6 Chromebook Annoyances You Should Fix Right Now

Ryan Dube 22-03-2018

Chromebooks are fun, lightweight, and convenient. But in many ways they can also be terribly annoying at times.


Over time, those annoyances crop up to bug you so often that before long, you’ll end up feeling like throwing the thing through the nearest window.

Have no fear. While a Chromebook has a few limitations compared to a regular laptop, there are ways you can either work around these issues, or fix them entirely.

1. Auto-Hiding Scrollbars Doesn’t Work

The latest update of Chrome OS offers a browser “enhancement” that is actally more like a software bug. I’m not sure what Google engineer came up with this idea, but whoever it was should be demoted to janitor. This is the single most annoying aspect of using a Chromebook now.

What idea? The insufferable disappearing (auto-hide) scroll bar.

Put your mouse near the right edge of where the scrollbar is supposed to be and it magically appears out of thin air.


Fix Chromebook Annoyances - auto-hiding scrollbars

Move the mouse away, and bye-bye scrollbar.

Now here’s a pop-quiz. If you didn’t know where that scrollbar slider was already, just looking at the screenshot below, how would you know where to put your mouse in order to get it back?

Fix Chromebook Annoyances - auto-hiding scrollbars


The answer is, you don’t. There’s nothing there. If you place your mouse over the lower part of the invisible scrollbar, nothing happens; no scrollbar. You actually have to slide your mouse up and down the side, hoping you’re going to randomly slide it over the hidden scrollbar, until it appears.

Once you find yourself searching enough times for that hidden scrollbar, one of three things will happen.

  1. You accidentally click on some other part of the window you didn’t mean to click on.
  2. Curse in frustration at Google for making your life a living hell.
  3. Break your trackpad punching it in frustration with your finger.

The point is, Google made a very bad design decision here.

It’s even worse when the scrollbar is supposed to be in the middle of a window, such as a scrollable pane.


Fix Chromebook Annoyances - auto-hiding scrollbars

Seriously, how is anyone supposed to know there’s actually a scrollbar there?

The Workaround: Set the Overlay Scrollbars Flag

Thankfully, there’s a quick fix for this annoyance.

In your browser URL field, type in chrome://flags, scroll down to Overlay Scrollbars, and set it to Disabled.


Fix Chromebook Annoyances - auto-hiding scrollbars

That’s it. Problem solved.

Fix Chromebook Annoyances - auto-hiding scrollbars solved

Now the scrollbar will always display where a scrollbar is supposed to display.

There are many other annoying Chrome browser issues, so we’ve provided plenty of ways for you to fix them 10 Annoying Chrome Issues and How to Fix Them If you are experiencing Chrome problems, you've come to the right place. In this article, we take a look at some of the most common flaws and provide guidance on how to fix them. Read More .

2. Profile Switching Is Clunky

When you first boot your Chromebook you’ll need to sign in using a Google account. When you’re logged in under that account, you’ll see that account displayed when you click the lower right corner of the taskbar. You have the option to sign out of that account and sign into another one.

Fix Chromebook Annoyances - profile switching

This flips you back to the sign-in screen, where you can add as many Google accounts as you like.

Fix Chromebook Annoyances - profile switching

Here’s the issue. On the taskbar account listing, you can have multiple accounts signed it at once, but these are sessions, not windows.

So if you want to do something like copy text from a Google doc in one account to an email in another account, it’s a major hassle. You have to switch sessions (sometimes you’re forced to log in again at the main login screen), and often copy/pasting between sessions doesn’t even work at all.

The Workaround: Use Browser Profile Management

Rather than dealing with Chromebook sessions to work with multiple accounts, the workaround for this annoyance is using the Chrome browser’s own account management tools.

When you’re logged into Chrome, just click on the acount profile image, and then click the Add account button at the bottom of the list.

Fix Chromebook Annoyances - profile switching

Then, click Use another account to sign into your other Google account.

Fix Chromebook Annoyances - profile switching

Once you do this, the tab itself is signed into the other account. Now you can just copy from the Google Doc in one tab, flip over to the other tab, and past that text into your email or wherever else.

Working between multiple accounts within a single browser is very easy, and far less annoying than trying to work between multiple accounts using Chromebooks profile management system.

We can help you with setting up Chrome profiles 6 Custom Google Chrome Profiles You Should Start Using What are Chrome profiles and how do you use them? Here are several useful ideas for Chrome browser profiles you should try. Read More if you’ve never done that before.

