Sippin’ the Google Kool-Aid: Using a Chromebook as My Only Computer

The cloud weirds me out. This is coming from a guy that could pack up all — yes, all — of his possessions and be ready to leave the country in half an hour, tops. I live Spartan — minimal —owning little more than I need and always having it within an arm’s reach.

My computer is the same way. The small handful of programs that I run are all open source, excluding the operating system, solely because Linux is incapable of hosting the programs that I need. To me, minimal doesn’t mean going without, but having just enough.

With my old Samsung [NP300E4C] slowly dying, I began investigating Chromebooks. The concept of no local storage was terrifying, but after a talk with Dave the Ninja, I became slightly more comfortable with the idea. The cloud is the future. You can fight it, but it’s going to happen with or without you. If you’re smart you’ll embrace it now rather than worry about it later.

How to Use a Chromebook as Your Primary Computer

The big question is how? All of your storage is moving to the cloud, and your local programs will need cloud replacements. I suppose the best way to explain is by sharing exactly what I’ve done.

Local Storage >> Google Drive

If you already use and prefer Dropbox, feel free to stick with that, but Chrome OS makes Google Drive feel like your hard drive. 15 GB is plenty of room to work with, but more is available for purchase, though I received 1 TB free for 2 years when I bought my Toshiba Chromebook 2.

Microsoft Word / Excel >> Google Docs / Sheets

It’s not perfect, but it will work for most. If you need the full functionality of Microsoft Office then this may not work, but the majority of people could make the switch just fine.

Photoshop >> Pixlr

This is the same story as Microsoft Office. Pixlr isn’t perfect, but unless you’re a hardcore graphic designer it should be more than enough.

Notepad++ >> Caret

The biggest issue with plaintext editors is finding one with the features you need. Caret has them.

Overall, the transition has been smooth. With a little research, many web developers and SEOs will find that a Chromebook can meet their needs.

Who Could Use a Chromebook as Their Main Computer?

The truth is, most people. Too many people have computers with capacities well above what they will ever use them for. There’s no need for a MacBook if all you’re doing is watching YouTube videos.

Who Shouldn’t?

Power users and digital hoarders. If you NEED multiple screens and 20 tabs open at once, this isn’t the setup for you. If you need tons of local storage this simply won’t work.


Are you using a Chromebook as your only computer? If so, how has the transition gone? Let us know!

Image Credit: Peter Kaminski [Flickr]


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