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What you can and cannot do on a Chromebook


As you may know, the American University Library has a collection of Chromebooks for students whose personal laptops are temporarily out-of-order and have been sent for repairs. A student has to fill up the Chromebook Request Form with a proof of repair order, and the Media Services department can issue a Chromebook and charger to the student for the duration of the repair services. But since AU has so many courses with a variety of technical requirements, it’s important to understand what exactly you can do on a Chromebook and what are its limitations.  

In this blog post, we will take a comprehensive look at the capabilities of Chromebooks. We will discuss what you can and cannot do on these devices. 

What you can do on a Chromebook 

Chromebooks are designed to be used for web-based computing. This means that you can use them to browse the web, check your email, use social media, access Canvas, Microsoft 365 and watch videos online. Chromebooks also come with a suite of built-in apps, such as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. These apps allow you to create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. 

What you cannot do on a Chromebook 

Chromebooks have some limitations. One of the biggest limitations is that they cannot run traditional Windows or Mac software. This means that you cannot use popular software programs like Adobe Photoshop or Final Cut Pro on a Chromebook. Another limitation is that Chromebooks are not ideal for gaming. 

Pros and cons of Chromebooks 

Let’s take a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages. 


  • Affordable 
  • Easy to use 
  • Generally safe from virus and malware 
  • Long battery life 


  • Limited software compatibility: Chromebooks cannot run traditional Windows or Mac software. This can be a limitation for users who need to use specific software programs for work or school. 
  • Not ideal for gaming 
  • Requires an internet connection 

Tips for using a Chromebook 

Here are a few tips for using a Chromebook: 

  • Use cloud storage: Chromebooks come with a limited amount of storage space. To save space, it is best to store your files in the cloud, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. 
  • Use extensions: Extensions can add new features and functionality to your Chromebook. You can find extensions for the Chrome Web Store. However, we recommend only installing trusted Extensions. 
  • Keep your Chromebook up to date: Google releases updates for Chrome OS on a regular basis. These updates include security fixes and new features. It is important to keep your Chromebook up to date to ensure that it is secure and performing at its best. 


Chromebooks are great devices for students, and a really useful replacement option when your personal laptop is out-of-order. However, we recommend students to be aware of the limitations of Chromebooks before filling in a request form.

Follow the Media Services blog for more helpful insights on technology and media available to American University students. 

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