If you’re a new Chromebook owner or if you’ve been with yours for a while (yes, it’s a relationship), you’ll probably want the must have apps for Chromebooks.
I’ve been using mine for quite a while now.
I’ve been through dozens upon dozens of apps.
From the worst apps that you’ll uninstall after 5 seconds to the hidden gems that you don’t know how you’d live without, I’ve tried a lot of apps.
I use these apps very often (some I use daily) and I find them to be very handy- everything from speeding up Chrome OS to protecting privacy.
I know people from different lifestyles visit PlatypusPlatypus, so I tried to only include apps that would appeal to the general public.
If you own a Chromebook, you owe it to yourself to at least try these apps.
Without further ado, here’s my list of the top 10 must have Chromebook apps.
(If you’re a fan and you’ve been a reader for awhile, you may already know a few of these.)
Last updated: 1/12/21. Updated for 2021 with a bunch of handy, essential apps for new Chromebook owners.
Keeping this list updated for new apps!
Must Have App #1: Evernote
Okay, I’m pretty sure a lot of you may be turned off by this.
It’s currently used by over 4M productive users with a 5/5 rated based on over 133K reviews. Is that enough to convince you that it’s pretty handy?
And it even runs offline!
Update: As of Jan 2021, Evernote still tops the list of note-taking apps. Completely web-based and works across all your devices. Some competitors have popped up like Bear Notes and ClickUp, but EN still takes the crown for my daily tasks.
You’re probably thinking why would I need an app to take notes?
Well, Evernote does that, and a whole lot more. You can do things like clip anything you see on the Internet- pages, images, videos, graphs, charts, comics, websites, web pages, text, entire articles, e-books, or anything else you can imagine.
When you clip it, it saves into your Evernote account into an organized entry. You can group, sort, filter, and search these entries or even further organize them into Notebooks.
With more people now working at home and using their computers for everything, note-taking becomes imperative for jotting down tasks, to-dos, or even your things to do after your shift.
Evernote is the world’s most popular note-taking app
Evernote makes research and saving stuff from the web a lot easier. Instead of filling up your Downloads folder with all the cool stuff you find online, why not just save them into Evernote? You save space on your local disk and you’ll be a lot more organized.
It also syncs across all your devices, so you can literally save something on your Chromebook and pop it up on your phone for later viewing. For example, you’re reading an article that you’re super into but you need to go to work. Save it to Evernote. Bring it up on your phone in an instant instead of navigating to that article again. And that’s just one use of it. Do you see the utility? Evernote saves time.
It’s really one of those apps that you need to just play around with at first, but when you start incorporating it into your daily routine, you’ll see the power of it.
Update: This is still one of the best apps for research, brain mapping, notes, and personal/professional projects in 2020. Evernote is constantly updated with new features, such as mobile offline notes and even business card scanning. And it’s still free to download.
Must Have App #2: Grammarly
I’ve mentioned Grammarly several times already, but it’s only because it’s that good.
It’s used by over 10M typists worldwide and currently has a 4.5/5 star rating based on over 26K reviews. This is probably one of the most popular Chrome extensions on the entire Store!
Grammarly adds on to your browser and spell-checks your text. It does a lot more than that though. It checks for punctuation, tense, comma splices, capitalization, and even word context. And that’s not all.
It’s a very advanced spellchecker because it’ll pick up errors you’ve made in ways you didn’t think spell checkers could do.
For example, if you type “there is two dogs on the floor” in any basic checker like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, neither of them will pick it up as an error.
In fact, I’m typing this right now on Google Docs and I’m right- there’s absolutely no red squiggly line under it to show that there’s an error. (Grammarly doesn’t work for Docs yet, but it’s in progress, so that’s why I can’t use it as I’m typing this and that’s why I can give you that example.)
Spell-checking on steroids
But when I run this text through Grammarly, it’ll underline that phrase in red and show a card. The card will show you exactly what kind of error is present and it’ll give you suggestions to correct it, add it to your dictionary (for misspelled words), or ignore it.
It should then give a suggestion to correct it to “there are two dogs on the floor” (in fact, it just did).
Grammarly works nearly everywhere online. Forms, text fields, forums, Q&A sites, and even your email.
You don’t know how many times it’s caught a mistake in my draft emails that the Chrome Browser missed (with the spell checking option turned on). It saved me from making stupid spelling mistakes that would’ve made me sound like I’m drunk.
There’s also a premium version that unlocks a ton of extra features and advanced spell checking.
