Setting Up Sync on Your Chromebook

Why enable sync on your Chromebook?

With Chromebook sync, you can automatically synchronize your personal Chrome configuration across multiple Chromebooks or any PC/Mac computer with the Chrome browser installed. All of your saved apps, settings, and so on are connected to your main Google account, so you can access them from literally any computer.

What Things Can be Synced?

Sign in screen on Samsung Series 5 Chromebook

The Chrome Sync feature built into Chromebooks makes them just as ideal for multiple users as single users.

When we say the word sync, we’re not talking just bookmarks, although if that’s all the sync feature in Chrome was, it would still be well worth enabling. In the “Confirm Sync Preferences” box, you can set the following data to be synced (or not synced):

  • Web Bookmarks
  • Apps
  • Chrome Extensions
  • Appearance/Theme
  • Browser Preferences and Settings
  • Saved Passwords
  • Omnibox History
  • Form Autofills (not including credit card numbers)

Again, just to make it as clear as possible: you can individually check or uncheck each of these options to include or exclude them from being synced. If you’re paranoid about your autofills (and who isn’t?) and don’t want them synced, but do want to sync your apps and extensions, you can set your Chromebook to do just that.

Under this list, you’ll find advanced encryption settings (see Sync Security and Encryption below).

In essence, the benefit of enabling Chrome sync is ensuring that you have everything you need no matter which Chromebook (or other computer) you’re using. Since Chrome sync saves your personal browser preferences and settings, it also makes sure that you feel “at home” even if you’re using a friend’s computer.

Naturally, this means that multiple people can use the same Chromebook, with each person being allowed to keep their own personal apps, theme, extensions, bookmarks, and so on, simply by signing in with their Google account. When you sign out of Chrome, no trace of these customizations are left behind.

Chromebook apps synced

Sign into Chrome on a friend's computer, and all your Chromebook apps and extensions will be there.

Because the environment is exactly the same, you can work seamlessly between multiple Chromebooks and computers with Chrome installed. No worries about saving a specific bookmark on your home desktop and needing it while you’re at work or out at the coffee shop with your Chromebook, or vice versa. With the sync function, you can set it so that the bookmarks (including folder/tree structure) will be exactly the same. All you have to do to access your bookmark list is sign into Chrome.

This is particularly useful for those times you’re over at a friend’s house struggling to find something you know is bookmarked on your computer. If you work or go to college, I don’t even have to explain how many different ways this feature alone could save your bacon in a time crunch.

Moreover, all additions (or changes) to your settings are 100% instant — well, give or take a few nanoseconds. You can, if you’re into this sort of arms-folded test, sign into two Chromebooks side-by-side and add/delete a bookmark, change the theme, add an extension, and so on, and see it reflected immediately on the other Chromebook screen. One of the main purposes of Chrome sync is to be automatic, as well as instant, so there are no extra buttons to push or dialog boxes to confirm. It just works. Set it and forget it. All that.

Chromebook Sync Security and Encryption

According to Google, the synced data is encrypted as soon as it leaves your Chromebook and travels to the cloud. Passwords in particular go through an extra layer of heavy encryption, being stored with a very secure encryption key.

Under the dialog where you select which things you want to include in the sync, you will find some “Advanced Encryption Settings.” Here, you can choose whether or not you want to encrypt all your Chromebook’s synced information. Optionally, you can also enter in a secondary passphrase you would like to use in lieu of your Google password.

Deleting Cloud Sync Data

As it’s now 2012 and these sort of things are of particularly high concern, I’ll note that you can easily request that Google remove ALL of your synced information from its cloud servers at any time. Now, I’m a Chromebook man, and I honestly can’t think of any reason you’d want to do this. If for nothing else than peace of mind, the way to go about doing this on a Chromebook is, simply:

  1. Click on the wrench icon.
  2. Select Signed in as… or Sign into Chrome…
  3. Select Dashboard.
  4. Go to the Chrome Sync section of the dashboard, and click the button that says Stop sync and delete data from Google servers.

Note: When you complete this step, Google will no longer keep track of your data for syncing. In other words, you will still have your apps, bookmarks, extensions, and so on on your Chromebook, but they will no longer sync automatically so you can sign into Chrome on any computer and access your things.

Important: Even with all the security, one thing you don’t want to do is sign into Chrome on a public computer (say, at a library, school, college, etc.). That’s just never a good idea, in the same way you’d never want to check “Remember this password” or “Keep me logged in” on a site while you’re browsing on someone else’s computer.

I hope this article has helped you learn more about syncing with your Chromebook. For more information, guides, and reviews related to Chromebooks, please take a leisurely stroll around the site and, especially, check out our reviews of Samsung and Acer Chromebooks. Thanks for reading!

About the Author

"Just me and a CR-48."