10 Alternatives to Your Favorite Windows Apps on Chrome OS

These days Chromebooks are pretty popular. Especially recently, as Google made it possible to install Android apps directly from the Play Store onto some Chromebooks. This has created an uptick in users switching from other operating systems (most notably Windows) to Google’s Chrome OS.

Still, many switchers have no idea what Chrome OS apps they can install to replace their favorite Windows apps. This is understandable, as the Chrome store tends to be cluttered. That’s why in this article we’ll go over some of the best replacements – from Email, to text editing, to Music, even including a replacement for the Windows 10 Phone Companion.

1. Outlook/Mail


On Windows 10 there are two email clients – one that users can get if they buy Microsoft Office Suite and the other a basic one that comes with Windows 10 and supports very basic email functions.

On Chrome OS there’s no Outlook, though if you really needed access to it there is always outlook.com which can be accessed in the Chrome browser.

Gmail allows you to import your email account into it. Even if you are not using a Gmail address, you can still check all your emails in Gmail. This is the perfect replacement for the desktop mail client in Windows.

The ability to read emails offline makes it look and function like a Desktop app.

2. Office


Most people often fool themselves into thinking they need an entire office suite when in all actuality what they need is a good text editor and maybe something for spreadsheets.

If you can’t live without Microsoft Office, access it via the Web with Office Online.

For everyone else there’s Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets. These three tools come built into Chrome OS and allow users to edit documents, make presentations and manage spreadsheets with ease. They’re not Microsoft Office caliber, but they will get the job done for most people.

3. Skype


Microsoft owns Skype, the worlds most popular video/audio calling tool. On Chrome OS it is possible to still use Skype (if you must) with the web interface, though it’s not that great.

The single best alternative to Skype on Chrome OS is Hangouts. Google has made a native app that works outside the browser and has support for text/image messaging, video/audio calling, group chat and more.

4. Notepad


For editing a simple text file, writing a batch file, or even more advanced programming, you can use Text for Chrome OS.

Text is an advanced, offline text editor with support for many different programming languages. It also works as a general text editor.

5. OneDrive


Accessing OneDrive on Chromebook can only be done via the OneDrive website. You might want to migrate to Google Drive for more accessibility in Chrome OS. With Google Drive users can easily go to the Chrome OS file manager, click on Drive, and access files (similar to Windows). Additionally, there is a “share to Drive” button.

There is also a Google Drive desktop client for Windows, so you can easily migrate your files from OneDrive to Google Drive and access them in your Chromebook.

6. OneNote


OneNote is a useful apps on Windows that allows its users to make and keep notes on their Windows desktops. On Chrome OS there is Google Keep.

Google Keep can easily be accessed on the Web.

7. Calendar


Chrome OS doesn’t exactly have a calendar, at least not out of the box. Google would prefer its users just go to the Google Calendar website.

Luckily, there’s an app for that: Clean Google Calendar. It takes Google’s Calendar, breaks it out of the Web, and cleans it up. Those looking for a solid alternative to the Windows Calendar on Chrome OS should get this.

8. Groove Music


Microsoft’s Groove music service allows Windows users to purchase songs and also upload their own files to Microsoft servers for playback on a multitude of devices including Windows, Windows Phone and even Xbox.

Google also has a similar service: Play Music. Similar to Groove on Google’s service, users can purchase music and upload their own to stream on Android and other devices. The service can be accessed on the Web.

9. Phone Companion


A new feature on Windows 10 is Phone Companion. With it users are able to receive notifications, send files back and forth, and receive notifications on the Windows desktop.

Google has yet to implement a feature like this, but it doesn’t really matter because there is Pushbullet, a service that allows users to view notifications from a mobile device on other devices. Users can also send SMS/MMS, transfer files, and push links back and forth.

Windows users who’ve switched over to Chrome OS and use this feature heavily should install Pushbullet.

10. Windows Photos


Photos by Google is a similar product and one available on Chrome OS (and other platforms). With Photos users can back up pictures directly to Google servers. There is unlimited storage for high definition photos, videos and animated images, and 15 GBs for higher resolution.


Chrome OS is a competent operating system for consumers. The problem is that because Google is so keen on using the Web for everything, finding good standalone apps to use can be challenging.

If you’re new to Chrome OS and looking to find a good place to start, I hope that this list will be a good resource. Keep in mind that beyond our list of great apps, there are many more, so be sure to check out the Chrome store.

Image credit: John KarakatsanisPC World

Derrik Diener
Derrik Diener

Derrik Diener is a freelance technology blogger.

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