3. Can’t Use Word or Excel Files

When Chromebooks first came out, dealing with MS Office files like Word documents or Excel spreadsheets was a major pain. You couldn’t really work with them directly. It required converting them over to a Google Doc or Google Sheet, editing them there, and then converting back.

Over time, that “conversion” process has gotten easier, thankfully. And while it’s still a bit annoying that you can’t natively open and edit those same files right on your Chromebook, the workaround for this is fairly seamless.

The Workaround: Use an Extension

In fact, there are several solutions. The best of those, in my opinion, is the Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides extension for Chrome.

Fix Chromebook Annoyances - excel extension

With this extension, you can open and edit MS Office files directly. No conversion necessary.

Google recognized that this was a major annoyance for Chromebook users, so if you have the latest Chome OS update, this extension is actually included automatically.

Other solutions to edit MS Office files directly:

There is still an added benefit to copying your MS Office files over to your Google Drive account. You can edit those documents collaboratively with other Chrome users who have the same MS Office editing extension installed.

Yes, it’s still a little bit annoying that you can’t do this without installing or using an extension. But this is the nature of using a device that’s limited to browser-based functionality. At least there are workarounds that are relatively painless.

This is one extension that’s very useful for students, but there are many more extensions to explore 6 Chrome Extensions Every Student Should Use As a student, you have to use every tool at your disposal to go from student to sudious. Here are the Chrome extensions that will keep you focused, productive, and organized. Read More if you’re going to school.

4. Forget About Printing Normally

Most devices these days have the ability to connect and print to any printer that you’ve connected to the same network your device is connected to. Chromebooks don’t have that functionality.

Natively, if you open any document using your Chromebook and click on the print button, you’ll see a popup similar to the one shown below. It’s deceiving because there isn’t actually any real “print” functionality available. It’s only a glorified document-to-PDF converter.

Fix Chromebook Annoyances - printing

You can’t even connect your Chromebook directly to a printer using USB because it’s impossible to install device drivers on your Chromebook. You would think that most Chromebook manufacturers would come up with a solution for this. Maybe more of a laptop/chromebook hybrid with support for commonly used devices like printers.

But currently, if you own a Chromebook, you’re completely out of luck when it comes to printing, unless you’re willing to do a little bit of work.

On the upside, it’s easy to capture your screen, if that works for your project. Check out our guide on taking screenshots on your Chromebook Taking Screenshots on a Chromebook: A Quick and Dirty Guide Just got a new Chromebook and wondering how to take screenshots? Here's how to take a screenshot on Chromebook, and more! Read More .

The Workaround: Use Google Cloud Print

While it does take a little bit of up-front effort, the Google Cloud Print solution works well.

You can set this up for free if you have a Google account. In my experience, you can’t set it up directly from your Chromebook. You’ll have the easiest setup if you do it from a computer where you’ve already printed to the printer that you’re configuring.

  • On that computer, open Chrome and type “chrome://devices” into the URL field.
  • You should see your printer displayed under the “Printers to register” heading.
  • Select the printer (or printers) you want to register with Google Cloud Print and click Add printer(s).
  • Confirm the registration.
  • It’s possible that your printer may require you to accept registration. If so, just select OK.

Once you work through this process, you can print from any device (including mobile devices) using your Google account.

Fix Chromebook Annoyances - cloud print

From now on, when you print from your Chromebook, you’ll see your printer listed as an option.

Fix Chromebook Annoyances - printing

It’s a little bit annoying that you have to do so much work just to print from your Chromebook, but that’s the nature of the beast. Saving money by buying a Chromebook comes with with another kind of cost. Your time.

If you’re a digital nomad looking for a way to print when you aren’t on your own home network, we’ve offered a whole list of printing solutions for you 5 Ways to Print Documents When You Are Out of the House Outside the house and need to get something printed on time? Find the nearest places to print your documents with these tips. Read More .

5. Missing CD or DVD Player

If you have music, games, applications, or files on a CD or DVD and you’re hoping to access those with your Chromebook, you’re out of luck. Chromebooks have no support for external disc drives, for the same reason they don’t natively support printing. Lack of device drivers.

The Workaround: Copy Files to External Storage

The only way to access anything stored on a CD or DVD is to copy those files to your Google Drive account, or to an external hard drive. Chromebooks can connect with external hard drives, so this is a good option. However, don’t expect to run any applications using your Chromebook.

