So, you just got a Chromebook and now you want to deck it out with only the best Chromebook apps.
Or maybe you’ve had a Chromebook for a while and now you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.
Either way, I put together this list here at Platypus Platypus of the Chromebook apps that I personally use daily, and that I’ve found to be extremely useful and offer a boost in functionality for your Chromebook and make it do more than you thought possible.
I learn more and more and continue to be impressed by the power of Chromebooks over and over.
Let’s see if they can help you out!
Last updated: 1/26/21.
Choosing the best Chrome apps
I know that you and I are different, so we may not like the same apps.
However, the Chromebook apps I’ve included in this list are apps that I’ve found to be popular and can be used by the majority of Chromebook fanatics. Most of these apps are for productivity, and some are for entertainment.
While most of these apps are free, there are some that offer an upgraded version for a subscription price.
Note that with the Google Play store coming to Chromebooks, you’ll have millions of more apps to choose from, more than what the Chrome web store offers. So, this list is exclusive to what you can get from the Chrome web store. I’m excited about the Google Play integration.
So, here are the 9 best Chromebook apps that I (personally) use.
Update: In 2019, newer Chromebooks have the Google Play Store built-in, which means you have a full library of apps across Chrome and Android. Feel free to suggest Play Store apps that are must-have for any Chromebook user in the comments section!
Update: Even in 2020, these apps STILL prove to be very useful. Although I’ve found some alternatives or learned to live without a few, I’ve adjusted to list to reflect that.
Best Chromebook App 1: VLC for Chrome
What it does: VLC is an open-source media player that plays nearly every file in existence- from MP3 to AVI to even FLAC and MKV. ISOs can also be played, as well as images, FLVs, and even DVDs.
If you have any media on your Chromebook, this is the best Chromebook app to play it with, no matter what type of file type it is. You can use VLC for just about anything you can make or download from the ‘net. It’s versatile, handy, and fast. A full media suite for your Chromebook.
Why you need it: It offers a much more expansive multimedia experience than the built-in media player within Chrome OS.
It also has tons of settings, effects, and file management features all for free. It’s lightweight and completely free to use.
For Linux users, you can download VLC (and many other media players) directly onto your Chromebook. Check out some of the best alternative media players you can get.
You can check it out here.
Best Chromebook App 2: CloudMagic
What it does: CloudMagic is basically an email management platform. If you have a lot of email accounts, it puts them all into a single account and allows you to receive and send mail from that single account.
And yes, you can reply to emails using the same email that received the email, so it won’t confuse your receiver. This is probably one of the best email apps for Chromebook I’ve used.
Why you need it: If you have tons of emails, this will save you a ton of energy. It works with Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, Outlook, Exchange, and much more.
You can view everything in one place and get your emails done in a pinch. It even integrates with popular tools, such as Evernote.
Update: CloudMagic has been replaced by Newton Mail, which is the same company. Same functionality and works decently. However, this hasn’t been updated in some time though and I’m still running the old version. If you need something like Thunderbird to get all your emails in one place, you can check out Newton Mail here.
Beet Chromebook App 3: Pushbullet
What it does: Pushbullet is an app that brings all your stuff into one place. That’s pretty much as simple as I can put it.
It’s like a harvester for your notifications, content, links, and messages and gathers them from your tablets, phones, laptops, desktops, and whatever device you may have.
It brings all your stuff into a single place on your Chromebook, so you don’t have to check messages on your phone, then look at saved content on your desktop, then look for that picture you saved on your netbook. It’s literally like a cloud service for your notifications.
Why you need it: If you have a ton of devices, this is a no-brainer. Get all your notifications and messages on your Chromebook, as well as access your docs and media from one place
I use this daily and have no need to access my phone to respond to a text. I just do it via Chrome OS. how awesome is that?
Grab PushBullet for your Chromebook here.
Update: This is still super useful even in 2020 and I thought I’d just leave this small tidbit of information: Pushbullet now has over 1M users on Chrome with a near 5-star rating.
Best Chromebook App 4: Overdrive
What it does: Overdrive is basically an overpowered ebook reader.
It boasts more than 30,000 libraries which you can access worldwide, and lets you borrow ebooks from these libraries. You’re probably thinking “why would I need to borrow books virtually?” I thought the same thing, until I used the app.
It has a ton of books which you can read for FREE. You can create holds, wishlists, and “return” book with a single click. It also lets you sync your library, bookmarks, and read positions (where you left off) across your Chromebook, phone, or tablet. It also has a reader feature so it read your books for you (audiobook).
