Tech Talk Live Blog

Google Chrome Administration Tips and Tricks

Dave Light

Over the last few years, I have learned some of the ins and outs of G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps for Education or GAFE).  Here are some tips and tricks for managing your Chrome OS devices and users.

Whitelisted Domains

The whitelisted domains setting within the Google Admin center lets users in your organization interact with an external organization.  This setting can be found under the main ‘Domains’ setting and then under ‘Whitelisted external domains’. Each domain name is set individually, including any subdomains.  For example, contoso.local and students.contoso.local are set individually if staff and students are located in separate domains or subdomains.  Google limits you to a maximum of 50 domains in this list. Google Drive and Classroom both use this setting to control access to these applications.

Within the Classroom admin settings (Apps > G Suite > Settings for Classroom), an administrator may control ‘Who can join classes in your domain’ or ‘Which classes can users in your domain join’. Setting this option to Users in whitelisted domains will allow users in that domain list to join classes.  This allows teachers and staff to invite students from the individual districts they serve.  For this to work, both domains must trust each other.  The individual district must allow students to join classes from external domains.  This is controllable via the other setting on the same page.  An administrator from the external student domain must allow users to join classrooms in either whitelisted domains or any G Suite class.

Kiosk Mode

Deploying apps in Kiosk mode is extremely useful and rather quick to deploy.  Kiosk apps are great in situations where you need to lock down a device to a single app.  Locking down a Chromebook to student testing software and locking down a Chromebox to a digital signage application are two examples.

Sign Builder

Google’s Chrome Sign Builder is an app that an administrator deploys to a Chrome OS device to display digital sign content.  The settings for the app contain a schedule of when to display the digital sign and where the content is located.

First, the app will need to be deployed to the device.  Within the Google Admin console, go to Device Management > Chrome Management > Device settings.  Select the OU (Organizational Unit) where the device resides.  When setting the Kiosk app to launch automatically, make sure that the OU selected only contains that device.  Under Kiosk Settings click on ‘Manage Kiosk Applications’.  Select Chrome Web Store and search for Chrome Sign Builder.  Click Add.  Click Save to save the changes in that window.  If you would like to force the Kiosk app to launch on device startup, select the Chrome Sign Builder app from the ‘Auto-Launch Kiosk App’ setting.  Then click Save again on the main page.

Next,download the Chrome Sign Builderfrom the Chrome web store to your Chrome Browser.  Within the app, you can set the schedule of when you would like the content displayed along with the URL of the content.  Once the schedule is set, click Export to save it to your computer.

Back in the Google Admin center, go to Device Management > App Management and select Chrome Sign Builder.  Click on Kiosk settings and select the OU containing the device on which you are deploying the digital sign. ‘Install automatically’ should already be selected.  Under the configure setting, click override then click the ‘Upload Configuration file’.  Select the file that you exported in the previous step.  Click Save to save your changes.

The next time your Chrome OS device starts up, it will automatically launch the Chrome Sign Builder app in Kiosk mode and display the content during the scheduled times.

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