If you’re a college student, and you have a Chromebook, you probably want to know what are the best apps you can get so you can boost your productivity, prepare for exams, and ace your classes.
Well, you’ve come to the right place. Heh.
I’ve compiled a list of 14 the best and free Chromebook apps for college students that you can pick and choose to add to your laptop depending on which ones you need- pretty much the essentials.
Then, I’ll give you a list of some awesome apps that any college student could take advantage of. They may not all apply to your studying or productivity flow, but you can pick out whatever suits your needs and grab them on your laptop.
All of these apps are free to use, and some have an upgrade plan if you like it enough.
They should all (somewhat) help you boost your productivity and get those straight-A’s you crave (right?).
Let’s get started. Shall we?
Last updated: 7/16/17. I’ll keep this list updated so you get the newest apps to keep you (somewhat) at peak productivity.
The best essential Chromebook apps for college students
App #1: Google Docs
This is the one essential bare-bones app that you’ll need if you’re in college. I use it daily to take notes, jot down ideas, and get things done.
If you’ve never used Google Docs, it’s pretty much Google’s version of Microsoft Word. It’s a minimalist web-based version that has all the features you need. It works pretty much the same way. The best part? It saves literally within seconds, so you never lose your work. As you type, Docs constantly saves your work to your Drive account. So, if you’re in class and you’re rushing to finish up typing up some notes from a professor that talks too fast, you can easily type it into Docs and close your Chromebook. It’ll save nearly instantly.
This means you can literally type whatever you want, in mid-thought, and Docs will save your work as you type.
It’s also integrated nicely with Google’s cloud service- Google Drive. You can access your documents anywhere with an Internet connection. Just log in to your Google Account and you’ll have full access t your notes, to-do list, ideas, journal, diary, or whatever else is important to you.
The interface is also very sleek and intuitive. All your icons, buttons, formatting and everything else you frequently use are right there. No more hunting through menus and stuff to insert a table. It’s all easy to access with Docs.
You can also share documents and collaborate with other students all on the same page.
Pros: Easy to use, saves instantly, fast, free, collaboration functions.
Cons: Doesn’t integrate with Microsoft Word, lacks some features.
Check out Google Docs.
App #2: Google Slides
This is again, Google’s version of Microsoft PowerPoint. It lets you create slides and presentations just like PowerPoint does, and it just works.
I’m not really a PowerPoint user, nor do I use Slides that often, but if your class requires presentations this is a perfect alternative to PowerPoint.
You can create slideshows just as you could with PowerPoint. You have all the essential actions minus the clutter. The layout is intuitive and easy to use.
All your work is saved to the cloud for easy access. And all your work is saved instantly.
Pros: Minimalist design, free, saves your work instantly.
Cons: Takes a little getting used to if you’re used to PowerPoint.
Get Google Slides.
App #3: Google Sheets
And lastly, we have the third component of the Google Suite- Google Sheets.
This is Google’s version of Microsoft Excel, and it works almost exactly the same. There aren’t as many features, but everything you need is there.
They cut out all the unnecessary clutter and useless functions that aren’t so popular in Excel. Again, everything you do is saved in the cloud so you can’t really lose your work. Most of the functions work exactly the same as Excel, so there’s a very small learning curve- if any. It’s pretty intuitive and you’ll feel right at home.
The functions are easier to use than ever. A lot of them are already pre-programmed for you and Google makes it very intuitive to program new ones. For instance, instead of typing out a formula, you can easily use your mouse to click, drag, or otherwise tell Sheets exactly what you want to do. And it’ll know. It’s genius.
I use it to take notes, as that’s what it excels at. You can, of course, type up documents with Docs. It also has the ability to save documents that integrate with Word, as well as open .doc or .docx documents. If you’ve been using Word, you’ll notice it has a lot less clutter compared to it. It also loads faster and has a more intuitive design. No more looking through menus for how to change margins. Woot.
Pros: Less clutter than Excel, free, saves instantly.
Cons: Menus and layouts are different than Excel so you may have to learn how to use Sheets (slight learning curve)
Get Google Sheets.
App #4: Evernote
Evernote is probably the world’s most popular note-taking app and is highly recommended by reviewers on the Chrome web store.
