settings” section, and the menu that appears:
- Select “Screen position” and change it to “Bottom left (vertical).”
- Check the box next to “Alternative position for collapse button.”
Now, click or tap the arrow in the top left corner of the screen to return to the main settings area. Select “Advanced features,” and then:
- Check the box next to “Change home screen” and follow the steps to give the app permission to show to other apps. Taskbar needs that permission to place itself on your Chromebook’s desktop and show up on top of other apps you use. There is no real risk involved.
- Once you’ve granted permission, return to the “Advanced features” menu. You’ll probably need to check the box next to “Change home screen” another time now to get it.
- Next, check the box next to “Enable widget support.”
- Last but not least, select “Widget dashboard grid size” and change it to 2×2. (You can go back and play here later, if you like, but this setting seems best suited to the Chrome OS environment to me. It divides your widget-panel screen into quarters and gives you space for with four different widgets with plenty of room for them to spread out and breathe.)
Now, take a deep breath – we’re almost done! Click or tap the arrow in the upper left corner of the screen to return to the main Taskbar settings area. There’s only one thing left to do for the initial foundation part of our set up, and it’s an essential one: Click or tap the toggle in the top right corner of the settings screen and flip it in in position. That will actually run the application. (I told you it was important!) You’ll probably see a quick inquiry if you want to grant a specific permission to include recent apps in the tool; I suggest clicking “Cancel” and ignoring it for now, because it’s really not necessary, and it will only add extra clutter to the interface for our current purposes.
And that, my friend who is calm in worship, is it. You should now see the Taskbar interface right above the circular launcher icon in the lower left of your screen – and you’re ready to set up your custom Chrome OS panel with all the widgets you want. (And to be clear, by the way, “wuvely” isn’t a typo. It’s the word “lovely,” as said in an Elmer Fudd accent.)
Customizing your Chromebook widget panel
Hey, you did it! This is the fun part! Pat yourself on the back, then stop the rotation and let’s do the thing.
First, to open your productivity dashboard, click or tap on the arrow above the launcher icon-just the same as we looked at a second ago.
Yup – that’s the one, you clever and capable sea creature. When you click the bad boy, you should see an expanded bar with a square icon showing six small rectangles in it. Do you see
Click that, and bam: There’s your dashboard. It will appear on top of anything you open, be it your non-functional Chrome OS desktop, a browser window, or any variation of Chromebook compatible apps. Of course, it’s blank now, which isn’t particularly useful. So let’s fix that, shall we?
Hover your mouse over any of the four quadrants of your screen – or tap your finger on any of them once, if you’re using a Chromebook without a handy keyboard – and you should see the words ” Click to add widget “that will appear. Can you predict what we will do next?
Yes, oh yes: Click or tap on that very spot, and holy jumpals’ jackalopes: Like this, you’ll see a simple widget selection interface that will appear right in front of your super-wet ones. eyeballs.
Choose any widget you like, follow the steps to configure it as needed, and before you know it, you’ll be staring at a fancy interactive widget – on your crusty ol ’Chromebook.
And note: As with an Android widget, you can scroll up or down on it, as supported, and tap any active area of it to jump directly to the associated element. You can fill in all four spots and have a variety of widgets requested and available – including any of my top Android widget recommendations, if you’re looking for inspiration – or you can keep things simple and just add one or two items to the mix. Also note, that you can always go back and adjust the “Widget dashboard size” setting from a minute ago to play around with how many spots are available (and thus also how much space is available. each of them can take).
A few other things worth paying attention to before we call it a day:
- Any time you want to access your widgets, just follow the same steps from above and click or tap the small arrow to display the full Taskbar bar, if necessary, then click or tap the square-grid icon to display widgets.
- Clicking or tapping the square-grid icon a second time will clear the panel; clicking or tapping the arrow icon again will break the bar.
- When the bar expands, you can also click or tap the circular icon in that area to see and quickly access any Android apps installed on your Chromebook. This isn’t the most significant benefit of setting this up, if you ask me, but it’s an interesting super touch that’s present and should be noted.
- If you want to remove a widget from your panel, double-click it-or hold it with your finger (provided you have a Chromebook with a touch-screen, that is; otherwise, nothing) you achieve that more by smudging up your display and making yourself feel silly).
- You’ll need to manually open the Taskbar app each time you restart your Chromebook to get it up and running. The app has an option in its settings to start itself automatically on boot, but it doesn’t seem to work in the Chrome OS environment. It’s a minor extra step but a relatively painless one to argue with. You can also pin the app to the area of your taskbar to help yourself remember and keep it a single click or tap away.
And that, my dear, is just there. The only thing left is the widget away-the widget with abandonment, damn it! – and leave others around you wondering how in the world you are doing the virtual-level level of magic that happened.
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