Chromebooks support many different file formats, but not all file formats. This is a big change to many users who may be coming over from other operating systems that can support many more different file formats. In order to view files on from your memory card/USB flash drive using your Chromebook, the files must be in a compatible format. Luckily, most common file formats will work on a Chromebook. If a file format does not work on a Chromebook, it may be necessary to use a web app to open the file.
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 (read-only; you won’t be able to edit these files)
Chromebooks typically include only a small amount of internal storage. Most Chromebook users who are using these file formats will want to consider a Chromebook compatible external harddrive. This will allow them to keep all their files in once place and not rely on internet cloud storage.
When you connect an external storage device to a Chromebook, you’ll need to do a little legwork to access its contents. Click the Launcher button in the lower-left corner of your Chromebook’s display and then click the Files app. If you don’t see it listed, it means you haven’t used it recently and will need to click All Apps and find the Files app listed among all of your Chromebook’s apps.
Chromebook Compatible Filesystems
You can access files on external devices connected to your Chromebook if they use the following types of filesystems:
- FAT (FAT16, FAT32, exFAT)
- HFS+ (read-only on journaled HFS+)
- ISO9660 (read-only)
- UDF (read-only)
For Chromebooks, You’re probably best off formatting your external drive as exFAT. If you format a USB drive or SD card from within Chrome OS, it will automatically format the drive as exFAT without even asking which file system you want to use.