Adobe Acrobat for Chromebook

Adobe AcrobatPDF files are everywhere on the web, and remain an excellent format for documentation that needs to retain its fonts and formats. Chrome OS does a great job of viewing PDFs, but you’ll need to dig a little further if you want to add notes or edit files.

Built into Chrome

Chrome has a built-in PDF viewer that’s fast and very easy to use – it simply treats PDFs on the web like a regular web page. You can go fullscreen for distraction-free reading.

Chrome built-in PDF viewer
Chrome built-in PDF viewer

Preview from Google Drive

There’s also a previewer in Google Drive – use it by clicking on any of your PDFs from Drive’s web interface. It’s slightly faster than the built-in Chrome viewer, because it doesn’t download the the full file, but dithers graphics and shows a lightly rendered version, which is great for huge PDFs and less stable internet connections.

Google Drive PDF Viewer
Google Drive PDF Viewer

PDFZen

PDFZen is a fully online PDF editor, which will let you do notes, comments, highlights and drawing on a PDF, which you can then download or share with anyone, and you don’t even have to log in. The only thing you can’t do is actually edit the text of a PDF file, so this is more for annotating an existing document (e.g. class notes) than re-editing.

PDFZen
PDFZen

PDFescape

PDFescape is very similar to PDFZen, with similar capabilities and similar tools, but a slightly different interface.

PDFescape
PDFescape

Netflix for Chromebook

NetflixNetflix is a great video on demand library that streams entertainment goodness to lots of different platforms. On the web it’s usually delivered by the Microsoft Silverlight plugin, which Chromebooks don’t run. However, Netflix have worked with Google to push Netflix over a Chrome specific technology called Native Client (NaCl), so Netflix works great on both x86 and ARM based Chromebooks. Just install the Netflix app from the Chrome Web Store and start rocking.

If you’re a LoveFilm subscriber (UK based), the story is less positive – you can watch trailers, but since Silverlight is also required for streaming TV and movies, you’re out of luck on any Chrome OS device. The good news is that Silverlight is not long for this world. As it gets dropped, Netflix and others who use it for secure streaming will have to find an alternative that we hope will be fully compatible with Chrome OS.

Alternative services

If you’re not tied to a Netflix subscription, some alternative Video On Demand services use Flash rather than Silverlight, and work no problem on Chromebook regardless of your model.

Audacity for Chromebook

audacity-160pxAudacity is a free and open source audio editor for Windows, Mac and Linux. It’s a great, simple editor for single audio tracks. Although it isn’t available for Chromebook, there are some neat alternatives.

TwistedWave

TwistedWave supports Google Drive, and even looks visually similar to Audacity. However, it’s limited to editing 30 second long clips without an account – you can log in (currently free) to edit clips up to 20 minutes long.

Den Hoopingarner’s MP3 Recorder

Den Hoopingarner’s portfolio contains an excellent option from Chromebook users – a flash widget that records audio, offers trimming, and encodes it to MP3 for download. Very simple and useful. Thank you to a kind commenter for pointing this out!

Den Hoopingarner MP3 Recorder
Den Hoopingarner’s MP3 Recorder

HTML 5 Audio Tool

The HTML 5 Audio Editor from Plucked is an online audio editor derived from parts of Audacity. Since your Chromebook runs the Web Audio API in Chrome, this editor works great – just drag and drop audio and process with some simple effects like normalisation or linear fades.

HTML 5 Audio Editor
HTML 5 Audio Editor

Garageband for Chromebook

GarageBandGarageband is an audio recording and production suite for Mac, aimed for the the prosumer market. It is produced only for the Mac. However, there are some web based alternatives you can use for simple audio production, with the added benefit on the Series 3 of the incredibly high quality audio hardware.

If you’re used to using Garageband or another traditional desktop sequencer like Cubase, Sonar or Protools, you’re probably aware that laying down tracks means creating a lot of large audio files, storing, mixing and layering on audio processing on the fly. That’s hard to do in a web application, but there are some surprisingly good options online.

Soundation

Soundation is a flash based multichannel sequencer, featuring a sampler, soft instruments and a built in loop library. If you want to lay out a simple house track it’s actually pretty capable – the default loops are high quality, and you can layer effects like phaser, distortion and delay on top of the track, all playing in real time.

Soundation
Soundation

Audiotool

Audiotool is more like Reason than a traditional desktop sequencer, so if you prefer that style this is a great option. Audiotool contains a host of very high quality samplers, synths and effects that you can combine together to create some great sounding tracks.

Audiotool
Audiotool

Audiosauna

Audiosauna is a fairly traditional sequencer, but it’s more for note triggered soft synths rather than audio loops. There’s a number of soft synths available as well as a mixing rack and effects.

Audiosauna
Audiosauna

UJAM

UJAM is probably the closest online package to Garageband – it’s made for writing simple synth & loop based tracks with real audio vocals that record from the built-in mic on your Chromebook (via Flash audio). If you are using a Series 3, you can expect UJAM to be a little jittery, but still usable. The only downside is the interface, which isn’t styled after traditional sequencers, so if you’re used to the Garageband layout it may take some getting used to.

UJAM
UJAM

Filezilla for Chromebook

filezillaFilezilla is a popular FTP client (and server) for Windows, OS X, Linux and other platforms. There’s no Chromebook client, but there are some alternatives you can use.