Remember, a Chromebook isn’t a laptop. The only “applications” that can run on it are browser based.

6. Apps Aren’t Really Apps

That point is worth noting, because it’s a critical part of what makes Chromebooks so different from laptops.

This is especially important for anyone who doesn’t really know much about Chromebooks, and may see them on display while browsing through the electronics store. They look a lot like a regular laptop, complete with USB ports, an HDMI port, and even an SSD card slot.

Before you buy, please remember: You can’t run applications on your Chromebook.

The only applications you can install are ones you find on Google Play or the Chrome Web Store. And realistically, these aren’t really “applications” in the true sense of the word. Sure, when you run them you might see an independent window with the typically window controls at the upper right corner of the window.

Fix Chromebook Annoyances - apps

But the reality is that these are browser-based applications. They don’t operate any differently than if you were to open the same app from your Chrome browser. The independent window is a facade — it isn’t an app, it’s a Chrome-based extension. Nothing more.

This may be fine if you never really depend on “real” applications anyway. But if you find yourself using specific applications a lot—like certain photo or video editors, Microsoft applications, or music apps like Spotify—you’re going to be disappointed.

You might find web-based alternatives for those, but inevitably they’ll be scaled down web-based versions with limited functionality. Whether or not you find this annoying depends on how much you normally depend on those applications every day.

Another workaround for this, if you’re a bit more tech savvy, is to run an emulator on Chrome OS. We can show you how to install such an emulator to run Windows applications on a Chromebook How to Install Windows Programs and Games on Chromebooks Chromebooks were already great, and now they're even better because you can install Windows software on them. Read More if you desperately need to.

Are You Annoyed by Your Chromebook?

In early 2016, Chromebooks outsold Macs. This was an astonishing milestone for Google’s Chrome OS. However, the devices still remain the most basic type of computing device you could possibly own, albeit with some really solid multitasking options in the Chromebook.

They’re super-cheap—and that’s their appeal for so many people—but they’re also severely limited in functionality. Most people buying these devices may not even realize just how limited Chromebooks are, until it’s too late. If you want to get a better sense of just how much you can get out of your Chromebook, taking look at your Chromebook specs and system info is a good place to start.

But if you have yet to buy one, make sure you follow our tips for deciding if a Chromebook is right for you How to Decide If a Chromebook Is Right For You Is a Chromebook for everyone? In a word: No. There is a time and a place for a Chromebook. If you are contemplating this laptop replacement, there are a few things you should consider first. Read More . The last thing you want to do is throw your money away, so asking yourself the right questions will help you avoid making that mistake.

Related topics: Chromebook, Troubleshooting.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Scott Johnson
    February 28, 2020 at 11:55 pm

    Who uses a scroll bar when we have a two finger gesture on a trackpad? I gave up my mouse a long time ago because the trackpad is so awesome (at least on Acer CBs)

  2. fuel man
    December 21, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Solution #1 (for vanishing scrollbars) helped me for some time, but now the "overlay scrollbar" flag has vanished from the menu, and my scrollbars are also vanishing again. It would be great to have an update for how to fix the problem now.

  3. Amy Hooker Kidd
    September 16, 2019 at 2:01 am

    You've made my life exponentially better by helping me ensure I can find the f*cking scroll bar whenever I need it rather than spending valuable time hovering my cursor over random places and forgetting this particular Chromebook isn't a touchscreen. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Soli
      October 28, 2019 at 7:47 pm

      Oh yes me too. I was quite happy with it until it updated with the invisible scrollbar. Thankyou very much to the author!

  4. Beth Hartka
    July 7, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    I am so happy that I stumbled across this article!! The scrollbar thing has been killing me for years! I was looking into buying a new one hoping it was fixed in newer ones and thanks to this article it is solved!! Can't thank you enough.

  5. Nunya Biz
    June 24, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    I don't know why any of this is an issue. I only use my Chromebook when working remotely and I only came to this article because I'm looking for a solution to another problem: After turning on toolbar:auto-hide, the bottom of my screen is trimmed. I use Quickbooks Online and then bottom 4 mm is cut off.
    Hmm. Can't seem to place a screenshot here.

    Anywho, I also despise articles that do not put the published date at the top of the article. This is an article, not a sticky.

