The Android app category on the Chromebook platform has come a long way since the early days of Chrome OS. Not only are more apps than ever supported. But users can also manage each app just like on Android, with just a bit extra in terms of management — from permissions and notifications to how their Chromebook resizes the Android apps.
But why would you want to manage your apps and how can you accomplish that? Let’s dive in and find out.
Reasons you’ll want to manage any app on a Chromebook are the same as a phone
Now, the primary reason that anybody would want to manage any app on their Chromebook is going to be the same as on Android. Namely, for security and privacy. And that’s because, just as on Android, those apps have permissions. And those permissions manage Android apps on a Chromebook by giving them the ability to access everything from the camera to location and account data, just as any app on the mobile platform can.
Of course, permissions do more than just increase the level of functionality of any given app too — whether on Android or Chromebook. They also potentially serve as vectors for malicious access that users wouldn’t necessarily want. So turning permissions on or off is an activity that just about any user should learn to accomplish.
Also like Android, any user of an app on a Chromebook can additionally manage notifications. Those can be turned on or off outright. Or users can choose to manage them more deeply, activating quieter notifications in Chrome, for example. Effectively negating the potentially counterproductive or downright annoying notifications some apps can send.
And that latter feature can be particularly helpful for those syncing their mobile device via Phone Hub. Or via any of the other available methods for pushing notifications from their phone to their Chromebook.
Finally, managing apps means that users can readily and easily turn on or off by default the app resizing features recently added by Google to the OS. Namely, the feature that keeps apps locked between either Phone or landscape tablet orientations rather than allowing them to potentially break by resizing up to fill the screen.
That can, of course, be done on an app-by-app basis as those apps are opened. But it can also be accomplished more broadly, which is the final topic we’ll discuss in this guide. So without further ado, let’s explore the “how” behind these features.
Here’s how to manage an app or apps on a Chromebook
There are several ways to go about managing the apps that are installed on your Chromebook. Here, we’ll discuss the easiest and most common ways you’ll want to manage any app on your Chromebook.
Here’s the easy way to manage a single app on your Chromebook
Learning to manage a single Android app on your Chromebook is an easy process. And one that should be familiar to any user on the Android platform.
- Open up your app launcher using the concentric circle icon at the bottom-left-hand side of the Chrome OS UI
- Tap or click the upward-facing chevron arrow to open the full drawer. Conversely, you may also use gestures — with a two-finger upward trackpad swipe from the bottom to open the launcher and another swipe up to open the full app drawer
- Locate the application you’d like to manage. For our example images, we’ll be focusing on a banking app called “One” and Adobe’s Photoshop Express
- Perform a “right-click” action on the app icon of your choosing. That can be accomplished using simple shortcuts such as holding down the ‘alt’ key and clicking or by clicking with two fingers. A long-press will also work, for those Chromebooks with a touchscreen
- From the resulting context menu, tap or click on the “App info” option
- Chrome OS will load up a screen containing all of the same management items found on Android. So, you should see the app’s icon at the top of the page, alongside an “Uninstall” button. Other options will appear below that
See every app installed and manage those too
Conversely, you can also manage apps using the dedicated Settings menu and that may be a bit easier for some. Particularly for those that want to manage all of their apps.
- On your Chromebook, tap or click on the clock at the lower-right-hand side of the shelf
- Tap or click on the gear-shaped Settings icon
- Select “Apps” from the left-hand sidebar in the resulting Settings app
- Tap or click on the “Manage your apps” option. Chrome OS will then showcase all installed apps. Those can be managed following the steps below. Simply tap or click on the individual app you’d like to manage from the resulting list. A helpful search is also included at the top of the page if you’re looking for a specific app
How to perform basic app management via the Chromebook app manager
- To Uninstall an app, navigate to the app management page using one of the above-mentioned methods for reaching the page
- Once the app management is opened, tap or click on the associated “Uninstall” button. Chrome OS will ask whether you’d like to uninstall the app. Click or tap “Uninstall” to confirm
- To Pin an app to the shelf, toggle the “Pin to shelf” option to the on position
- Tap or click the toggle next to the “Notifications” option, to turn off or on notifications
- To turn on or off any permissions the app may have access to, simply toggle the associated UI next to the permission you’d like to grant or deny access to. It’s worth noting that some apps do need permissions to function properly. For instance, the Photoshop Express app requires storage access to open and save images. The One app used in this example needs camera permission to snap verification photos for the account access in some cases
How to manage Android app deeper permissions, data, and more on Chromebook
Now, in the initial App info screen, you will see options to manage some of the permissions for the app on your Chromebook. But there are deeper options that can be addressed as well.
- In the app management UI discussed above, click or tap the “More settings and permissions” option. The UI shows the option alongside a square-shaped icon with an arrow pointing away from the square from the inside-bottom-left corner
- Once opened, the UI will be presented just like App info presents on Android. With clear management options for those listed above, but with deeper options available as well. For instance, under Permissions, users can both allow and deny permissions. And can choose to have permissions expire when it isn’t being used. This page UI also has options to take users to the app’s page in the Google Play Store, to uninstall or open the app, and to Force Stop the app if it’s misbehaving. All clearly labeled just as on Android smartphones
- To clear storage and/or cache, tap or click the “Storage & cache” option. As on Android, the UI to manage an app on the Chromebook platform shows how much of each is in use. And gives options to clear either
You can also adjust apps that have Chrome’s new preset window sizes
Of course, with the latest updates to Chrome OS, some changes have been made to how the system lets you manage an Android app beyond those things too. Namely, by allowing users to continue resizing some apps as normal. While others are locked into a select scale for better usability. Gmail, for example, is one such app.
Resize your apps again via the Chromebook app management menu
Changing the app size for those apps is no longer a straightforward task. Or at least it isn’t as straightforward as tapping and dragging the edges. As is the case in Windows and other operating systems. And as used to be the case for those same Android apps on a Chromebook.
Fortunately, we’ve already got a guide that can walk you through the process of changing that via one method. But there is another way to set up the apps too. And that can be found in the same menus above, making it easier to manage multiple apps in rapid succession. As opposed to opening up all of the apps individually while in the app.
- Open the app management menu via your preferred method above
- If the app is resizeable, it will feature an additional option dubbed “Preset window sizes”
- To make the app permanently resizeable, click or tap the toggle next to the “Preset window sizes” box. After toggling the feature off, you’ll be able to use the minimize/maximize UI, just as it was prior to the feature being added. With the feature toggled on, UI will appear when the app is opened, allowing you to switch between Tablet, Phone, and Resizeable mode