It’s time for students to get prepped for action, and these days this means ensuring your browser is set up to be efficient, save you time and keep you organized.
Perhaps you’re one of many lucky people who have just gotten a Chromebook for the new school year. Or, you just might be a Google Chrome user who wants to set things up just right in your browser. Here’s how.
Set Up Chrome Syncing
First of all, you’re going to want to make sure your Chrome settings follow you on all of your devices. Most of us have a laptop, a desktop and a mobile phone, plus maybe an iPod or a tablet for occasional use. If you’re going to go to the effort of setting up your browser to make your studies easier, you should make sure those settings are the same everywhere.
Head into your Chrome settings and scroll to the bottom, where you’ll see the “People” section. Set up the Google account you want to use in order to keep your data in sync, then click on “Advanced Sync Settings” to choose exactly what you want to keep in sync. Personally, I like to keep all of my extensions, apps, autofill, and the rest in sync just because it’s simpler for me that way. Especially when you’re going to the effort of finding the exact extensions for your needs.
Get The Best Office Apps & Extensions
Students need to have access to a wide range of document-creating apps, and these days many great options can be found as Chrome apps and extensions. Regardless of whether you have great student applications on your laptop, having options ready and waiting for you within Chrome can be incredibly useful. For instance, you could then jump on to anybody’s Chromebook, log in to your Google account and have all the apps and documents at your fingertips.
As for what you’ll need, start with text editors, spreadsheet tools, email, graphic editing tools, simple diagramming tools, and cloud storage for documents. You might choose to use Google extensions, such as Docs, Google Sheets and other apps that use Google Drive, or you might prefer to install Microsoft Office Online, OneDrive and Word Online.
Think carefully through all the apps you use for your studies on a weekly basis, and make sure you’ve got a Chrome app or extension to do the same thing. This could save you a lot of stress if you’ve got an assignment due and need to work on it or you find yourself using a Chromebook (these are becoming more and more common in libraries and Internet cafés).
Set Up Extensions To Keep You Productive
Along with your regular apps to do all your work, you need to think about how to stay organized. A calendar, a good to-do list (like Todoist), a citation formatter, a dictionary, a student timetable extension, and a homework planner can really help you get things done on time.
Then there are the extensions you need to keep you focused on your work, like a Pomodoro timer, StayFocusd or Focus to eliminate distractions, many different music apps, and Noisli to give you some background noise. These extensions may seem trivial, but they can really help to improve your study patterns and make effective use of your time.
Use Extensions to Keep Yourself Motivated
While productivity is all well and good, sometimes you actually need a little bit of inspiration to get you going. A gorgeous new tab page with a great quote can really motivate you — I use Momentum for this, but there are hundreds of beautiful and productive new tab extensions to choose from.
Get Ready to Go Offline
Now, you’re not always going to have Internet access while you’re studying. Maybe you’ve got a quiet spot on campus that doesn’t have WiFi, or a commute on public transport. Either way, you’re going to need to be able to stay productive when you’re offline.
Thankfully, Chrome makes going offline easy for you. In an effort to ensure all Chromebooks are useful even when offline, Google has essentially made sure that all people using the Chrome Browser can remain productive when offline. And this is good for a student who is often out and about.
Most of the best office, productivity and reading extensions are still usable offline, which means you can stay productive at any time, anywhere.
If you use Google Drive, head to the settings in the Drive web app and check the box to sync your documents for offline editing. This will also install the Google Drive extension to Chrome and ensure you’ve always got access to your files, and can keep working on your assignments regardless of Internet access.
Check out the Chrome Web Store for the full selection of offline-enabled apps and extensions. There’s a checkbox to filter for those that run offline.
Develop a System for Your Bookmarks
Most people are pretty disorganized when it comes to bookmarks, but it will be of great benefit to you if you actually make an effort to create some sort of system for your bookmarking. And while some people swear by not bookmarking sites any more, in Chrome a bookmarked site will be one of the top options in the omnibar or your search results if you use the Chrome app launcher to search on your Chromebook.
So, for instance, you can bookmark that awkward URL for your online course login page, rather than navigating to the main site and clicking through every time to find the login page. The next time you start typing in the course domain you’ll see the actual URL you want in the omnibar list and can click on it.
My own tactic is to use the bookmarks bar as a launcher for all my favorite web apps, by simply bookmarking the site and editing the bookmark to remove the name, so it’s just the favicon showing. The rest of my bookmarks are in folders and sub-folders, with the top-level folders well chosen so I can separate work from play and easily find whatever I need.
More Advice For Students
What else do you set up in your browser for school? Tell us!