The Chromebook system includes tools for common business applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, and slide presentations. At the center of it all, Google Drive secures your data files. The icon for Google Drive is a triangle with green, yellow, and blue sides. Selecting that icon will produce a list of all your files.
By default, files are stored on Google Drive “in the cloud” rather than on your local computer. You can go to another computer with internet access–even a Mac or PC–sign in to Google Drive and create or modify those files. If you want to work offline, store the files locally. In either case you may want to copy critical files to a portable flash drive.
Create a Journal or Diary
Many creative folk, from artists like Natalie Goldberg to scientists like Thomas Edison, keep a diary or journal. Even for those who prefer hand writing, keeping a diary for a week or so on the Chromebook is a useful exercise to learn more about the word processing capability available. Here is one way to begin:
- Select the blue page-shaped rectangle in the search box to open Google Docs. You will see a list of the text documents, if any, that you have created recently.
- Select the circled plus sign in the lower right corner to open a new document.
- Notice the usual word processing menus: “File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, Tools, Table, Add-ons, and (of course) Help. Type a filename–for example, Journal or Diary–in the data entry box above the drop-down “File” menu.
- Type the date in the white space below the menu and format bars. Add time, place, or a topic on the same line.
- Start a new line to type a journal entry. Time it if you like. At this point I know of no built-in timer, and I am generally suspicious of add-ons. In some cases they go away or are not maintained. So I use my smartphone…..
- At the end of the entry, go back to the beginning and shift+tap (or shift+click if you are using a mouse) to select the body of text. Select “Word count” in the “Tools” menu if you want that information.
Google Docs will keep track of your work, and can save text in several formats, including Microsoft Word and PDF. The next day or session, continue where you left off, typing a date line separate from the journal entry at the end of previous work. Or start at the top and let your typing push the previous entry down.
The next post, available in about a week, will include outlining and highlighting to help organize what may have started as a stream-of-consciousness record.
Basic Word Processing Technique
Just keep typing as fast as you can. The words will wrap automatically to the next line. When you get to the end of your thought process, go back and tap with two fingers (or right-click) any words underlined in red. A small rectangle will pop up to offer you spelling choices or suggest grammar. Select from the list of corrections offered or esc (escape, the key in the top left corner) to close the rectangle.
If you are online, you can dictate. Look under the “Tools” menu for “Voice typing” and a microphone symbol. Say period to end a sentence; the next letter will be capitalized.
Mac and PC users
The same free apps that come with a Chromebook are available on a Mac or PC. Follow the steps at https://support.google.com to install Google Drive, and you are ready to go. You will also find software to synchronize with your tablet or iphone if you find that useful.