It’s quite comparable to Audible by Amazon, but it syncs and works perfectly for your Chromebook.
Personally, I found there to be a lot less low-quality ebook on Overdrive than Audible and the Amazon marketplace. Your Chromebook is an amazing machine for reading books, believe it or not. Chromebooks are fast and lightweight, so you can make it like a portable ebook reader with laptop functionality. You won’t know until you try it. There are tons of other things a Chromebook can do.
Why you need it: If you read, this is a no-brainer. It’s the best ebook reader and ebook library I’ve used so far.
Check out OverDrive.
Best Chromebook App 5: Evernote
What it does: OK, chances are you’ve already heard of Evernote (or maybe you’re already using it). If you haven’t used it before, Evernote is basically one of the best cloud-based note-taking apps.
Yes, I know that note-taking is supposed to be simple. You make a list. You make bullet points. You cross stuff off. What Evernote does it makes it faster and simpler to take notes and stay organized.
If you’re one of those people that have a ton of virtual sticky notes on your computer, you need Evernote. You can organize your notes into searchable notebooks. You can clip anything from the web and save it. You can speak your notes and transcribe them into text. You can take a picture with your phone and make the text searchable.
All this is stored in the cloud, so you can access it from your Chromebook after taking the note with your phone, or another device. One of the best Chromebook apps overall.
Why you need it: Note-taking is different for everyone, but I’ve found Evernote to offer the best functionality and ease-of-use compared to other note apps I’ve tried.
I mainly use it on the Chromebook and my Windows-based PC. My notes consist of research notes and web clips I’ve found from around the web. I clip stuff, save them into notebooks, and then search for them when I need it. Of course, your use will be different.
I’ve found Evernote to be extremely versatile and can be used for a variety of uses- projects, to-do lists, image galleries, video galleries, or even just a list of the funniest cat pictures you’ve found. It’s free to use and offers a premium version as well.
However, you can do the majority of tasks with just the free version. If you like it enough, and you probably will, you can upgrade for a decent price.
See Evernote here.
This is super handy for collaborative groupwork, as many people in a WFH environment now need for their employer. Work together on a common goal, checklists, to do lists, slideshows, delegate tasks, etc.
Best Chromebook App 5: Pixlr Touchup
What it does: Pixlr Touchup is made by Autodesk and it’s basically a minimalist, lightweight photo editor that offers a lot of features for basic to moderate tweaking for your pictures.
You can crop, rotate, resize, recolor, adjust contrast, enhance, and add an assortment of filters just like Instagram. You can go back and forward as well, which I found to be very convenient when you mess up on a photo.
After you’re done, you can save it to Google Drive or your Chromebook. Or you can just upload to your social networks. Chrome OS does have a native image editor.
Why you need it: The built-in image editors on Chromebooks is decent, but when you need a little more functionality, Pixlr Touchup is a perfect choice. It’s fast and quick, so when you need to edit an image on your Chromebook quickly, you can do it in a snap.
Check out Pixlr Touchup.
Are you photo editor or graphic artist? Check out some of the best image editors for Chromebooks.
People work from home now. Students are learning remotely as well. This makes editing photos quick and easy. No downloads needed because it works in Chrome.
Best Chromebook App 6: Pocket
What it does: Pocket is like a bookmarking service for websites. It saves articles, videos, and pictures that you find online for offline viewing.
If you’re browsing an article and you need to go, you can “pocket it” and it’ll save it for later. Whether you have an internet connection or not, Pocket will keep your stuff for reading. So if you’re reading something at home, but you need to go to work. Just save it and you can read it later. You can also search, tag, archive, and change the font of the article.
Why you need it: It’s very convenient if you’re reading a long article, or you need to work in an area without WiFi. I use it mainly for research projects on-the-go.
View Pocket’s homepage.
Save resources from anywhere online for later reading. Good for students who are taking online classes and doing report papers- you can save references for your works cited page.
Best Chromebook App 7: Gmail Offline
What it does: If you have a Chromebook, chances are you use Gmail. With Gmail offline, you can read and reply to emails offline.
How this works is simple. When you have an Internet connection, Gmail will download all your emails to make it readable even when your Chromebook is offline. Gmail Offline allows you to read this read-only version and reply to them just as if you were online, except your emails will be “pending.”
When you get connected again, all your pending emails will be sent. There are also some other offline apps that you can use on your Chromebook when you have no Internet connection.
