Advice for moving from Windows to ChromeOS

I have decided to switch my daily driver machine from a Surface Pro 3 to a Chromebook. I don’t use the SP3 hardware to its fullest, and a Chromebook should easily replace it for my use case.

So I’m looking for tips/tricks/advice for actually executing the move from Windows to ChromeOS. What “gotchas” do I need to be aware of in the transition? I will still have a Windows desktop at home for gaming purposes, so tips for making sure the two get along will also be welcome.

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I made the switch earlier this year - it was actually pretty easy.

Before I pulled the trigger and bought my 1st Chrome OS device - I decided what I just HAD to have work in a Chromebook. One thing was a checkbook register program. I looked at several on my android phone, and finally found one I liked to replace Quicken. I tested on my phone first.

I now use Volkron Checkbook. I think I paid $2 to buy the full version. It is an Android program, but it works great on the Chromebook/Chromebox.

I also needed a Photoshop replacement. I tried several, including some that Leo has previously suggested. But, I found Pixlr Editor to be the best and closest to Photoshop.

That’s about it - search for whatever equivalent programs you need to have on the Chromebook. But, you WILL have to get used to not saving files on the computer. You use the cloud most of the time. You CAN save stuff to the device - but I only save apps and Chrome extensions on the internal SSD. You want to do this because if you need to do a powerwash, you will lose any files on the computer’s SD (hard drive).

If you don’t have any actual files on the device - IF you ever have a problem - just powerwash if need be. It will redo the OS, and you start up like you did when you first bought it. In the next 5-10 minutes, it will automatically download and install all the apps/extensions you had before. It does it automatically. In less than 10 min, everything will be done and you are good.

Now, I DO use the SD card as a small hard drive. I have a 128GB SD card in all 3 of my Chrome devices. I fill it with all my music, videos and lots of other files. THAT, you can use as a hard drive. And, if you powerwash the computer, it does not affect the files on the SD card.

Now, one tip - I keep my wallpaper and my profile icon saved on Google Drive. If you powerwash anything, you will have to redo the wallpaper and icon. So, it is helpful to have that on Google Drive, available for download if you need it.


I also found that I like the free MS Word online version. I tried the android version of Word, but I found that I like the online version more. And, everything gets saved onto their free cloud - Microsoft Onedrive. I also sometimes use Google Docs, now that I am getting more used to it. So, I actually use a combination of the two.

Only 2 things I need my Windows laptop for - To use Itunes for my Ipod. And, to use Turbotax 1x a year. I’d rather buy the disk and use the installed version over the web version. I like that it just pulls my info from last year’s Turbotax install, and it saves me from having to re-enter a lot of info.

If not for those 2 things, I would not even need a Windows PC.

I hope they eventually come up with a Chrome OS Itunes…

One last thing - as stated above - you just have to shift how you think of a computer - you have to get our of all the years of training from Windows. Chrome OS is ac tually very simple. It won’t take you long to get the hang of it!

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I agree with everything Shipwreck mentions here. I’m pushing my family to ChromeOS when it makes sense.

Two of them are having to deal with heavy printing and MS Office files for Orgs they volunteer for, and I can’t recommend them dropping windows for that purpose, but I do suggest it for their personal stuff.

Powerwashing. I love it. One of the two folks I mentioned above just bought a new HP Win10 laptop and I spent the better part of a day doing Windows updates over Teamviewer.

A low powered Chromebook, over a crappy internet connection downloaded and installed all my info and a few dozen Play Store apps in about 45 mins.

I picked up my new HP 360x today, and my internet was upgraded last week, so I’ll time how long it takes to bring it up to “done” and reply here. Much snow coming, so it might not be for a few days.

TDog :pirate_flag:


When I switched, it was easy, and I missed nothing. I stopped using Lightroom/Photoshop a couple of months before the switch. It was getting too expensive for me. The switch also gave me a reason to explore Linux apps on the Chromebook. It was a very positive move overall.
My only regret is the Chromebook I chose. The Pixel Slate is an excellent device, but I’m not able to use it to its full potential with Android Studio.


As a power user, I don’t see myself moving away from Windows on my desktop systems anytime soon. I really like Windows 10. I’m considering getting a new laptop in the coming months actually. Really impressed with the MacBook Pro 16 inch, but might have to save up for a while to afford it. Thinking about a Chromebook, but getting sick and tired of buying a “decent” Windows laptops for $1000 to $1500, only to have it give me grief after 2-3 years. I’m not hard on my laptop, so I don’t know what’s going on. Doubt having ChromeOS would make a difference when it’s the hardware giving me grief. Also, there are a few programs I’m not sure would work on ChromeOS. Will research that.

That said, I’m considering ChromeOS on a desktop system for Mom’s next computer in a couple of years.

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Well, laptops do not seem to last as long as desktops. Even Leo commented on that to someone who called in on The Tech Guy last week. I generally do not bring my laptops out of the house much, so the ones I’ve owned over the years have lasted quite some time.

But, they probably deal with heat more than a desktop. And, they can get bumped around as a person brings them from 1 place to another

As much time as I spend in chrome on my Window’s laptop, I really thought about getting a Chromebook, then work replaced our social media laptop with a Chromebook and I’ve decided that I just couldn’t do it. We have a premium Samsung Chromebook for use at work, and still just feels to limited to me.

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It really depends on what you do. Years ago, I could not have done it. But, I do not use certain programs or do certain things with Windows like I used to.

I just wish they made iTunes for Chrome.

But, the longer I use Chrome OS, the more I love it. It is much simpler, and I like the added protection.

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I have used a Chromebook as my main web surfing laptop around the house several years ago with an old 14" Celeron HP Chromebook. I went back to Windows for the ability to use Virtual Machines on it, but went back to a Chromebook, now my 3rd one, The 2.5 year old Windows machine got new life when I put Fedora Linux on it, still running VM’s, just a lot better. I do work things on the computer provided by work, and don’t cross the streams.

I have a company provided iPhone, but NEVER wish that anyone would make iTunes for any OS, even Apple is moving away from it.


I’m updating this post on my newly activated HP Chromebook.

From power up, installing 38 Google Play apps (including one new one given for purchasing a new chromebook) and one restart to update the OS…20 minutes exactly.

Guess my old internet connections was holding me back more than I expected.


Cool. I do not have quite so many apps, so it doesn’t take me as much time. But, that is a far cry from doing the same on a WIndows PC. That would take much, much, much longer…


I used to do a clean install of XP or Win7 every 18-24 months, create an image and restore from that every 6 months or when I hit a snag. It would always take a day to do a fresh install and an afternoon of updates to a restored image. Not to mention how easy Powerwash will be to explain to a family member over the phone,

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I moved my mother from Windows to ChromeOS over a year ago. I took the broken (software) All-In-One Windows machine and left her with my Toshiba Chromebook 2. I have walked her through (500 miles away) power off and power back on multiple times. It has always resolved things. So much better. She only uses Email and Facebook, so no loss of function.