Personally, I use it on my smartphone more than my Chromebook, but I find it to be useful especially with the syncing. I often have ideas pop up or reminders that I suddenly remember, so I whip out my phone and type them in. Later, I can open up my Chromebook and get my notes right there.
Evernote is also awesome because you can clip pretty much everything off the Internet and have it saved to the app. You can clip articles (like this one), images, videos, and even citations. Evernote lets you organize them into notebooks and lets you easily search them (and search for text within images too).
You can do everything from writing with your finger, making to-do lists, using your voice, collaborating with peers, and even setting reminders.
Evernote syncs across all your devices so you always have access to your notes on your desktop, tablet, phone, or laptop. All you need is an Internet connection.
There are a lot of note-taking apps for Chromebooks, but Evernote ranks out to be one of the best. The features Evernote has are advanced enough to handle note-taking for any student for any class. If you wanted to save nearly everything you can see, Evernote is the app for it. And in college, you need it when you snap an image of the whiteboard on your phone.
If you’re just taking notes for class, I’d suggest Evernote over Google Docs, as it has a lot better indexing so searching for something you saved is a lot easier and faster. Google Docs is more for taking notes while you’re in class. Evernote is for everything else.
Pros: Save everything, easy to use, search everything, free, syncs across devices, one of the best apps for taking notes on Chrome OS.
Cons: Requires premium upgrade for more features, file organization could use work.
App #5: Google Play Books
Google Books is your basic e-book reader that lets you read any book in most formats on your Chromebook.
It also syncs across all your Chrome-powered devices so you can continue reading on your Windows or Mac or smartphone. You can load up and read books even when you’re not connected to the Internet, which is a feature that’s awesome if you’re studying for a midterm or final and you’re reading something online. Just save it to Google Play Books and read it even if the site goes down or you move around to an area without an Internet connection.
You can change the font, layout, and even write notes to yourself within the book. You can highlight words, define them, or even translate them. This works to your advantage as it’s easy to use without all the fluff.
Google Play Books is also a library, so you can download free ebooks or buy them, just like Amazon’s Kindle marketplace. For a college student, Google Books is amazing for studying as it lets you continue where you left off instantly and works anywhere.
Pros: Free, search within text, bookmarks, notes
Cons: If you’re using it just to read books, the marketplace is useless.
App #6: Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is basically Google’s version of Skype. You can run it right in your browser for when you need to get together for collaborations and discuss projects with your classmates.
It works just like Skype, complete with chat and video calling. You can easily have group discussions to talk about projects, assignments, etc. It runs right in your browser on your Chromebook and you can connect with people on any Chrome-powered device. It works pretty much the same as Skype in functions and quality but doesn’t allow any integration or communication with Skype users. You need to have both parties have a Google account connected to the call.
What’s awesome about Hangouts is that it’s much easier to get into a video call or audio call. You just need to log into your Google Account, send an invite to someone’s email, and they’re connected.
From there you can do everything you want- video chat, audio chat, type messages, group chat, send messages, share screens, send files, and a lot more. It’s free to use and super easy to set up.
If you need an alternative to Skype or just need a way to video or audio call someone using Chrome OS, Google Hangouts is the platform you want. It’s nearly universal and works as long as both members have a Google Account with an Internet connection.
(Still want to use Skype? I have a complete guide on that.)
Pros: Video chat, voice chat, or text chat all work well, free, easy to use.
Cons: No Skype contact integrations, slight learning curve.
Get Google Hangouts.
App #7: Wunderlist
Wunderlist is an app that every college student should grab. It’s basically the easiest to-do organizer list to use.
It has an intuitive design to make it easy to create lists. It also syncs across all your devices in real-time, so there’s no delay between switching devices on the go. You can also collaborate with other students and share to-do lists, so if you have a project and want to divide up the tasks amongst your classmates, it’s done in a cinch.
(Don’t want to type? Check out the best handwriting apps for Chromebooks.)
You can also add comments to collaboration projects, which is something that’s extremely useful. Say if you only get half of a task done and your group is depending on you, you can easily add a comment that you won’t’ get it done so someone else can take over (if they’re nice enough). This was actually a premium feature before, but now Wunderlist has made it free for everyone.
