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Chrome OS 101: save and retrieve files

About three years ago I was looking for a Chromebook to go on a business trip – I wanted something that was light enough to take with you all day and cheap enough that I wouldn't mind so much if I spilled coffee on the keyboard. I considered two different models when a salesperson came by to see if I needed help. & # 39; You are aware of this, & # 39; he said, & # 39; that these are Chromebooks, right? They only work online; you cannot save files on the hard disk. "

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It was of course not the first time I caught a salesperson in a mistake. But this is an error that seems to have persisted.

Yes, Chromebooks are made to be used primarily online. When the first Chrome OS laptops were introduced in 2011, there were very few apps that could be used offline, which was a big mistake. But that was then, and this is now.

Currently, apps such as Google Docs and Spreadsheets (the basic apps for Chrome OS) can be used both online and offline. In addition, you can save files locally on the SSD of the laptop or, on some models, on an SD memory card.

If you have just purchased your first Chromebook or are considering one, you will find here the basics for storing your files on your Chromebook and finding them again.

Save your files

Saving a file in a Chromebook is very similar to saving a file in macOS or Windows. You can save a file in two ways:

  • Press Ctrl + S or
  • Right-click on the image or file that you want to save and select "Save as …"

Either way, you open the Files app (the equivalent of the Mac Finder or the Windows file explorer). In the list on the left, select the folder in which you want to save your file and then click the Save button in the lower right corner. (If you want to change the name of the file, you can do so in the field to the left of the Save button.) You can also save and retrieve files from Google Drive from here.


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The Files app is pre-loaded with a Downloads folder, but you can easily create your own folders by clicking the New Folder button in the lower left.

Search for your files

Follow these steps to find your saved files:

  • Click on the Launcher button at the bottom left of the screen.
  • An apps window appears at the bottom of the screen. If you have recently used the Files app, it will appear just below the search field with other recently used apps. Click here.
  • Otherwise, click the up arrow just above the search field to view all apps in your Chromebook and click the Files app.

The Files app also organizes your files automatically in the Recent, Audio, Images, and Videos folders to make those types of files easier to find.


Keep in mind that although you can store a reasonable number of files, most Chromebooks come with a relatively small amount of storage – you can probably expect 32 GB or 64 GB unless you choose a premium device such as the Pixelbook from Google. So you do not have the same capacity as on a typical Mac or Windows system. But you are also not limited to working online.

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