December 8, 2016

How to GAC: Pin Apps and Extensions to the Chrome Launcher

Rob Lynn
Screen shot of Chrome Launcher and an app pinned

Hi admins! Today, we’re going to show you how to pin apps and extensions to the Chrome Launcher on student Chromebooks, making it super easy for students to access the tools that they use the most.

Similar to adding an application to the Windows Start Menu or the Dock in OS X, students and users alike can add both extensions and Chrome apps to the Chrome Launcher. But to make things easier, we can use a somewhat hidden option in G Suite for Education to add apps and extensions to student Chrome Launchers for them.

Do students at your school use Google Docs everyday? What about Notable PDF or Screencastify? These can be two clicks away for any of your students. You can also specify different pinned apps & extensions for different OUs, allowing for a great deal of customization and options if your OU structure is handled by grade level or even class type.

As a quick note: if a student has already pinned apps and extensions, don’t worry! Adding pinned items as an administrator won’t remove them, and students will still be able to see them on their Chrome Shelf the next time they log in. However, student Chrome Shelves will be rearranged, and the apps that are pinned by administrators will be on the left side (although students can rearrange them manually the next time they log in).

Before you begin, you’ll want to have two things ready:

  1. A list of the apps and extensions that you want to pin to the Chrome Launcher.
  2. Also, in order for the apps and extensions to appear in the Chrome Launcher, they will need to be installed first. You can learn how to force install extensions here: How to force install apps and extensions: Part I.

  3. Administrator-level access to your school’s Google Admin console.

Ok, let’s get started!

  1. First, go to, and log in using your administrator-level credentials.
  2. Next, Click on Device Management.

GAC Device Management

  1. From the Device Management screen, click on Chrome Management.

Chrome Management

  1. Now, click on User Settings.

Chrome management
  1. From the Organizations list on the left side of the screen, select an OU that you’d like to pin Chrome extensions to. If you want to pin extensions for every OU in your school, then you can skip this step.

Auto SelectOU.jpg?t=1481118665386&width=1342&height=400&name=Auto SelectOU

  1. Scroll down to the Apps and Extensions section.

  2. Click Manage pinned apps under the Pinned Apps and Extensions heading.
pin ManagePinnedApps

  1. When the Pinned Apps and Extensions window appears, click on Chrome Web Store.

pin ChromeWebStore

  1. In the search field, type in the name of the first app or extension, and press Enter on your keyboard.

  2. When you find the add-on or extension, click on Add.

pin AddButton

  1. Continue adding apps and extensions to the list by repeating steps 9-10.

  2. Click on the Save button.

pin SaveButton

  1. In the lower right corner of the screen,
  2. click Save again.

And that’s it! The next time the students in your selected OU log into their Chromebooks, they will see the extensions that you pinned on the Quick Launch bar at the bottom of their screens.

Before we let you go, though — what are your favorite apps and extensions for students? What apps will you be pinning, and for what grade levels?