You can create an unlimited number of lists in the free version, and it works on all your devices. You can set reminders, checklists, shopping lists, errands, and more. You can also attach images, PDFs, presentations, and more to each list. You can even use your voice to dictate lists.
Wunderlist works as a to-do list organizer and maker, and you can even use drag and drop functionality to organize it even more. It’s a must for every college student with a hectic schedule.
This app will organize your daily tasks much better than writing it down. For some, I get that writing it down gives you the luxury of crossing it off when you complete a task. You can do the same with Wunderlist as well, although not the same feeling.
I know that some of you prefer writing. Personally, I can do both. I just prefer using a digital list because then I can easily change it without making a mess all over the paper by crossing or scribbling stuff out. It’s good for those who have hectic schedules.
Pros: Free, easy to use, to-do list king.
Cons: Paid premium service, search function could use improvement.
Other honorable app mentions just for college students
These apps aren’t essential but may prove to be helpful. You can pick and choose them to your liking, depending on what classes you’re taking and how your productivity flow is like.
These were chosen from personal experience along with input from friends and colleagues. Surprisingly, when I asked around I found out that I was already using a few of these myself (like Mint).
They’re awesome apps that are definitely worth considering and checking out.
App #8: Mint
Mint is basically a money management app which keeps track of your spending.
It allows you create a personalized budget and helps you meet those goals, as well as send reminders of upcoming payments and bills. It’ll keep track of every single expense and income you report so you know exactly how you’re spending your hard-earned cash.
You can set your goals to exactly how you want and it’ll help you achieve them.
You can access it on your Chromebook or any mobile device. This is useful if you’re making payments on your dorm, food, books, classes, or whatever else you spend money on. Mint will track it and show you charts and details about your spending so you can meet your goals.
App #9: EasyBib
EasyBib makes citations simple. You may have already heard of this before, but didn’t know they had an app for Chromebooks.
If you haven’t, it basically lets you type in citations and it formats them automatically for you. If you’re lazy to look up how to format in whatever style you want, such as MLA, APA, Chicago, or Harvard.
App# 10: StudyStack
StudyStack is an app that lets you create your own flashcards, crosswords, and other methods for rote memorization to learn terms, words, or whatever you need to memorize.
You can also participate in discussions with a community in different categories to help your studying. It’s basically a virtual flashcard generator with a community.
App #11: Desmos Graphing Calculator
This is basically an online graphing calculator that lets you plot lines, tables, functions, and more which is perfect for calculus, statistics, or physics. Nothing special, but gets the job done when you need it.
App #12: Stayfocusd
Nowadays, it’s all about eliminating distractions and keeping a minimalist study workload. Stayfocusd is a tool that lets you focus on what needs to be done and get rid of distractions.
It’ll literally outright block websites that you designate and state is a time-waster for you so that you can’t go on them until the next day.
It may seem extreme, but it works if you really can’t get anything done on your computer or laptop. You can also get it for your phone to eliminate distractions if you have information addiction.
This app really does work and keeps you busy by reminding you to stop wasting time.
App #13: Simple Pomodoro
Simple Pomodoro is a timer that breaks your workload into easy-to-digest chunks.
It’s been proven that you can get more done with smaller blocks of focused work, then a break, then repeating the pattern. This timer will let you set your blocks, or use the default, and then alert you when it’s time to work or take a break. Have a big project? Simple Pomodoro is perfect.
Get Simple Pomodoro.
App #14: Novoresume
Novoresume is a resume/CV builder that lets you build the perfect resume.
You can easily insert your information in a template and customize everything if you’d like- such as fonts, colors, themes, and layouts.
After you create your resume or CV, you can download it as a PDF to keep it professional and email it or send it to wherever you’re applying to. Novoresume makes it easy because they provide all the templates for you so you don’t need to worry about formatting and whatnot.
It’s like a template with pre-formatting so you can just punch them out and send them quickly without having to create it over and over from scratch.
Did you find your new favorite(s)?
Well, that’s about it.
With this list of Chromebook apps, you’re sure to find something to help you out in college, as all of these apps are perfect for college students. Go ahead and pick and choose which ones you want and add them to your Chromebook.
Try them out and see how you like them. Surely there’s something that you didn’t already know about.
Do you have any awesome apps perfect for college students? Go ahead and comment and I’ll add them to the list.