Chromebook: Manual for Mac User – 2016

I’ve been exploring the current state of Chromebooks this past week and I wanted to document all of the analogous softwares and workflows I use to be productive on a Chromebook if you are coming from a Mac. From word processing to photo editing, here is my list of recommended software alternatives if you are switching from a Mac to a Chromebook:


Chromebook: CloudMagic

Mac: Mail

CloudMagic offers similar functionality in terms of adding multiple accounts and sorting emails to their respective inboxes and folders as the Mac Mail client. On my Chromebook I added Gmail, Yahoo Mail, iCloud, and Office 365 emails to the CloudMagic app in a couple minutes. So far, I’ve been really pleased with the performance of CloudMagic, not to mention it is a nice looking app to use for reading and writing email.


Chromebook: Sunrise Calendar

Mac: Calendar

I needed a way to access my iCloud calendars, Google calendars, and work Exchange calendars from one app on my Chromebook and Sunrise Calendar allows me to easily do this. However, first you need to sync your calendars from another device, and if you need to use iCloud calendars, you have to install the Sunrise Calendar app to an iPhone, iPad or an Android device first (this will not work from the Mac version of Sunrise Calendar). Once, you overcome this syncing hurdle, Sunrise Calendar works well and looks great for organizing meetings and events. Unfortunately, this solution may not be viable in the future as the team behind Sunrise Calendar is now working for Microsoft and does not plan to provide updates to their Sunrise Calendar product in the foreseeable future. For now, it is my recommendation, but be aware it may not be a permanent calendar client solution for Chomebooks.

Office Suite

Chromebook: Google Docs Suite –> Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides

Mac: iWork –> Pages, Numbers, & Keynote

My go to office software on my Mac is Pages, Numbers, & Keynote. Although you can use to access these apps, the Google Docs suite loads much faster for me on Chromebook. If you prefer using Microsoft Office, you are also able to use on a Chromebook if you have an Office 365 subsription. However, the Google Docs suite still loads faster for me and benefits from the Google Drive integration that is part of the Chrome operating system. All that to say, you can always export documents, spreadsheets or presentation slides to their most universal formats (.doc, .ppt, .xls) with any of these aforementioned office suites on a Chromebook.


Chromebook: Google Play Music

Mac: iTunes

If you are not already using Spotify (or another music service), I recommend Google Play Music on Chromebook. Before you move from your Mac, use the Google Play Music Manager app to upload all of your iTunes music into Google Play Music. Once complete, you are able to stream all of your music to your Chromebook from As an added benefit, from this point, you will be able to stream your Google Play Music to your Android phone, iPhone, or any computer that can access

Photo Storage

Chromebook: Google Photos

Mac: Photos

Since Chromebooks have very limited amounts of internal storage my suggestion for storing photos is Google Photos. Similar to the process of uploading your music to Google Play Music, there is a way to upload all of your pictures from your Mac before you move to a Chromebook. Use the Google Photos Uploader software to store all of your pictures in Google Photos for free. Once your images are uploaded, you will be able to access them from your Chromebook (or any other computer) using In fact, this is a great solution to combine your library of photos from all of your computers and mobile devices into one place!

Photo Editor (Simple)

Chromebook: Canva

Mac: Preview

For basic editing beyond what Mac Photos and Google Photos offer, Canva is my recommendation. Canva can be used to alter the pixel dimensions of a photo and is robust enough to be used as an alternative to Photoshop for basic photo editing. Not to mention, Canva is way easier to use than a traditional photo editor. Just be aware Canva requires signing up for an account before you start creating memes and other graphics from your Chromebook!


Chromebook: Slacky

Mac: Slack

I use Slack at work to instant message my coworkers from my phone or laptop. It is a great alternative or supplement to email when having online conversations. I prefer the Slacky app to the regular Slack app in the Chrome Web store because Slacky displays Slack within its own window. This makes it is easier to separate Slack messages from other work I am doing on my Chromebook since I can minimize Slacky.


Chromebook: Tweetdeck

Mac: Twitter & Tweetdeck

Simply add the Tweetdeck app from the Web App store to your Chromebook and you will have similar access to Twitter as you would on your Mac. The only difference is that Tweetdeck on Chromebook is used through the web browser versus its own window like the app that is available on Mac.


Chromebook: Trello External Window

Mac: Trello Website

Trello has been my main app for tracking of projects and to-do lists for the last year. I recommend using the Trello External Window app on Chromebook for the same reasons I prefer Slacky to the regular Slack app, it has an external window interface. This makes it easier to separate Trello content from other web browser work.


Chromebook: Feedly

Mac: Feedly Website

To access RSS news feeds, I have used Feedly for a long time. It keeps me up-to-date with education blogs and technology news outlets I follow. Like with Tweetdeck, add this app to your Chromebook and you are ready to access news the same way you would have on your Mac.


This list of 10 Chromebook recommendations covers many of my major productivity needs and workflows that I am accustomed to on my Mac. I hope it has been helpful to you! Also, I am happy to continue this list if you are interested in more suggestions, just let me know.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Tran Mau Tri Tam via Unsplash.

Information in Motion

Originally posted on the Center for Teaching Excellence Blog

In the real world, nothing teleports from one place to another. And that’s why it’s so important to animate every change on screen in a way that makes sense.

Matias Duarte, Vice President of Design, Android at Google

Nowadays, animation is being integrated into the devices we are using more and more often. For example, iOS 7 from Apple uses motion to communicate the navigation of their devices. So, when a user selects an App folder, she or he “zooms” into that folder. When a user launches an App, she or he “zooms” into that App. And now, with the announcement of Android L, Google is also emphasizing the role motion plays in communicating information to the user.

So how is this relevant to education?

First and foremost, educators should consider how to present information to students in terms of how the student can best comprehend the content. In some cases, this may include animation in PowerPoint slides (or any other instructional medium). Instead of transitioning between slides by having elements disappear and reappear, educators should pair changes in information with on-screen transitions that indicate how the information is changing. This can be powerful when trying to express specific points. When the goal of the instructor is to clearly communicate to her or his students, purposeful motion can be used to enhance this exchange.

Consider a few examples of how motion can be used in software to present information:

To demonstrate gradients like pressure differentials using motion; to demonstrate the migration of a population or the spread of a technology on a map; to demonstrate the history of the universe with a timeline that uses motion to illustrate how long humans have spent in existence. All of these are ways in which motion can be used to enhance the learning experience of students.

But how does one start to incorporate motion into her or his course materials?

My suggestion is to start by adding motion to components of your presentation that would benefit the most from motion. Whether that is smoothing transitions of information or demonstrating concepts that involve motion, these are ways in which movement can be integrated into presentations.

The following tools are just a few that can be used to create such animation:

• Magic Move Transitions in Keynote

• Animations in PowerPoint

• Builds & Actions in Keynote

• Transitions in Prezi

• Annotations in Explain Everything

• Annotations in Doceri

Before you begin animating content for a presentation, I would like to bring your attention to something that can easily be overdone in a motion-enhanced presentation.   It is easy to incorporate too much animation into a presentation. I have seen many presentations that suffer from too much animation that detracts from the informational content. On the other hand, I have seen some phenomenal presentations that appropriately utilize motion to illustrate how content transitions and develops.

The one thing every educator should take away from this post is that information is inherent in motion, and consequently, instructors should consider how it can be utilized pedagogically in the classroom.

If you have any questions about the content covered here please leave a comment below or tweet me @CraZyIriShman7.