But honestly, the free version is good enough for the typical user. If you’re a professional, you may want to invest in Grammarly Premium. I suggest trying out the app by going free and upgrading if you like it enough no matter if you’re a professional or casual user. They have awesome sales all the time, so be on the lookout for them.
Grammarly is honestly one of the best spell check apps on Chrome OS. Try it out for yourself and see what errors it can catch.
Update: I still use Grammarly for the majority of my articles and personal projects. In fact, this very page was checked by the free version of Grammarly! I run my pages through multiple spellcheckers, and Grammarly continues to catch the most misspellings.
Must Have App #3: Honey
If you shop online, Honey is a must have app for your Chromebook.
Honey currently has over 5.6M online shoppers with a 5/5 star rating based on over 78K reviews.
You know how some websites have coupon or promo codes that you can enter at checkout? Instead of having to search for them, Honey will automate that process for you.
Honey is like an automatic coupon code searcher that will scour the web for codes. It applies them one-by-one to your order until one works and saves you money you would’ve wasted. If it weren’t for Honey, you have to search, copy and paste, and apply over and over until you found one that works.
Honey does it all in a single click.
It then tells you how much you saved with Honey.
Honey automatically saves you cash
So, add all your stuff to your cart. Go to the checkout page, and click the Honey button. It’s that easy and it’s completely free to use.
Honey works on a ton of popular websites (including Amazon) and will save you money. There’s no reason not to use it. You even earn points for regularly using it that gets you small rewards (gift cards) that you can use on Amazon.
How awesome is that? You’re being paid to save money.
I don’t shop online that often, but when I do, I found that about half the time Honey will sniff out a coupon code online. It even found codes for some stuff I didn’t even know there were codes for (and trust me, I’m a very thrifty shopper). This thing is just plain magic.
It’s rated nearly 5 out of 5 stars on the Chrome Web Store by thousands of users. This is the real deal. You have no excuse to not use it.
If you want a coupon code app, Honey will save you money. It works on Chrome OS and all other leading platforms.
Must Have App #4: Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is an app that’ll connect you to the best alternative to Skype (in my opinion).
It’s currently used by over 5M video chatters with a 4/5 star rating based on over 32K reviews.
If you’ve never heard of Hangouts, you probably don’t have a Google Account. The majority of people use Gmail. If you have Gmail, you have Hangouts.
Google Hangouts is a web-based video conferencing platform just like Skype. It lets you video chat, call, text, and do everything else you can do on Skype. It’s pretty much Google’s version of Skype.
It’s completely free to use and has a universal presence.
All you need to get connected with someone is their email or phone number. You set up a room, send them an invite, and they’ll join you in your chat room. From there, you can do whatever you want.
You set up a room, send them an invite, and they’ll join you in your chat room. From there, you can do whatever you want.
You can even group video call for business, gaming, or whatever else. There’s even a group chat option that houses over a hundred users simultaneously. That’s pretty impressive.
Good Skype alternative for Chrome
I find Hangouts to be a lot easier to use than Skype and it’s a lot more accessible. Not everyone has Skype (or uses it), but almost everyone has a Google Account. You can easily jump into a call right away with anyone.
The only gripe I have is that the call quality can get choppy sometimes. And the video can get blurry and lag. Besides that, it’s like a universal video calling platform that everyone has. I don’t mind giving up some quality for the ease of use and people will have no issue hopping into a chat with you since all they need is a Google Account.
“I don’t have Skype” or “I don’t use Skype” is no longer an issue that you have to deal with.
Your party doesn’t even need the Hangouts app to get started. You can easily just go to your Gmail inbox and look on the left-hand to start a call.
I just like using the app because it’s faster. You both don’t need the app. It doesn’t matter if one person has it and the other doesn’t, or if you both don’t have it. Any combination works. It’s very flexible. That’s why I like it.
In fact, I prefer it now over Skype. I think we’ve reached the point where a lot more people are willing to chat over Hangouts than Skype. It’s slowly becoming a serious player in the space.
Must Have App #5: Todoist
Todoist is a task management platform at its core. In other words, Todoist is a to-do…list.
It’s used by over 500K to-do’ists worldwide with a 4.5/5 star rating based on over 38K reviews.
Todoist is just an app I found to be useful to manage my daily and weekly tasks.
It’s like a virtual bulletin board for organizing everything
How it works is you organize all your projects, tasks, and whatever other things you need to get done in a list. From that list, you can assign sub-tasks that you need to get done in order to accomplish those tasks. These can be daily, weekly, or any other time frame you’d like.