  6. sandy riley
    April 21, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    OMG, thanks for helping with the scroll bar issue. I at long last actually fixed it with your help. Now I just have to wait for my hair to grow back.
    I got this after my other laptop crashed, and it fit my budget at the time. NEVER AGAIN.

  7. Whitney Williams
    April 10, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    The trick for the scrollbar is a LIFESAVER! I just bought a Chromebook and was constantly frustrated that the scrollbar would often vanish entirely for no good reason. Thank you!!!

  8. Nick Halbrook
    March 6, 2019 at 5:56 am

    Great article albeit rather an article about Chromebooks for Idiots who got one out of a bit of naivety or complete ignorance as to what they are or are not.

  9. Sarah Elliott
    December 29, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    i have a chromebook and i can't even play the sims 4 and i can't even do all of the things that i want to do and i asked for a laptop for school and college work not a chromebook and it is really annoying. so i'm having to save up for a real laptop that is capable of what i want it for

  10. Kelly Jo
    August 4, 2018 at 10:54 am

    This article saved my sanity, thank you. I'm still disappointed with my purchase, but 1) I know now I'm not losing my mind and 2) it was cheap and still runs faster than my 2007 laptop for the basic stuff. The hidden scrollbar thing is infuriating ... aren't Google devs supposed to be ... smart? But my experience on this thing just got infinitely better. Thanks again.

  11. Pramod
    April 19, 2018 at 3:20 am

    I recently found out that Chromebook / Chrome browswers can't play flash videos directly any more. So, if you are a teacher with many flash video links you have no choice but to switch it to a windows desktop / laptop. There is a good reason why Chrome is not allowing flash. They are asking all the content providers to upgrade to a better web standards like HTML5. So, I built an app to help out the Chrome users out there view the flash videos. Check it out. It may come handy for you: http:\\

  12. Tim
    March 23, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    The section about printing has already been picked apart by others, but I thought I'd add a couple of points:

    (1) About 18 months ago, Chrome OS added the CUPS printing system (used in most Linux distros and macOS), which means in many (most?) cases, there's no need to install printer drivers anyway, as they're usually included in CUPS.

    (2) I don't know about USB printing from my Chromebook (our HP laser is network-aware, so I always print over our LAN anyway), but I'm pretty sure it's "plug and play"... as far as USB printing ever is :-P

    (3) Thanks to CUPS, Google Cloud Print is not *required* for local printing from a Chromebook, although it can be a handy feature to have access to.

    (4) If you have an HP printer, HP offers a Chrome plug-in which greatly simplifies setting up. It's in the Chrome App Store as "HP Print for Chrome", and in the case of our HP printer, gives us access from Chrome OS to all the usual features (duplex, colour, etc.). It also supports network and cable (USB) connections.

    Basically: if you own an HP printer, get this app. If you don't... experiment :-)

    • skane2600
      July 23, 2018 at 8:19 am

      CUPS is not a general purpose printing solution. If it were, its setup dialog on Chromebooks wouldn't ask you for the make and model of your printer.

  13. Andy Simmons
    March 23, 2018 at 11:54 am

    I really want to run ie 11 on my new chromebox. Can anyone help me? Please!

    • Morty
      March 27, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      Why do you want to run that cancer on a chromebox? if you want that, just get a windows machine instead

      • Andy Simmons
        March 27, 2018 at 4:20 pm

        trust me. I HATE IE!! But some of the companies that my business works with ONLY use it... so we are forced to use it!!! Hopefully, there is, or will soon be, a solution, where I can run it on my Chromebox... i have tried many extensions and none are robust enough still... :(

        • Ji?í Sedlá?ek
          July 2, 2018 at 6:47 pm

          Did you tested IE Tab?

        • Andy Simmons
          July 2, 2018 at 8:06 pm

          Unfortunately, I have tried that "IE Tab" and a few others... and none of them were without their major glitches, which prevent me from using it routinely. I heard that Chromeboxes will soon be able to run all android apps and the real IE is an android app, right? So maybe that will work some day soon??? Or maybe Edge... but then the companies that I work with (one of them in AAA insurance!) will have to step up their game and make their sites compatible with Edge.... uggghhhh!!!

  14. Luis
    March 23, 2018 at 8:34 am

    You CAN print directly from a Chromebook, connecting to a printer in the same Network. Native printing has been available since 2017.

