Use a Chrome Extension to Find a Lost or Stolen Notebook

One highly (lowly?) under-rated benefit of Chromebooks is — for lack of a much better word — what we’ll call the “disposable” aspect. Now before you carry your computer out to the recycle bin, let me clarify a bit. Indeed, the term “disposable” here is very misleading, as no one is suggesting you dispose your Chromebook. In fact, to the contrary, Chromebooks are perhaps the least disposable type of laptop since they are built on a platform that continually improves itself. A computer that becomes faster at doing things over time, rather than the opposite, is nothing to get rid of on a whim.

Let’s try “replaceable” instead. That sounds a bit more accurate.

Chromebook locator

Pictured: A sneaky criminal who wants to look at your Excel sheets.

What is meant is that, with the Google Chromebook having its foundation firmly in the cloud, in the absolute worst case scenario (a laptop theft, leaving it on a plane, etc.) the Chromebook does not make your private information available to anyone who gets ahold of it. That information you don’t want some unscrupulous individual to have access to is stored in the cloud, not on the computer itself. Therefore, without knowing your login information, they’ve basically come into possession of a blank laptop. Whew.

The second benefit is that you can simply head to Amazon or walk into Best Buy and buy a brand new Chromebook, type in your username and password, and pick up exactly where you left off before your old Chromebook was lost. All your files are still there, safe and sound. All your Chrome OS preferences are exactly the way you left them. In effect, other than the nominal cost of replacing the Chromebook, you never really lost it in the first place. Now, compare that to the anxiety felt when a traditional laptop with all your personal documents and pictures on the physical hard drive is lost or stolen.

Laptop Lookout for Chrome

Regardless, no one wants the laptop they spent their hard-earned money for stolen. So, why are we even talking about this? Well, I just came across an extension available for Chrome called Laptop Lookout that can help you locate your Chromebook if it is unexpectedly stolen (are things generally stolen expectedly?).

Google map pin

There it is! I've located the stolen Chromebook! It's under a big A.

If someone gets ahold of your Chromebook, and, at the very worst, is able to log in under your account, Laptop Lookout and the GPS location sensor inside your Chromebook will kick in. Now, we don’t recommend just hopping in the car and going to retrieve your laptop, unless you recognize the place as your old “friend’s” house (Gary? I can’t believe it!), but your local police will sure be appreciative of the help.

Plus, not only does the extension allow you to track your laptop down on a map with the Chromebook’s built-in GPS, but it includes a keylogger you can access to find out what the person who stole your laptop is typing, what website they were on, and when. Now, I’ve never personally lost my Chromebook (and I’m not really wanting to have it stolen) so I can’t personally vouch for it, but the idea behind the extension is completely sound. Notebook gets stolen, see it pinpointed on a map, you know exactly where it is. Similar to the apps recently made available for the iPhone and Apple notebooks, the same type of technology is now available for the Google Chromebook.

According to the developer, upcoming features for the Laptop Lookout extension include clearing cookies (such as signed-in sessions, saved logins, etc.) and blocking access to websites of your choice (I’m not sure what the exact point of this is, but I’d love to mess with the person who stole my laptop by making Google and, say, Pinterest off-limits all the same).

What’s really intriguing to me is the idea (or possibility) that, if you have Chrome Sync set up, it seems like you can actually install the locator extension on your Chromebook remotely from another instance of Chrome; meaning, even if your Chromebook was already stolen, you could install it on your Chromebook by signing into Chrome on another computer and installing the Laptop Lookout extension and having it sync. I don’t know if it would work exactly that way (the developer’s website says there is something they can do if you’ve already lost your laptop), but, if so, wow. Also, the Chrome extension and the service are free, which is doubly, no, triply cool.

Do you know of any other cool extensions to enhance the Chromebook experience even further? Tell me!

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