Google Assistant, the company's AI-driven voice and text helper, has been available on most Chromebook devices since the release of Chrome OS 76. That update has had plenty of time to roll out and land on just about every Chrome OS gadget now but that doesn't mean using Assistant on non-pixel devices is entirely simple or intuitive.
To begin with, Chromebooks that aren't Pixel devices don't have a hardware key built-in for accessing the feature. Several key settings are also disabled by default and, at least on some devices, the entire thing is disabled by default.
There's also plenty of motivation to use Assistant on Chromebooks since there are a few select commands only accessible on Chrome OS devices. For instance, users can create new documents from Google's G Suite of office tools and more with Chromebooks.
Turning Assistant on and using it to accomplish that, all of the same actions that are present with a Nest Home or Android device, and more is relatively easy to do.
How to turn Google Assistant On and access it via voice
The first step to using Google Assistant on a Chromebook is to turn the feature on. For at least some devices, that's turned off by default but Google should show a walkthrough when the feature becomes available.
Now, turning the feature on — if that walkthrough was missed — is straightforward enough. Google tucks away those settings in the Settings app. That can be accessed by clicking or tapping either that app in the launcher drawer or the gear icon in the Quick Settings panel. That panel is found behind the clock on the launcher shelf.
Google Assistant settings can be found by searching the term "assistant" or scrolling down to the "Search and Assistant" subheading. Clicking or tapping on "Google Assistant" will call forward the appropriate menu.
If voice activation using the "Okay Google" or "Hey Google" hotwords is needed, that's also where those settings are found. The primary toggle needs to be switched over to "On" and then other options will appear.
By default, options for using the wake word and for using voice by default are turned off. Turning those on will allow users to simply say "Okay Google" and then search by voice, without any screen or keyboard input. The feature works the same as on other platforms but with the extra commands listed above available too.
If voice features aren't turned on, users can simply type their query or command. Conversely, keyboard access can be found under the dot-filled square icon at the right-hand side of the entry space.
Access Google Assistant in the Chrome OS launcher
The Chrome OS launcher is another place that users can access Google Assistant on a Chromebook. The lightweight gadgets have had a device search option since very early on. But, after activating Assistant, the mic icon to the right of that now accesses Google Assistant.
With a simple tap or click on the circle-shaped launcher icon on the Chrome OS shelf, the search bar is revealed. From there, tapping or clicking on the colored microphone icon calls forward Google Assistant.
If voice preferences haven't been set, using the tool is a matter of typing in a query or a command. For those who have set a preference for voice commands, speaking the command or query will accomplish the same thing.
How to use Google Assistant On a Chromebook with a keyboard shortcut
The final method for accessing Google Assistant on a Chromebook is a keyboard command. On Pixel-branded devices and keyboards, a Google Assistant key is present. So using Google Assistant there is as straightforward as simply pressing that hardware key.
Everybody else will need a combination of keys.
Holding search and then pressing the "a" key brings up the Assistant specific interface. Interacting with that is the same as everywhere else. So users will need to proceed to speak their command or search if they have voice preferences set. Typing can be used by tapping the box-shaped keyboard icon or simply beginning to type — if voice input isn't set as the preferred method.