How to install Collabora Office on your Chromebook


If you are looking for a way to work with documents locally on your Chromebook, Collabora Office finally makes that a reality.

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Image: Jack Wallen

If you’re a Chromebook user, you’re well aware that the myths your device of choice can’t function without a network connection simply aren’t true; however, that functionality doesn’t always work as expected. For instance, you might forget to make a document or spreadsheet available offline, which means you’re out of luck when you’re offline. So when a full-blown office suite comes along–one that doesn’t require a cloud service or network connection to function–you jump on it.

That time has come. Thanks to Collabora Office Suite, fans of the Chromebook device can enjoy an office suite on their laptops that functions locally, as you’ve come to expect from such a tool. I’ll walk you through the process of installing Collabora on your Chromebook.

SEE: Tips for becoming a Chromebook expert (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

What you need to install Collabora Office on your Chromebook

The only thing needed to install Collabora Office is a Chromebook that supports the installation of applications from the Google Play Store. Considering Android app support was added to ChromeOS a few years back, chances are pretty good your device supports this action. 

How to enable Google Play Apps

The first thing you must do is enable the installation of Google Play Apps. To do that, open the Settings application, scroll down to the Apps section at the bottom, and click the entry for Google Play Store (Figure A).

Figure A

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Managing your apps on a Google Chromebook.

In the resulting window (Figure B), click Turn On (associated with the Google Play Store). You’ll need to accept the license agreement, so click More and then Accept. 

Figure B

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Enabling Google Play apps on a chromebook.

Once the enabling of Google Play Store is complete, you’re ready to install Collabora Office.

How to install Collabora Office

After you enable the Google Play Store, it will open, ready for you to find and install applications. Click the search field and type Collabora. When the Collabora Office entry appears, click Install. Allow the installation to complete and then either click Open to open Collabora Office or close the Google Play Store and open Collabora Office via your Chromebook app menu by clicking the menu button, typing “collabora,” and clicking the entry that appears. When you first open Collabora Office, you’ll need to grant it permission to access photos, media, and files (Figure C).

Figure C

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Granting Collabora Office the necessary permissions on Chrome OS.

How to use Collabora Office

When you open Collabora Office, you’ll see what looks like a fairly empty window (Figure D).

Figure D

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The Collabora opening window is pretty blank.

The document create button is missing. The only way I have been able to consistently make that button appear is by opening a document from Google Drive and closing that document–then the + button will appear. To open a document from Google Drive, click the folder icon in the top right and then navigate to a document in your Drive account. Once that document has opened, close it out, and you’ll see the document create button appear in the bottom right corner (Figure E).

Figure E

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The document create button has finally appeared.

Click the document create button and then select either New Spreadsheet, New Presentation, or New Text Document (Figure F).

Figure F

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Creating a new spreadsheet, presentation, or document from within Collabora Office on a chromebook.

The document create button is really flaky–it will vanish at the strangest times. If it does, close and reopen Collabora Office, and it will reappear.

Another item of note: In order to edit documents from Drive, they must be moved to Play Files, which you’ll find in the My Files app (Figure G).

Figure G

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The Play Files entry is found in the left sidebar of My Files.

If you download a file, simply copy or move it from Downloads to Play Files, and you’ll be able to edit the document/spreadsheet/presentation within Collabora Office.

Enjoy that fresh new smell of productivity on your Chromebook.

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