The Electric Educator: 5 Chrome Settings that will Make Teachers Smile

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

5 Chrome Settings that will Make Teachers Smile

Google Chrome has been my browser of choice since it was launched in 2008. Chrome redefined the browsing experience for users and continues to do so today. Many new features in Explorer, Safari, and Firefox are responses to Google Chrome.

Chrome is an awesome browser for the classroom. Here are my five favorite "tricks" for getting more out of Chrome. These tips do not require any special plugins, extensions, or applications. They are available for anyone running Chrome OS or the Chrome browser for Windows or Mac. 

To enable any of these features, click on the "hamburger" (the three horizontal lines in the top right corner of your Chrome browser window) and follow the instructions.

1. Launch Tabs on Startup Most of us spend the majority of our time on the Internet on the same 3-5 websites. For me, it's Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar - my productivity essentials.
You can ask Google chrome to automatically load your favorite websites each time you start

Chrome. No need to manually visit these pages. Open Chrome and you're ready to go! To enable this feature: Settings > Show Advanced Settings > On Startup

Tip 1: Don't auto-load too many pages! I recommend you keep it at three or less!

Tip 2: If you use Chromebooks in your classroom with students, you can set which pages load when a student logs on to their Chromebook. This feature is controlled from within the Google Apps dashboard so you'll want to make your IT director a pan of brownies and ask him to turn it on.

2. Bookmark Sync
Teacher love bookmarking pages. Now you can synchronize your bookmarks across Chrome! You can use Chrome on your PC, Mac, Chromebook, iPhone or Android tablet. As long as you sign in to chrome, your book marks will be there when you need them!

You must sign in to Chrome to enable this feature: Settings > Sign in to Chrome. Make sure you check the box for "bookmarks". You can adjust your Chrome sync settings at any time by going to Settings > Users > Advance Sync Settings

3. Tab Sync
Have you ever pulled up a web page on your home computer, gone in to the office and wished you could remember the web address of the page back at home? With tab sync, you can view any open tab on any of your devices and open them with a single click. Pull up a map on your laptop, jump in the car and open up the map on your phone!

You must sign in to Chrome to enable this feature: Settings > Sign in to Chrome. Make sure you check the box for "open tabs". You must repeat these steps on every device you wish to use the tab sync feature. 

After enabling tab sync, when you open a new tab in Chrome, you will see an option for "other devices" where all of your open tabs will be displayed. The screen shot below is from an iPhone, showing tabs on several other devices.

4. Zoom
The ability to zoom in on a specific part of your screen is really helpful when instructing students. Using the + / - buttons is okay, but presents some problems. For years, I have appreciated the Mac OS feature that zooms in wherever my mouse pointer is. Now that feature is available for your Chromebook as well!

To enable this feature, visit Chrome settings and search for "accessibility"
To enable this feature, access chrome settings and search for "accessibility". You will want to enable "screen zoom" and "keep magnifier focused on center of screen." To use this feature, hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys and slide two fingers forward / back on your track pad.

5. Settings Search
Do you need to reset your pass-phrase, adjust your trackpad sensitivity or delete an extension? Don't worry about remember where that button is, just search for it! Chrome user settings can be quickly searched. It makes adjusting settings super easy!

Nothing to enable here! Just go into settings and look for the search box! 

Every month I send out an email newsletter highlighting ideas, updates, and new Apps and Extensions for Chromebooks. If this sounds like something you would appreciate, you can sign up here!


  1. Hello John Sowash! I found your blog post very informative. I am currently an elementary education major at the University of South Alabama. This semester I am enrolled in EDM 310; which is a class specifically for blogging and using technology in the classroom.

    Our class uses Google everything. Google Drive, Docs, Blogger, G-Mail, YouTube, and just about every other application Google offers. As a full time student, I am constantly looking for insight and ways to improve my technological skills. This post gave me great insight into improving my experience with Google. Your instructions were very clear and took me step by step with ease. I installed and changed all the subject you covered in this post.

    In this day and age, everyone has either a tablet or a smartphone. Because Google is my number one Internet Engine, I want my start up be Google! The comment about setting up the homepage was useful because I was actually trying to figure out that setting. Also, I was very glad to see that if I'm working on my blog from my laptop, I can easily switch to my hand held device. Google comes standard with my phone, so changing these setting were pain free.

    Another setting I will now take advantage of is the Bookmark sync. As a future educator, I am constantly finding new sites on the internet that I want to keep track of. Now I know that anything I bookmark will automatically sync onto my phone so I can find it basically anytime I want. Syncing Google to my laptop and phone will surely make my EDM 310 experience better and help me propel my education as a future educator.

    Thank you!!

    Check out my blog throughout its journey!

    TWITTER: LBradleyEDM310

  2. Hi Lauren,

    Thanks for the comment. Best of luck on your journey through the realms of Educational Technology! Thanks for checking out my blog!

  3. Hi Mr. Sowash,
    My name is Keri Brown. I am a student at the University of South Alabama. My major is elementary education, and I am currently enrolled in the course EDM310. In this course we are focused on using technology in the classroom. We do a lot of work on blogs. We write our own blogs, comment on our classmates blogs, look at teachers blogs and make comments, as well as look at students blogs and make comments. I found your post to be very helpful to me because in this course we are using Google Chrome and Google Docs for almost everything we are doing. I will definitely keep all of these tips/tricks in mind. I am really glad to know about the first trick "Launch Tabs on Startup," because I visit the same websites almost every time I log in. Thank you for this wonderful post and the great tips. Please feel free to view my blog at any time and make comments.
    Keri Brown

  4. Hi! My name is Emma Boren, and I am currently a student at the University of South Alabama in EDM 310. I found your blog to be very helpful. We use google chrome for our main browser. I especially liked the Launch Tabs on Start up tip. Every time I get on google chrome, I use the same few things; our class blog, my blog, and google drive. It would be great for those to automatically open each time. Thank you for sharing these helpful hints with us! Feel free to go visit my blog if you would like! My Blog

  5. Mr. Sowash,

    Hello, my name is Lance Wilkinson. I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama.

    Chrome seems like a good browser. I really like that Chrome can be used on any device or operating system. A lot of people seem to agree that Chrome is a good browser.

    I like the suggestions you have given. A lot of these are useful shortcuts for Chrome users.


  6. Hey Mr. Sowash my name is Lucas Skinner and I am a student enrolled in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. Google Chrome is by far my favorite internet browser with its simple setup, unlimited customize options, and the cool little tricks like you explained in the blog. I actually never knew that you could tab sync between computers on chrome if you are signed in with the same chrome account. I also never knew about opening tabs on startup, it has made my studying and schoolwork go by so much quicker with my chrome opening up my schools website and my google drive at startup, being able to open said tabs on my iPhone then go to the library with my mac book and have the same tabs already opened up with tab sync. Thank you for these helpful tips an tricks!

  7. Hey Mr. Sowash my name is Lucas Skinner an I am enrolled in EDM 310 at the University Of South Alabama. Google Chrome is my favorite internet browser and I never knew about these tricks. My life has become so much easier even since I read your blog and learned about "Tab Sync" and "Open Tabs on Startup". These two tricks have helped me out very much with studying and doing other school work. Keep up the good work!

  8. Hi Mr. Sowash! Chrome is my main and pretty much my only browser. It is very reliable and proficient in its running. As I was reading your blog, I would never have known I could do all those things! As a future educator I am sure taking those steps will be beneficial to me and my future students. I will definitely have to put these steps to use, before I become an educator. Thank you and a job well done!


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