Free up space on Chromebook – mount a NAS!


Most Chromebooks have relatively tight onboard storage space. 64 GB is quite decent and with 128 GB you are completely king in the world of Chrome OS. If you want to free up space on your Chromebook, you can do this, for example, by transferring the files to a NAS. This is how it works.

Practice shows that you don’t even need that much storage space for daily use of a Chromebook. The idea is that you mainly use progressive web apps (PWAs), which run in the browser. Think of Google Docs, where you immediately store all your documents in the cloud.

But still: if you are going to download something larger, it is not wise to leave such a download (such as a purchased music album or even a movie) on the often modest internal SSD of your Chromebook. That is why we tell you how a NAS can offer a solution.

Do you want to know how much storage space you have left on your Chromebook, pinned external device or the shared NAS folder? Select the folder or location and click the dots button at the top right of the window Files

In the opened menu you will see the free space at the very bottom.

Access network folder

A NAS is currently and remains the most handy device for centrally storing your files at home and in smaller business environments. It also makes exchanging between, say, mobile devices, a traditional PC or Mac and the Chromebook a breeze. So let’s first access a shared network folder from the Chromebook.

For that you start the app Filesfound on the dock (aka the Shelf as it is called in Dutch). Its icon is in the shape of a blue circle with a sea green archive folder inside. Click on it to open the app.

You should now see a window that is quite similar to Windows Explorer, or the Finder in macOS. On the left you will find collection folders (‘libraries’) and the folder My files with at least the folder below Downloads and depending on how your Chromebook is configured and used, may have more folders. In addition, it is good to know that the default folder that Chrome OS actually uses as the default for everything is Downloads.

In principle, you will not only find your downloads here, but also documents, for example. Not very surprising, because if you create a Word document in the web environment of, for example, Office 365, you download that file in the browser via a download action. However, screenshots taken also end up in the Downloads folder, just like various other things that you generate here or there.

After a while there will undoubtedly be a few things in this folder. And it is the first location you open to clean. To choose a NAS share as the storage destination – because we are going to move our files – click the button with the three dots at the top right of the Files window. Then click on Services and then on SMB file share.

IP address and account information

Type the IP address of your NAS in the field below URL for file sharein the following form: \192.168.1.139share† Whereby the actual IP address and the name of the share should of course be replaced with what applies to you. Then type the username and password of the desired NAS account that has access rights to the respective shared folder.

Leave you the checkbox for the option Remember login detailsn is checked, then you do not have to enter any account details the next time you connect. Of course, only use that option if the Chromebook is yours and managed by you. Finally click on the button To add† The shared folder will now appear in the column on the left, below Google Drive

Click on the newly added network folder and you will see its contents, including any subfolders and so on. The share on the NAS is now just via Files accessible.

Click on the map in the left column Downloads† Select (for example) all files via Control-A. Alt-click (i.e.: hold down the Alt key and click on the trackpad, this is the right-click equivalent on the Chromebook) anywhere in the selection and then in the opened context menu click cut

Paste into a NAS folder

In the column to the right, click the network share you just added. It is useful to create a separate subfolder per ‘clean-up date’, so that you do not get conflicts with file names. We have a folder Chromebook created, containing the folder Map Downloads and then a folder named the current date.

Make sure that folder is open and Alt-click in this empty folder and choose in the opened context menu this time for the option paste† All selected files are now transferred. If you have a large collection of large files, the transfer speed (and therefore the copy time) is very dependent on a WiFi connection.

If it takes you too long, you can buy a USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet dongle. Wired then goes at full speed.

Shrink files

All our files from the Downloads folder have now been transferred to the NAS share. Mission accomplished. If you want to save some extra space on the NAS or on a local folder on the SSD of your Chromebook, you can also zip files. To do this, select one or more files in a folder (you can select multiple files in the same way as you know from Windows, for example, using Control or Shift clicks).

Alt-click the selection and choose the option in the context menu Add selected files to zip file† Then a zip is created with the default name archive.zip

To make this very universal file name more recognizable, Alt-click on the zip and then click in the opened context menu Renaming† Type a new name and you’re done.

Deleting a file is a matter of selecting the unwanted file (or a selection of files, again) and then clicking the trash can at the top right of the Files window. Or Alt-click and choose remove and again remove for confirmation.

Safe Eject

Finally, an important note: To avoid file loss or damage – just like with any other computer – never just pull a USB stick or other external storage medium from your Chromebook. Use the eject symbol behind that device in the column to the left or Alt-click on the device to be ejected and then click Eject device in the opened context menu. In both cases, wait for the device to disappear from the list!

In case it concerns a storage medium, you will also find an option in the same context menu to format the case. To disconnect from a shared network folder, Alt-click the share and then Close

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