For example, you could have a list like this:
- Buy groceries
- Write 1 chapter
- Proofread the previous chapter
- Scout for a publisher
- Schedule appointment
- Book room/flight
- Hire a consultant
- Check job posting for prospects
- Filter out bad ones
- Get gas
- Oil change
Okay, that’s a really bad list. But you get the idea.
I found that Todoist works best when you have a few projects going on simultaneously and you need to manage work for each of them. If you just have a single big project, it also works very well. Though it’ll probably be overkill.
But that’s how I use it. The app has a lot of other features that you may find very useful that I never considered using. You need to try it out for yourself. A few features really popped out and I could see how they could be useful for specific people or projects.
For instance, you can set recurring due dates, have sub-projects, set task priorities, save websites as a task (for easy reference), save ebooks and articles for later reading, and plenty more. The recurring dates is a pretty nifty feature. You can set reminders that you constantly want to be repeated instead of constantly setting them over and over.
Reminders, notifications, and everything in between
Todoist reminds you whenever you have a deadline coming up and it’ll also tell you exactly what you need to do that day (in that precise time frame). The app also praises that you can set intuitive dates in “everyday English” like 2PM tomorrow” rather than complicated binary language.
What’s also cool is that you can get notifications on your phone or email on the go. You can set reminders for anything. Groceries, tasks, errands, homework, dates, events, and even dinner. It’s convenient for reminding you of important or mundane tasks.
It’s very easy to use. The interface looks like just my Gmail inbox. You have all your projects on the left-hand side in a list and you have a task count for each one. Click on one to expand it and see everything in detail. It also has a “distraction-free design” to keep you productive.
Todoist works across 10 different platforms- everything from Chrome OS, Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Safari, Firefox, your email inbox, and on the web. You’re covered no matter what device you own. You can pull your list up in a snap and access it anywhere. It even works offline. It also syncs in real time when you’re online.
Helps you get stuff done
If you’re into collaborating, Todoist has those options. You can allow others to access your project, delete tasks, and discuss details across all platforms.
What I like best about it is that point system.
The platform will reward you for accomplishing tasks so it gamifies what you do. Gamification is a big thing on its own accord so I won’t go into detail here.
You can imagine that this has a direct effect on Todoist. You’ll be focused to complete your tasks to earn points. They don’t actually do anything, but they’re freakin’ points. You gotta get ’em.
Sure, it’s stupid and minuscule compared to the overall point of the app. But it really does work.
Anyway, if you just want a to-do list app, check out Todoist. It’s one of the best I’ve come across so far.
(Do you have a lot of notes to jot down? Check out this list of apps made just for taking notes.)
Must Have App #6: LastPass
LastPass is one of the most popular password managers on the planet.
It’s used by over 5.8M security-savvy users with a 4.5/5 star rating based on over 26K reviews.
You create a free account, set up your settings, and you’re done.
The next time you start logging into your favorite sites (or not so favorite- read: “work”), LastPass will remember it. It stores every single login credential into one super secure database. This means every single username and password you use for every single account is stored in one place. And that means you only have to remember one master password.
So, the next time you want to login to Gmail, Yahoo, Netflix, Skype, Pandora or whatever, you just type in your master password and you’ll log in. No more remembering individual passwords or usernames for each account on each website.
You can also add shopping profiles and credit cards for quick checkout so you don’t need to create an account at a new website you’ve never shopped at before.
Everything you save is searchable in your account. You can edit, view, delete, or add accounts to your LastPass account.
Never remember another password on Chrome again
LastPass uses very secure technology to keep your information safe. It’s used by millions of people and businesses around the world. Your account information is only known by you.
Your master password is never seen by anyone but you (even the folks over at LastPass). You can set multi-factor authentication to be even more secure.
It’s also completely free to use and works on any device via instant syncing. All you need is one LastPass account and you’re set.
What I like about it is that you can review your passwords in your account and randomly generate a secure password to replace weak ones.
I mean, it’s nice to have a password like “FJ*@#*F)H8131fh)#” because it’s safe, but are you really going type that in every time? Or memorize it? Or let alone write it down?
Generate secure passwords
The generator does it all for you. You can see the strength of it and generate a new one automatically. And it’ll remember it so you don’t have to. It even has a security check to flag weak passwords so you can replace them.
The interface is easy to use. It looks just like any Google Site with their awesome material design and has everything you need in a tidy menu. It’s easy to learn and even easier to manage and navigate.