  15. Thomas Boito
    March 22, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    Man, what a whiny article! YOU should NOT be using a Chromebook. Why are you so annoyed by such trivial issues? You have provided work-arounds in every case, none of which are particularly difficult. If these things frustrate you to the extent that they seem to, you must be be living in your own personal hell.
    Give your Chromebook to someone who needs it and buy yourself a full-fledged laptop. However, I don't doubt that you'll be coming back with a piece about all its annoyances in a month or two.
    You need to learn to flow with life.

    • Linux Guy
      March 22, 2018 at 9:37 pm

      I agree. Chromebooks/boxes aren't that bad or hard to use unless you can't be bothered to educate yourself on what they are and how they work. The issue with the author is that they bought a Chromebook and expected it to run 100% identical to their Windows or Mac-based computer they normally use. I've had no issue running Chromebooks and boxes. The only gripe I had is when Google pulled the playstore from the dev and beta builds for a couple of older models that were on the list to get it but never did.

    • Thomas Mallory
      March 23, 2018 at 1:30 am

      The inability to print "normally", aka via network connection, becomes significantly LESS "trivial" when your preteen step-daughter needs to print homework assignments off her school-issued Chromebook before its battery dies, and the Chromebook's power adaptor was swiped months ago by a classmate of said step-daughter's, because kids these days.

      But then maybe you don't have children, either because you've chosen to stay out of the gene pool, or because you've not found someone willing to be impregnated by you, or because you were caught doing something you shouldn't have with the kids in your neighborhood, and a judge managed to save you from being drawn-and-quartered by the parents in that neighborhood first....and therefore you understand the abovementioned struggle as well as you understand how to conjugate verbs in Esperanto, which to say not at all.

      No problem. Just know that as a grain of sand in the eye can hide a mountain, what SEEMS like trivial matters to you are often daunting obstacles for others, and vice versa. For example, if your genetic disposition toward pancreatic cancer were to wake up and take over tomorrow, your eventual-and-guaranteed demise wouldn't trigger the end of Life, the Universe and Everything-it's not as though any of us knew you existed the in the first place-and thus make your death a triviality, but YOU'D still care, Bubbles. You'd still care.

      • Morty
        March 26, 2018 at 3:29 pm

        That's why if you have important docs you're working on. Back the darn things up to a flash drive or Google Drive as you work on them (which I believe is auto-implemented on Google Docs), which means you or your step daughter can just log into their Google account ANYWHERE and print it off. So, yes, it is very trivial if you educate yourself on how to use a product rather than throw a tantrum and expect someone else to do it for you instead.

    • Michel Basilieres
      March 23, 2018 at 2:45 am

      I agree. The worst one is about Word files. You do not have to use any extensions to edit Word files. He seems to think Google Docs is the only online office suite. Word Online, OneDrive and the rest of Office Online all work fine and collaboration is a supported feature.

    • Sjakie
      March 23, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Haha, this guy is an idiot. He should not only use a Chromebook, he also should never write an article again. I mean, really... Apps aren't really apps. Who gives a shit what language an application is written in? What is the annoyance in that? Using Spotify as example, he doesn't have a clue.
      He doesn't even know the difference between Chromebooks and ChromeOS. Stating that Chromebooks are severely limited is just plain wrong, since all of them can run a Linux distro. Sure, ChromeOS is limited, but I would never call it severely.

      • Ryan Dube
        March 23, 2018 at 1:30 pm

        Thanks for your input.

        This article was written for folks who purchase a Chromebook (which btw comes installed with ChromeOS by default, not a Linux distro), so these are the annoyances they will have to deal with. Thank you for at least agreeing that ChromeOS is limited. The fact that you don't find these things annoying and I do is fair enough -- people are allowed to be annoyed by different things.

        I do like the option to dual-boot into a Linux OS btw -- I've done that and actually love it. It's a bit of a hack since many of the hardware communication limitations still remain, but at least all of the GUI issues described here are resolved.

        • Linux_Guy
          March 24, 2018 at 9:21 am

          Technically ChromeOS is a Linux distro(based on Gentoo). It's just a proprietary one developed by and deployed only on Chromebooks/Chromeboxes.
          Ofen I'll either use Crouton to run Debian, or will use it to remote to one of my other *nix boxes (Fedora and Ubuntu). At first brush, I do suppose ChrOS can be frustrating, but once you get the hang of it, it's not nearly as bad as the first impression.