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Home / Tips and Tricks / Here’s how to make your Chromebook look and feel like a MacBook

Here’s how to make your Chromebook look and feel like a MacBook

Whether you’re looking for an affordable companion or just aren’t looking to pay sky-high prices for a new Apple laptop, a Chromebook is a great option. With a quick, touch-friendly user interface and a breezy setting for getting things done, a Chromebook is a great addition to an Apple fan’s gear bag, whether it’s the main unit or not.

The only problem: Chromebooks are much closer to a Windows PC than a Mac. From the experience to the user interface, Chrome OS is clearly Windows inspired, but doesn’t have to stay that way. Google offers numerous customization options that you can use to free your Chromebook from all Windows influences.

Hug the shelf

One of the most important things that separate macOS from the Windows operating system is the dock. However, Chromebooks have something similar, called a shelf, which stores commonly used apps and websites for easy launching. The shelf can hold an unlimited number of apps ̵

1; if you add more than you can see, you can swipe to see the rest – and just like macOS, you can keep it visible or slide it to the sides of the screen. Just right click on an empty space in the Dock and you’ll see options for auto-hide and position.

Chromebook Dock IDG

Chrome OS’s shelf is just like the macOS Dock.

To add apps to the shelf, just right-click an icon and select Pin to Shelf. You can do the same thing to unpin an app, or you can drag it out and drop it somewhere on the desktop.

It’s a little different with web apps. When you’re in Chrome and you find a site that you want to return to regularly (like iCloud below), go to the top right menu and choose Create Shortcut. Then rename it whatever you want and check the “Open as window” box if you want it to look like an app rather than a tab in Chrome.

Change your keys

You might not have a Windows key, but Chromebook keyboards are clearly PC-like, with Alt and Ctrl keys instead of Command and Option. Although you can’t find the Bowen Node on your keyboard, you can remap your keys so your fingers believe it’s there. Just go to the device setting and click the Keyboard tab to swap the Alt and Ctrl keys and restore a semblance of normalcy.

Add iCloud to your dock

If you’re looking for an extension or Play Store app to use to access your iCloud account, you won’t find any. However, this does not mean that your iCloud account is locked out on your Chromebook. When you sign in to iCloud.com using a browser, you get access to Email, Contacts, Calendar, Photos, Notes, Reminders, and iCloud Drive, as well as Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and the Find My apps. It’s not quite as seamless as it is on a Mac – you have to sign in repeatedly and check your 2FA credentials regularly – but it’s certainly better than not having it. If you want it to be available in one click, just follow the instructions above to add a website to your dock.

Chromebook iCloud IDG

You can access most of your iCloud content on your Chromebook.

Turn off your scrolling

There are a lot of differences between PCs and Macs, but the biggest one is scrolling with the trackpad. Since MacOS X Lion, Apple has switched to iOS scrolling. Swipe up and the contents of the page will move in the same direction. This is different on PCs. If your Chromebook uses “natural” scrolling, you can toggle it the Mac way by enabling reverse scrolling in Trackpad Settings.

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