Using a Flash Drive or Memory Card with Chromebook

As is widely known, Chromebooks tend to have small internal hard drives. Most users will probably find themselves getting external storage one day. The most common way to increase the storage capacity of a Chromebook is getting a USB flash drive. There are many different USB flash drives that are compatible with Chromebooks. Files saved locally are stored in the Downloads folder. You can also save to external storage media, such as an SD card or a USB flash drive. Remember that files can be deleted from a download folder in ChromeOS when the disk space is limited. Thus, it is recommended to find other storage options if you intend on downloading many things to your Chromebook.

Chromebooks include only a small amount of internal storage. However, they support external storage devices like USB flash drives, external hard drives, and microSD cards. Use an external storage device to expand your Chromebook’s storage or transfer files between Chromebooks and other computers, including Windows PCs and Mac

Once a USB flash drive or a SD memory card is purchased, it is very easy to use with a Chromebook. Just plug it in and it will start working. Most Chromebook users will want to do a few more things with the USB flash drives that they purchase. This short tutorial will show how to move files from a Chromebook to a USB flash drive, how to format a USB flash drive on a Chromebook, and how to delete files from a USB flash drive on a Chromebook. If you need more storage space on your Chromebook, it might be best to purchase a Chromebook compatible external harddrive. If you do not need that much, it might make sense to get an SD card that works with Chromebooks.

How do I transfer files to/from My Flash Drive/Memory card on My Chromebook?

You can transfer your files manually to your Flash Drive or Memory card using your Chromebook. The flash drive (whether an SDCard or a USB Stick) should auto-open the files app.

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  1. Open the Files app by clicking on the icon.
  2. When connected to your Chromebook, the device appears as a folder in the left navigation panel of the Files app.
  3. Click to place check marks next to any files and folders you want to copy.
  4. Drag and drop the selected items to copy them between the external drive and Chromebook.

Alternatively, press Ctrl + C to copy the selected items to the clipboard, navigate to the desired destination, and then press Ctrl + V to paste to the new location. It is this easy to move files around the ChromeOS “file explorer”

Formatting a Memory Card or Flash Drive using Chromebook

How Do I format My Memory card/Flash drive on my Chrome book? Below are the steps to Format a Memory card/Flash drive on a Chromebook. A formatting option is available directly from the File Manager; no extra apps, add-ons or actions needed.

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  1. Click the apps icon button  and then click Files or use the keyboard shortcut Alt+Shift+M.
  2. Right-click on the drive you wish to format and select the ‘Format Device‘ option from the menu.
  3. Chrome OS will prompt you to confirm that you wish to format. To proceed click ‘OK’.
  4. When formatting has completed you will see a small toast appear in the lower right hand corner.

Devices are formatted to a FAT32 file system. This is perhaps the most versatile and widely supported, with read and write support through most operating systems and devices (such as smartphones and digital cameras). FAT32 is inferior to NTFS or /ext3 or 4. The file allocation table gets hosed easily, too, and I’m certain Chrome OS has no utilities to deal with that problem, either. More information on Chromebook file systems.

File Formats compatible with Chromebook

There is a come question, “My files saved on the Flash Drive/Memory Card are not opening in Chromebook” How can I open certain file types of a Chromebook? Do all file types work on a Chromebook? In order to view files on from your memory card/USB flash drive using your Chromebook, the files must be in a compatible format.

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The following file formats are supported on Chromebooks:

  • Microsoft Office files: .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt (read-only), .pptx (read-only)
  • Media: .3gp, .avi, .mov, .mp4, .m4v, .m4a, .mp3, .mkv, .ogv, .ogm, .ogg, .oga, .webm, .wav
  • Images: .bmp, .gif, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .webp
  • Compressed files: .zip, .rar
  • Other: .txt, .pdf

Deleting Files on a Chromebook USB Flash Drive

Troubleshoot Issues with USB Flashdrive on Chromebook

If you have multiple SDCards and/or USB Sticks, you could try them to see if some are detected and others not. You could try the USB Stick on a different computer. That is about all we can suggest from afar like this since it really requires hands-on testing to try to determine if it is a bad USB port, a bad flash drive,or what exactly is going on. If the analysis still is inconclusive, then a ChromeOS restore might be the way to go to make certain everything is working fine: Recover your Chromebook (also known as Powerwashing a Chromebook).

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