It’s the best-rated password manager app for Chrome OS, and for good reason.
Try it out for yourself. Use some junk accounts if you’re paranoid.
Must Have App #7: Click and Clean
This app is similar to CCleaner if you’ve heard of it.
Click&Clean is used by over 3M people who want junk-free computers with a 5/5 star rating based on over 54K reviews.
It’s a completely free solution for your computer that does a lot of housekeeping tasks to keep your Chrome OS device running fast.
In a single click, you can do the following things:
- Delete your browsing history
- Delete your download history
- Remove cookies
- Empty the cache
- Delete temporary files
- Secure your privacy
- Delete traces of your online activity
- Free up disk space by deleting useless files
- Delete passwords
Click and Clean is completely customizable. You can choose exactly what you want it to do just by ticking checkboxes, or you can have it do everything. You can also even customize what web history you want it to delete- everything or select websites.
It also comes with other handy options like deleting history upon closing Chrome browser, clearing passwords, reload all tabs after cleaning, or even choosing which cookies to delete so you stay logged in. It uses third-party programs like CCleaner to remove junk files and boost your Chromebook’s performance.
Speeds up your Chromebook
I’m not even kidding. The customization settings for this app are crazy. You can have it set to do anything you want. If you’re not the technical type, you can use pre-configured settings as well.
I use this mainly to clean up Chrome to keep it speedy. Sure, you can go into the menu and delete your history every now and then. But using Click and Clean is a lot faster and you can do it all with one click. Plus I can choose to stay logged in to some websites so I don’t have to log in again. It’s super convenient and a real time saver.
Tip: If you don’t want your Chrome browser to keep a history of what you’re doing online for a temporary period, just use Incognito Mode by clicking on the menu button and opening an Incognito window.
The interface is also very sleek and easy to use. You’ll get the hang of it in a jiffy.
Must Have App #8: The Great Suspender
This is another awesome must have app for Chromebooks (or anyone that uses the Chrome browser).
It currently has over 1.1M users with a 4.5/5 star rating with over 3K reviews.
As you may know, the Chrome browser uses a lot of resources. A lot.
Compared to other browsers, Chrome hogs a lot of system resources for your benefit. Remember back then when one tab crashed, the whole browser would crash?
Chrome is a RAM hog
Well, Chrome fixes that issue by making each tab you open its own process entry. Therefore, each tab uses RAM and CPU.
When you have a lot of tabs all open simultaneously, it uses up valuable resources. If you’re not actually using each tab, then you’re just slowing down your Chromebook for no reason (or PC, Mac, or Linux device).
This is especially apparent on Chromebooks because the majority of them don’t have that much power under the hood.
They’re fast for everyday basic tasks (and some are built for even more powerful tasks), but when you overload them, they start to lag and stutter. If your Chromebook lags when you have the browser running, it could be because you have too many tabs open.
The Great Suspender will automatically suspend tabs that are inactive. This will free up system resources and give them back to you so your computer will run faster and more efficiently.
Free up system resources
You can easily reload the suspended tab when you need it. It’ll show a blank tab that gives you the option to click on it to launch it again.
You can also customize your settings to whitelist certain tabs that you never want to be suspended. You can set the suspend timer, whether or not to suspend pinned tabs, and even suspend all tabs or unsuspend all tabs at once. It goes even further to allow you to suspend tabs that have been viewed or don’t suspend tabs that are playing audio.
If you have a Chromebook, this is a must have app if you use a lot of tabs at the same time.
Actually, it doesn’t matter what you’re using. Windows, Mac, or Linux, they’re all able to benefit from the app. Why waste resources when you don’t have to? Speed up your computer by automatically closing tabs you’re not using. It’s awesome and works perfectly.
Tip: Be sure to add tabs that you need open to the whitelist. You don’t want to have a project that you’re working on suspended because you’ll have to refresh it and you’ll lose your work.
Must Have App #9: StayFocusd
StayFocusd is a productivity app for Chrome OS that basically aims to help you get stuff done by limiting all the time you waste on pointless things online.
It’s currently used b over 600K studious users with a 4.5/5 star rating based on over 6.6K reviews.
In other words, it’s a website blocker for useless websites that are time drains.
You boot up your Chromebook. You log in with excitement as you have your whole schedule planned out for the day- you’re going to get stuff done.
You think to yourself: “Oh, let me just check my email first to see what’s up. Then we’ll get started.”
That gets followed by: “Oh, let me see if Bob responded to my message for the meet up later. This is important.”
