Whether you’re looking for a cheap companion or just do not want to pay sky-high prices for a new Apple laptop right now, a Chromebook is an excellent option. With a fast, touch-friendly user interface and an airy, do-it-yourself attitude, a Chromebook is a great addition to any Apple fan’s device case, whether it’s their primary device or not.
The only problem: Chromebooks are much closer to a Windows PC than a Mac. From the experience to the interface, Chrome OS is clearly inspired by Windows, but it does not have to be that way. Google offers many customization options to get rid of your Chromebook with all the Windows influences.
Embrace the shelf
One of the most important things that separates macOS from Windows OS is the Dock. But the Chromebook has something similar called the shelf, which is the place to store frequently used apps and websites for easy launch. The shelf holds an unlimited number of apps ̵
To add apps to the shelf, just right-click on an icon and select Pin to Shelf. You can do the same to remove an app (Unpin), or you can drag it out and drop it somewhere on your desktop.
It’s a little different for web apps. Once you’re in Chrome and find a site you’d like to visit regularly (like iCloud below), go to the menu at the top right and select Create Shortcut. Then name it what you want and check the “Open as window” box if you want it to look like an app instead of a tab in Chrome.
Change the keys
They may not have a Windows key, but Chromebook keyboards are definitely PC-like, with Alt and Ctrl keys instead of Command and Option. But even if you do not want to be able to get the Bowen knot on the keyboard, you can rearrange your keys so that your fingers think it is there. Just go to the device setting and click on the keyboard tab to swap the Alt and Ctrl keys and get back some shine of normalcy.
Add iCloud to the Dock
If you’re looking for an extension or Play Store app that lets you access your iCloud account, you will not find one. But that doesn’t mean your iCloud account is locked out of your Chromebook. By logging in to iCloud.com via a web browser, you get access to Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Photos, Notes, Reminders and iCloud Drive, as well as Pages, Numbers, Keynote and Find My Apps. It’s not as seamless as it is on a Mac – you have to repeatedly log in and regularly verify your 2FA credentials – but it’s definitely better than not having it. And if you want it available with a click, just follow the instructions above to add a site to the Dock.
There are many differences between PCs and Macs, but the biggest one is trackpad scrolling. Ever since MacOS X Lion, Apple has switched scrolling to match iOS – swipe up and the content on the page moves in the same direction. It’s different on PCs, and if your Chromebook uses “natural” scrolling, you can change it the Mac way by enabling reverse scrolling in the trackpad settings.
Get a macOS wallpaper
Proper wallpaper can create or destroy a desktop. Your Chromebook comes with a lot of cool options, but if you really want to feel like a Mac, you need one of OS X’s iconic backgrounds. Fortunately, you can find them all at 512 pixels in brilliant 5K resolution – even Big Sur. Just download the one you want, save it in the Files app, find it, right-click and select Set as background.
Try a new theme
If the Chrome browser reminds you too much of a PC, there are endless possibilities to change it. Just go to Chrome Web Store and select Themes in the sidebar to browse the many options available to your Chrome browser. We like the Mac OS theme and Mac OS X Simple Theme for a sleek modern look, but you can go all the way back to Aqua if you want to be nostalgic.
Mac veterans all know how big Startly’s QuicKeys were for Mac OS X, and QuicKey for Chrome is a little bit of that nostalgia. You get an application switch, real-time search and a customizable keyboard, all without taking your fingers off the keyboard.
Use Apple Music and Apple TV +
Just because you do not use a Mac does not mean that you need to give up your beloved Apple services. Well, not all of them anyway. Although Apple does not yet have a way to use News + and Arcade outside on a PC, you can keep your Apple Music and Apple TV + subscriptions and still enjoy them on your Chromebook. You just need to access them online. You can go to music.apple.com (or beta.music.apple.com to try the iOS 14 style version) or tv.apple.com and sign in to start listening and watching. And the best part is that since you are not using the app, it does not even count towards the device limit.