Why you need it: Although I rarely have no connection, I use Gmail Offline when I’m on the bus or at work. I download a new set of emails daily and I can reply to them on the bus. At work, I have a connection so all those emails get sent.
If you want to get work done, or you don’t have always have a connection, get Gmail Offline for that added convenience.
Get Gmail Offline.
Update: The Gmail Offline app has been retired by Google. The feature is now actually built-in directly to Gmail.
You can enable Gmail Offline by doing the following:
- Sign in to Gmail.
- Click on “Settings.”
- Click on “Offline.”
- Enable the “offline” feature.
Gmail will then save your emails for offline viewing and sending. When you get online again, all your emails will send off!
Best Chromebook App 8: Trello
What it does: Trello is another note-taking app similar to Evernote, but it works with these side-by-side panels filled with “cards.” You can jot down anything from tasks, ideas, projects, links, videos, media, pictures, and more.
You can label each panel whatever you want, so you can have a “to-do panel,” then a “priority panel,” then a “low-priority panel,” an “in progress panel,” and then a “completed panel.” All of these panels are shareable with other users, and they can comment on them or tasks can be assigned.
Why you need it: If you work on collaborative projects, I found this to be much more convenient to use compared to Evernote.
This also has a nice layout where you can scroll horizontally and see everything at once. I find myself using this over Evernote for daily tasks, and Evernote for web clipping and research.
Check out Trello.
Best Chromebook App 9: Weatherbug
What it does: You’ve probably heard about Weatherbug, as they’ve been preinstalled on many Windows-based machines for a while.
They used to have a bad reputation, but they’ve improved the service and now offer a premium version as well. They’ve turned a new leaf based on consumer opinions about the service- going from spam to gold. WeatherBug provides accurate information that you’d expect from a weather app, such as temperature, predictions, rain, and forecasts.
You also get some nice nifty features such as weather alerts, interactive maps, multiple locations, and weather cams for a variety of locations.
Why you need it: I use this instead of searching for weather reports on Google because it’s much more detailed and I found it to be more accurate.
The weather cams are also pretty interesting to look at. You can see piers, beaches, streets, houses, and other popular locations. For some, I understand that you may not care about the weather. But for me, I travel a lot, so knowing the weather is pretty important for packing the right gear. If you don’t need a weather app, you can simply press the Search key on your Chromebook’s keyboard and just type weather.
Google will return search results for the weather in your local area, provided that you allow geolocation, and you won’t need Weatherbug.
If you do though, it’s probably one of the best weather apps for Chromebook I’ve seen. The only other contenders don’t offer as much detail as Weatherbug, and don’t have the functionality. The cams are always fun to watch, and the weather reports are accurate.
BONUS: Best Chromebook App 10: Arcane Legends
What it does: This one’s for gamers- it’s an extremely addicting MMORPG for Chrome OS. I don’t usually play games, let alone on my Chromebook, but I found it to be very fun and addicting.
It runs right in the browser and is free to play, but with a premium pay-to-play model as well. The game has a decent storyline and a huge playerbase. It also has an auction house, friends list, guilds, party system, and plenty of dungeons to explore. I can’t stop playing it. I’m almost as addicted to it as I am to Minecraft. And yes, you can play Minecraft on your Chromebook.
Why you (might) need it: You probably don’t. I know many of you don’t play games, but for those who like MMORPGs, I recommend Arcane Legends. It’s completely browser-based so you have nothing to download.
Did you find your new favorite apps?
Well, there you have it.
This lists my top 9 best Chromebook apps that I’ve personally found to be most helpful and offer more functionality out of my Chromebook. This list is in no way a community list, but rather a list based on my experiences and Chromebooks apps that I’ve used.
I’ve made sure all these apps are somewhat popular so that the developers continue to update the apps since they have a large audience (although this isn’t always the case). Hopefully, you’ve found some apps for your Chromebook in this list that you haven’t heard about yet, and that you’ve decided to try out.
With Chromebooks being an easily customizable machine, and because we all have different uses for our Chromebooks, there is no list of Chromebook apps that can satisfy everyone.
If you have any other awesome Chromebook apps that you’ve found to be the best in its class, suggest them below in the comments and I’ll add them to this list. Remember, please try to add only the best Chromebook apps you’ve found.
Apps that are not updated, low-quality, or too specific may not be in the interest of the general population (although some of mine are like that). Try to include only apps that are somewhat popular.
What are the best Chromebook apps you’ve discovered?