Net2FTP

net2ftp is a web based FTP client. You can just head to the site, input the FTP details you need and start uploading / downloading at will, but bear in mind that you are sharing your username / password and activity with the net2FTP server. Alternatively, if you have a cloud server of your own, you can install net2ftp on it yourself and not share anything with anyone.

net2ftp
net2ftp

Chrome itself

If you’re only looking to download files over FTP, Chrome itself can do this just fine. Just enter your FTP server’s details in the Omnibox like this:

ftp://username:password@full_url_of_ftp_server/folder

… or, for anonymous login, enter details like this:

ftp://full_url_of_ftp_server/folder

Chrome FTP
Chrome FTP

Internet Explorer for Chromebook

Internet Explorer 10Internet Explorer or IE is the default browser on Windows. If you’re looking to use this app on Chromebook to browse the web, the best advice is don’t. Chrome OS is built around the Chrome browser, which you are using to access this website, and it is a lovely replacement for IE.

However, if you need to get access to IE for testing or similar purposes, there is an app for that.

Cloud Internet Explorer

The Cloud Internet Explorer app gives you a short time accessing a remote Windows box running a version of IE (no flash enabled), so you can see how the other half sees your website.

Cloud Internet Explorer
Cloud Internet Explorer: aboutchromebook.comception!

uTorrent for Chromebook

uTorrentNormally, users download a client like uTorrent to download torrents.

jstorrent

jstorrent is a Chrome packaged app for downloading torrents. Although not completely stable, it does appear to be functional, and (as of writing) the only app based solution for downloading torrents.

jstorrent on Chromebook
jstorrent

uTorrent

You can of course run a uTorrent server on a remote machine and use the web interface on Chromebook to manage it, which is what this machine is best at. However, if you have no remote machine, you can install uTorrent server on the Chromebook itself, thanks to this document from Fran├žois Beaufort.

PuTTY for Chromebook

PuTTYPuTTY is a terminal emulator available for Windows, Linux and OS X. While it’s not available for Chromebook, there are some alternatives to check out.

Crosh

If you’re looking for PuTTY you’re probably comfortable with poking around under the hood. Know this – Chrome OS is built on top of Linux, and has a crosh terminal you can use right now. If you’re looking to SSH somewhere or just ping something, it’ll do just fine. You can get to it by just hitting CTRL+ALT+T, which will open a new tab running your terminal.

crosh shell on Chromebook
crosh shell

Secure Shell

If you need something with more power and more features, Google produced the Secure Shell app. It’s only terminal emulation, so you can’t use it to access your local Linux prompt, but if you’re connecting to something remote it’s just what you need.

Secure Shell on Chromebook
Secure Shell

VLC for Chromebook

VLCVLC is an awesome, open source local media player for Windows and Mac that plays just about any media file you throw at it. It isn’t available for Chromebook – currently, the best you can do for local media files is the built in media player.

Chrome OS itself

Chrome OS has a basic music player built into it. Really basic. It will read MP4 movies, MP3 and OGG audio files (full list here), but if you have AAC, FLAC, WMA or any other file format you’re outta luck.

The built in music player
The built in music player
The built in movie player
The built in movie player

Google Drive

It turns out that the Google Drive viewer supports a wider variety of video files (full list here), so if you’re having no luck with the built in viewer, you can upload the file to Drive and try to watch it from there. Note that if your your file is very large, the upload can take a very long time, so this option is best for smaller files.

Microsoft Paint for Chromebook

Microsoft PaintPaint has been standard issue with Microsoft Windows since its early days. It’s a great utility app for creating drawings from scratch and making quick edits to photos. Happily, there are plenty of apps you can use to do exactly those tasks and more. The simple built-in editor works great offline, but for the others you’ll need to upload your image, edit it, and download it again.

Chrome OS itself

It’s not obvious, but Chrome OS has some simple image editing tools built in. Just head into the Files app, click on your image, then click the pencil icon to flick into editing mode where you can auto-fix colour, crop, adjust brightness and rotate your image. It all works offline, so you can process your images any time.

Chrome OS image editor
Chrome OS image editor

Google Docs Drawing

If you’re creating a simple line drawing, you can use a Google Docs drawing. Just head to Drive and click Create Drawing to get started. Unlike Paint it’s made for vectors, so you’ll find better tools for lines, shapes and text, but no brushes or colour adjustment tools.

Google Docs drawing
Google Docs drawing

Photoshop Express

Adobe have their own version of Photoshop that runs on the web, called Photoshop Express. If you’re a hardcore photoshop user you’re still out of luck, but if you want some simple and neat tools for photo editing, it’s pretty good. (Quick note – if you’re running Adblock Plus, make sure you disable it on this site or it won’t load.)

Photoshop express
Photoshop express

Pixlr

Pixlr is an online image editor that works great for cropping, resizing and annotating images. The advanced mode can handle layers, automatic area selection and has multiple undo levels.

Pixlr
Pixlr

PicMonkey

PicMonkey is a smartly designed online photo editor. It’s perfect for adding filters, touching up and adding text to a photo, and it’s integrated with Google Drive so you can open images directly from your Drive rather than heading to PicMonkey and uploading. The only slight downside is that many of the fonts & filters are displayed but restricted to a subscription version.

PicMonkey
PicMonkey

PiZap

PiZap is a simple and slightly rough flash based online editor. It’s more designed for simple edits that end up in forums than creating a digital masterpiece.

piZap
piZap