Afterward: “Oh, let me just watch this video Tiffany posted. I’ll get to work right after.”
Then: “Oh, let me see this one too. And this one. And that one. Oh look, Anthony’s messaging me. Let’s see what’s up.”
And before you know it, your whole day’s gone.
Get your time back
We’ve all been there. Or at least I know I have. If I didn’t waste so much time, I’d be able to write 3 articles a day.
Anyway, StayFocusd is here to put an end to wasting time online. Let’s explore how it works.
It comes preloaded with options. Lots of options. You install it and you’ll need to comb through all the settings to customize it to your liking.
How it works is that you set the amount of time you want to grant yourself for these useless websites. After time’s up, you can’t access those websites for the rest of the day.
You can block a variety of things. It’s fully customizable so you can block a whole site, a specific page, and even specific elements on that page (like videos or images). You can also set which sites you want to block and for how long. Or you can block all of them at the same time for a specific time period.
The app is really easy to use with humorous text in the options. You can also set active days, active hours, set allowed sites, set a challenge for yourself, view your statistics, and even import/export your settings for all your devices.
StayFocusd really does help with productivity.
You’ll be surprised when you look at your stats after using this app for a week. You can see how much time you’ve saved and potentially wasted without the app.
I found that wasted the most time on YouTube with staggering amounts. I limited my time for YouTube to just 1 hour per day. I got stuff done.
(If you’re looking to get things done, Momentum is another awesome productivity app for Chromebooks.)
I know you’re probably thinking that you have your browsing habits under control and you don’t need a website filter. But honestly, that’s what I thought as well. It’s only until you try it and see the stats. That’s when you’ll surprise yourself. Time really does add up.
Try StayFocusd now. I don’t care if you’re the best time management consultant in existence, this app will save you even more time. You need it. Get it now. Use it for a week. Look at your stats. Thank me later.
Must Have App #10: Privacy Badger
Did you know that by simply visiting a webpage, you get injected with ad trackers in your browser?
It’s currently used by over 590K users with a 4/5 star rating based on over 1.1K reviews.
It doesn’t matter which site you visit. The majority of sites online have ads on them, which in turn place trackers on your browser. It’s not usually controlled by the website owner, but rather the ad companies that advertise on the site.
Third-party trackers load invisibly when you browse the web and no notifications are shown to you.
Don’t get me wrong. Trackers are completely legal and many of the top ad companies (Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Bing) utilize this technology. The point of it isn’t to invade your privacy, but rather show relevant ads based on your interests.
This is why sometimes when you look up an item, say on Amazon, you’ll see ads for it on other sites you visit that have nothing to do with the item you looked up.
Safeguard your privacy on Chrome
For instance, you could be shopping for “skinny kayaks” on Amazon. Then, you’ll head on over to Facebook and see an ad for “skinny kayaks.” Trackers work like this and they’re necessary for the Internet to exist. They’re a part of the online ecosystem.
Then again, there are those of us who simply don’t want to be tracked. That’s where Privacy Badger comes into play.
It’s part of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and will completely block trackers automatically for every site you visit. It uses a complex algorithm to determine whether or not to block a tracker or cookie.
You can selectively allow certain cookies or trackers through and block the rest. It’s completely under your control.
Sometimes, it goes overboard and blocks something that makes the site unusable or breaks it. You can simply click the icon and allow it. Then reload the page.
You can also add pages or entire sites to your whitelist for sites that you visit often and trust.
It’s completely free to use and adds another layer of privacy for your browsing habits. Just install it and forget it. It does pretty much everything automatically.
There were a few times when sites wouldn’t load properly and I had to whitelist them, but it’s pretty rare. All the major sites are covered and work properly.
It’s an awesome little app that doesn’t require any setup to protect your privacy instantly. Just install it.
(Looking to stay anonymous online while using Chrome? Check out this list of free VPNs to protect your privacy online on Chrome.)
So, did you find anything useful?
And that’s the list.
I’m pretty sure you should be able to find something here that interests you or could help you out.
Whether you’re looking for something to boost your productivity, protect your privacy, speed up your Chromebook, perform video calls, or just spell-check your emails, these apps will help you out.
Again, I tried to only include apps that would appeal to the general public and everyone could benefit from. You should be able to utilize a few of these apps for your own benefit. Go ahead and install a few of them and try them out for yourself.
If you have any other awesome apps that you consider to be a “must have” app for Chromebooks, just leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list.
If you liked this list, consider telling a friend.
Thanks for reading.