I’ve said it so often that I’m probably starting to sound like a broken record, but Chrome OS (and, by extension, Chromebooks and Chromeboxes) are not simply glorified internet browsers. You can do so much more with Chrome OS, including managing your files, editing your documents offline, managing multiple email accounts, watching and editing movies, and more. Increasingly, they are able to do almost everything that other notebooks running Windows or OS X can do – and some might argue that they can do certain things even better (instant resume, anyone?). Photo editing is one of those things that, as it turns out, Chromebooks are pretty good at.

This is the first in a short series on photo editing – over the next few days, I’ll be looking at a few photo editing solutions in detail, going over some of the advantages and disadvantages to each. And what better place to start than the built-in native photo editor?

As a side note, I’m currently running the latest dev version of Chrome OS on my Samsung Chromebook. As such, some of the screenshots might look slightly different from your own, or there may be new features here that haven’t yet made their way to beta or stable channels (I don’t think there are, but it’s worth mentioning just in case). That being said, let’s get down to business.

To get started, simply navigate to any photo you’ve stored on your Chromebook; it doesn’t matter whether you’re using the internal storage or Google Drive. Open the photo as normal, using the Chromebook’s native photo viewer. Then, click the pencil icon next to the trash can on the lower right hand side.

You’ll see the following appear at the bottom of your photo viewer:

You can choose to overwrite the original photo, or deselect that option to create a new file that reflects your edits. Since your edits are saved automatically as you go along, I’d recommend never overwriting the original photo, unless you don’t care if you accidentally mess something up.

As you can see, the options in the native photo editor are extremely limited: You can rename the photo, crop it, adjust the brightness, rotate it left or right, or apply automatic fixes.

Other than that, there’s not much you can do – but think of native editing solutions in Windows, for example. Microsoft Paint may have a few more features than this, but it’s also extremely limiting; oftentimes, you need additional photo editing software to do what you really want to do.

In any case, for an extremely basic and light weight photo editing solution in Chrome OS, the native editor certainly gets the job done, and it integrates quite nicely into the Google Drive cloud, as well. It’s a great thing to have if you want to touch up a few vacation pics on the plane ride home, for example. There are, however, much more powerful photo editing solutions, so keep your eyes open for the next post in this series.

Advantages: Extremely easy to use for someone of any skill level, integrates seamlessly with Google Drive and local storage, works offline.

Disadvantages: Lacks many basic features, most will probably find it lacking.