To register your Chromebook you need a Google account. The first person who registers on a power-washed or new Chromebook will be the owner. Anyone who registers their Google account other than the owner will have roughly the same options when using it.
Having the ability to add more than one user to a Chromebook is a great option. However, you need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of having more than one user registered to a Chromebook.
Advantages of using multiple users on Chrome OS
There are many advantages to each person using the Chromebook to register their Google account separately. We all want to ensure we have a certain amount of privacy from others even if they are family members. Registering a second user avoids you having to worry about any privacy concerns.
Anything you do when logged into your own account is not visible to any others users. This includes the downloads folder, which is where you download files from the internet. Each user has their own separate downloads folder, so you’ll not see any downloaded files another registered user has in their downloads folder.
This will also be the same when it comes to the Chrome browser. Because you’re signing into your Chromebook with your own account. Any bookmarks and website visiting history are different for each user who is registered to use the device.
Android apps for multiple users
When you install Android apps on your Chromebook they are logged against your Google account. Therefore, each user will only see the Android apps they install. This is beneficial if users tend to use different types of Android apps.
This means you can install and remove Android apps without having to worry if another user is using the app. If you do happen to use the same Android apps you don’t need to be concerned about any changes you make to those apps impacting other users.
Chrome OS settings with multiple users
Having multiple users registered on a Chromebook means you can tailor Chrome OS settings to your own specific needs. Most of the settings in Chrome OS will not impact others users, which means you can set up the Chromebook just the way you like it.
Any changes you make to change how your Chromebook works will not impact others. For example, one user may like to use the default app launcher whilst another may prefer to enable the new Chrome OS app launcher menu.
You may want to take advantage of the new Chromebook Calendar, but don’t want to change the settings if it interferes with other users. This is the advantage of registering more than one user on a Chrome OS computer. The settings you choose don’t impact other users.
Disadvantages of having multiple users registered on a Chromebook
There are many benefits to registering each user individually on a Chromebook. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t some disadvantages you need to consider.
The main concern of having more than one user registered on a Chromebook is storage space. Chrome OS computers typically have a lot less storage than other types of computers such as Microsoft Windows.
This is because it’s a cloud computer, so you don’t need as much storage. Although you can install Android and Linux apps, which do take up storage. You need less storage because you can do a lot of tasks directly from the Chrome browser or by using a PWA app.
Chrome OS storage with multiple users
If you have more than one user registered on your Chromebook. You’ll most likely find that your storage is used up a lot quicker than if there were just one user. Although you may be surprised just how much you can install on a Chromebook even with 32GB of storage. You’ll easily use more storage if more than one user is registered to the device.
The downloads folder is one of the first things you’d need to think about. Because each user has their own downloads folder, you can imagine how quickly this could use up storage space. Having separate Chrome OS settings and Chrome browser settings shouldn’t have too much of an impact on storage.
Depending on how many Android apps each user installs. May also mean your Chromebook storage is used up a lot quicker with multiple users. One user may only install Android apps, which take up very little room. Another user may install different types of Android apps such as games with advanced graphics. Some apps can take up over 1GB of storage whilst others need as little as a couple of MB.
If you have a Chromebook that is capable of installing Linux Apps. Then I’d strongly encourage you to take advantage of this. Find out how to install Linux on Chrome OS, and make it easy to install apps by using a Linux App store.
Linux Apps are different to Android apps because you can find full programs to install such as GIMP or an office suite like Libre Office. This also means some of the Linux apps you install can take up a lot of storage space.
Installing Linux apps is different to installing Android apps on Chrome OS. Before you can start installing apps you need to install Linux. When you install Linux you’ll be asked how much storage you’d like to reserve for Linux. Once you’ve reserved a certain amount of storage for Linux it will not be available for other use. It’s very similar to creating a separate partition on a hard disk.
A Linux install is user-specific, which means if you install Linux on your Chromebook no other user will be able to use it. For them to also use Linux they would need to create a Linux install. If both users create a Linux install with 10GB of storage, that would be 20GB of storage reserved for Linux across both users.
Multiple users using the same Google Account
If you’re concerned about the amount of storage space you have available. An option is for users to use the same Google Account. However, this may not be something that many people would be comfortable with. I’d strongly advise against this with anyone other than close family members because they’d have access to a lot of your personal information.
Although you could potentially save storage space by doing this. You’ll have no privacy from other users who use the same account on your Chromebook. Also, any changes a user makes will have a direct impact on other users.
It’s much easier for users to make changes that may impact others without realising. Therefore, you would need to consider whether this is the best option. Personally, I would not want to share the same account, as it’s much better and safer to have a separate user login when using the same Chromebook.
Using a Chromebook with multiple users
If you have more than one household member who needs to use the same Chromebook. The best thing to do is to discuss how each user will use the device. You can easily have multiple users registered on a Chromebook without using too much storage if you all follow the same rules.
The first thing to do is to make sure you’re taking advantage of saving files in the cloud. All Google accounts come with their own cloud storage, and 15GB of this is available for free. If each user saves their downloads to Google Drive rather than the downloads folder. This should help keep storage used to a minimum.
When it comes to Linux and Android Apps. It’s best to try and ensure neither user gets carried away by installing too many apps. When you share the same computer you need to be considerate of other users. The easiest way to use up your Chromebook storage is if more than one user installs Linux, so you’d want to try and avoid doing this if possible.
Limit who can register on your Chromebook
The good news is you can limit the users who can use your Chromebook. This may be something you want to do if members of your household are not respecting your wishes. If you live in a huge household, you may need to take further steps to protect your Chromebook.
One way of doing this is by deciding who can register on your Chromebook. Providing you have their Google Account details. You can set it up in advance, so only a select few Google accounts can register in the future.
If you need to go one step further. You can simply remove the option that allows people to register on your Chromebook. To find out more about how to do this. Take a look at my article on how to restrict who can register on your Chromebook.
Take advantage of the Chrome OS Guest user
Something else you may want to consider is to ask others to log in as a guest. Doing this will avoid them from using up too much of your local storage space. It’s a great way to let someone use your Chromebook without giving them access to your own User access.
You could follow the steps from the link above to limit who can register, and ask any other users to log in as a guest. This would be a good way to try and ensure too much storage space isn’t used up by having too many people registered on the same device.
The ability to register more than one user on a Chromebook or Chromebox is a great option. It allows all users to keep their information separate from other users.
The ability to have your own downloads folder and Android apps, and the ability to change your Chrome OS and browser settings are all the benefits of having multiple users registered on your Chrome OS device.
However, you do need to keep a close eye on your storage if more than one person uses the same Chromebook. By following the steps I’ve mentioned, you should easily be able to share your Chromebook without coming across any issues.