With the Chromebook lineup, Google is tightly integrating its apps and services into the hardware and software. In that spirit, all Chromebooks come with an additional search button, that when pressed opens up an app launcher with a Google search box.
The search box in the app launcher is often taken to simply be a Google search shortcut. This search box, however, has a lot of little tricks under its sleeve. Google has designed it to be the one-stop search solution for all your computing needs. Let’s look at some things that the Chrome OS search box can do and a simple Google search can’t.
This is one of the best features of Chrome OS, and hardly anybody knows about it. In the search box, you can type the initial letters of a file stored in Google Drive and it almost instantly shows up in the suggestions. The search box can parse through the huge number of files on your drive in seconds, only to add the required file as a suggestion. Also, it sorts the suggested files according to how frequently you use them. Say bye bye to looking for one particular file in a messy cloud.
Files from the local Downloads folder, however, do not appear on this search box. Don’t worry, though. That problem is solved once you sync your Downloads folder with Google Drive. You can find a detailed guide on how to do that here.
The search box also functions as a Chrome URL bar. You can access suggested links by Chrome from within the search box. Next time you want to type in a URL, you don’t have to bother using the touchpad to open Chrome. Just press the search button and you’re ready to go.
Chrome Web Store Applications
Similar to Android’s Google search bar, the Chrome OS search box also lists installed applications that are relevant to the search query. As you might notice in the picture, it goes a step further by searching the Chrome Web Store for relevant apps and provides a download link, all in the suggestions section of the search bar!
The search box also acts as a quick calculator, so you don’t have to search for an app to do that for you. It understands most basic arithmetic symbols. You have to use the letter ‘x’ or the asterisk (*) symbol for multiplication.
Unit conversion is also available, if that is something you find useful.
Google’s awesome voice search feature is also available on the app launcher. You can activate the Ok Google hotword to launch voice search in the app launcher by ticking the box in Settings.
For what it’s worth, the voice search on Chrome OS can launch also an installed application if you just say it’s name. For example, saying “Google Docs” will launch Docs inside a Chrome window. Pretty cool, right?
These features together make the Chrome OS app launcher utterly convenient. With Chrome OS, Google has tried to show us how awesome search can be when integrated with the local operating system. Search is something we do so frequently that it just makes sense for it to be on the keyboard. Once you get into the habit of using the search box to its full potential, you can never go back.