20 Real Things I Have Done on My Google Chromebook

Still irked about that Microsoft “Scroogled” commercial I rebutted the other day, so I put together this list of things that I have done on my Google Chromebook; you know, the device that Microsoft claims “is not a real laptop” and “is a brick” without WiFi:

  1. Written over 200,000 words of fiction in 2013 (in Google Docs).
  2. Wrote all of the code to support my Google Writing Scripts.
  3. Wrote and posted several hundred blog posts and managed my WordPress blog.
  4. Managed my to-lists (with Wunderlist and Trello)
  5. Created and presented a slide deck on using Evernote for writers while at the Launch Pad Astronomy workshop.
  6. Live-edited a document with an editor in Google Docs.
  7. Made sure all of my bills were paid.
  8. Streamed NetFlix videos
  9. Edited photos taken with my Canon PowerShot digital camera.
  10. Captured lecture notes (in Evernote) while attending astronomy lectures.
  11. Built a complex set of spreadsheets for managing my personal analytics data.
  12. Wrote some code in Mathematica via Chrome Remote Desktop.
  13. Wrote hundreds of email messages.
  14. Kept up with Twitter and scheduled tweets with Buffer.
  15. Kept up with RSS feeds via Feedly.
  16. Kept my Inbox close to zero thanks to Boomerang for Gmail.
  17. Read a book via the Kindle Cloud App.
  18. Attended several Google Hangouts with Video.
  19. Watched YouTube videos.
  20. Worked on a story and nonfiction article for the entire duration of a three-hour flight, without any WiFi connection.

And here are a few things that I haven’t needed to do, thanks to my Google Chromebook:

  1. Install software.
  2. Reinstall the operating system.
  3. Call technical support.
  4. Worry about viruses.
  5. Uninstall something useful because it was interfering with other things on my computer.
  6. Clear out space on the disk, because I’d run out.
  7. Move document files back and forth between computers.
  8. Share documents between computers via Dropbox.
  9. Add memory to the computer because it was running too slowly.
  10. Wait for my computer to start up. Because even when it is powered completely down, it takes less than 10 seconds to boot.

Tell me again how the Google Chromebook isn’t a real laptop, and how I’ve been “scroogled”?


  1. Very intersting article, thank you, Jamie!

    I have a few questions:

    1) What can’t you do with the Chromebook?
    2) Is it possible to take screen shots?
    3) You mention editing photos: which application do you use?

    1. Michel, this post was prompted by a Microsoft commercial that said a Chromebook wasn’t a real laptop and implied you couldn’t do anything useful with one.

      1. I really haven’t found much I can’t do. I can’t run Mathematica directly on the Chromebook, but I can access it from my Chromebook via Chrome Remote Desktop. That is probably the only thing that I have tried that I couldn’t do directly.

      2. Screenshots. Yes, there is a button on the keyboard specifically for capturing screenshot.

      3. Photo-editing. Mostly I used Aviary, which is the main photo editing tool in Flickr.

  2. I’m intrigued by your productive post. I’ve been looking at replacing my “cracked screen” iPad 2 but not sure what with. I’ve looked at Kindle Fire HDX but seems like overkill. Don’t want another iPad. Looked at Samsung Note but again seems like a lot of money for what it can do. And now that you’ve posted about Chromebook, I’m going to research it. Thank you!

  3. For those interested in checking out whether a Chromebook would work for them, just install the Chrome browser on a “real” computer, visit the Chrome Store and look for apps and extensions to get the things you need done. Then see if you can live in that environment. Or probably more accurately, see if you want to leave that environment and go back to the old way of doing things.

    I’ve been on a Chromebook since last May and it is my primary computer. Its not my only one – I still use a Windows desktop, primarily for scanning and document imaging. Also, if I am working on a more involved project, the dual monitor set up on the desktop is preferable. But outside of that, Chrome and the Chrombook have become my operating environment of choice for just about everything. And I am running a small business in this environment as well.

  4. This is an awesome post I totally agree with. As a Chromebook user myself, I’d like to add a few things:

    1.) I did my entire nanowrimo last year on my Chromebook.
    2.) It is my main work computer, and even though I have a PC at home, it is mostly the game and backup computer. My chromebook is usually faster, and distraction-free.
    3.) I would like to point out that Evernote’s new screen clipper comes with awesome image annotation powers. Myself, I like to use pixlr’s suite, that comes with very powerful tools, all free. I used it for all of my “artistic” photo-manipulation needs.

    The Chromebook also has excellent battery life and, joined with tethering by cellphone, there’s little you can’t do on it. It is super light which makes it easy to carry around everywhere I go (I do walk a lot) and it fits into a smaller bag, it makes a HUGE difference when you commute in crowded subways like I do.

    There’s also something comforting in the fact that I am carrying a computer that is only worth about $200 and all of my work is backed up in the cloud. This is not something you can say on, say, a fancy macbook air. You lose one of these, you’re going to tear your hair out. 🙂

    * * *
    I also want to note that I used the plugin you recommended on my blog and the result looks a lot like your blog. I feel like I should give you credit… I know this template is modified to your needs, what do you think?

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