Because we eat, sleep and breathe Chromebooks here at Chrome Unboxed, it’s easy for us to take for granted the seemingly simple functionalities of Chrome OS. We use them every day without a second thought but we want to make sure we are offering not only news and reviews but also great tips and how-tos for new and seasoned Chromebook users. With the recent events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Chromebook adoption has grown at an accelerated rate as students, employees and general consumers have found a need for a device that is as versatile and flexible as the needs that have been thrust upon its user. That was never more clear than earlier this week when we sat down with Chrome OS head of product management John Maletis and he informed us that Chromebook growth had experienced a 400% YoY growth recently.
That fact in hand, it occurred to me that there are likely a TON of new Chromebook users who are out there trying to figure this thing out and the burden of learning a new operating system wasn’t on their list of things to do in 2020. Thankfully, Chrome OS is relatively straightforward and lightweight. Most users that are familiar with Google’s Android ecosystem and use Google’s applications will, for the most part, make themselves at home fairly quickly. Still, there’s a lot to be said about mastering the basics and that’s exactly what I want to do with this new “Quick Tip” series. We’re going to cover the basics of using Chrome OS today I’m going to show you how to change your default download location on your device.
Out of the box, Chromebooks have a Files app pinned to the shelf and as you’d expect, that’s where all of your files live. When you open the files app, you won’t see much apart from the Downloads folder and a Google Drive tab. The Drive tab will be connected to the Google account that you used to log into the device and is connected by default. (You can disconnect Google Drive in the settings menu if you prefer.)
For many users, the Downloads folder is just fine as the default place where files are saved. If you need to access a particular file on a separate device, you can simply drag it into your Google Drive right there in the Files app. However, some users may want to specify a different folder for downloading files and you have some options to achieve that task. If you want complete control over where each file goes, you can set your device to prompt you every time you download a file. To do this, you will need to go to the settings page. This used to live in the Chrome OS settings menu but recent changes have separated out some settings into the browser. You can find the settings page by clicking the three-dot menu at the top right of the Chrome browser and selecting “settings” or you can just type
chrome://settings in the browser URL bar. On the left-hand menu, you’ll see a Downloads tab. Click that and you will be greeted with the downloads menu.
You will see a toggle to the right of the menu item labeled “Ask where to save each file before downloading.” Turn that on an now you’ll be prompted every time you download a file. At this point, your only options will still be Downloads or Google Drive but in the popup window that opens when you save a file, you will have the option to create a new folder. You can use this feature to organize files into folders on a per-item basis. If you just want to use a different folder for all of your downloads, you can do that as well with the following steps.
First, open the Files app that is located on the shelf of your Chromebook. The shelf is the bar at the bottom of the screen that has icons pinned to it and the Files app is, you guessed it, the one that looks like a blue folder. Open that and then, right-click anywhere under the Downloads folder. You will be given the option to create a new folder and name it whatever you like. If you prefer, you can open the Downloads folder and create a new folder nested inside that folder. Name your folder, hit enter, and close the Files app. Now, we’re going to head back to the Chrome settings page mentioned above. Click Downloads in the left-hand menu and look for the item that says “Location.” Click the “change” button and a popup window will open that will have all of the folders housed in your Files app. Select the folder you wish to use as your default and click “open” to save it. Now, that is your default download folder.
You may have noticed that Google Drive was an option when you changed your folder and you would be correct in presuming that you can select your Drive as your default downloads location. This is especially useful for uses who bounce around from device to device. Whether for school, work, or what have you, this the perfect place to save your files if you are looking to leverage the cloud as much as possible. It’s also, as Robby pointed out, a great way to make sure you never accidentally delete files during a powerwash or unforeseen system restoration. Just select Google Drive or one of its subfolders and that will now be your default location for files you have saved.
This method even works with Linux. If you bought a Chromebook and are looking to use a lot of Linux applications, you will find a Linux folder in your Files app once you enable the Linux container. You can always share your Downloads or other folders with Linux access them with Linux apps but you’ll have to navigate down into a bunch of nested folders and it’s a bit confusing if you don’t know where to look. Instead, select the Linux folder as your default download location and your Linux apps will automatically see any files you have stored there. Easy, peasy. That’s about it for this one. I hope that you have found this tip useful and that it helps you become even more confident in using your Chromebook. Keep an eye out for more Quick Tips and if you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask. Drop a comment below or shoot us an email. We’d love to hear from Chromebook users so that we can address the most common questions that arise when using Chrome OS. See you soon.