How to use Google Cursive, the Microsoft OneNote alternative

Google Cursive is an app for taking handwritten notes with your Chromebook. It launched with the HP Chromebook x2 11 and comes pre-installed on new touchscreen Chromebooks. It serves as an excellent alternative to OneNote for those looking for simple features and minimalist design. Here’s how you can access Cursive and use it to create, edit, and organize your notes.

How to get the Google Cursive app on a Chromebook

Google Cursive is a progressive web app and can be accessed with a browser. If it isn’t already pre-installed on your touchscreen Chromebook, you can download and install it for offline use. To get the Google Cursive app, follow these steps:

  1. On your Chromebook, open Chrome and navigate to the Google Cursive app using its web address.
  2. On the right side of the address bar, a dialog box will pop up automatically to prompt you to click Install.
  3. If you aren’t prompted to install the app with a pop-up, you can also click the Install icon (a computer with a down arrow over it) on the right side of the address bar.

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Download and install Google Cursive on your touchscreen Chromebook

How to use the Google Cursive app with your Chromebook

Once you’ve got the Google Cursive app open on your Chromebook, you’re ready to start taking notes. You can use your stylus with the app to handwrite your notes, edit them quickly, and organize them with notebooks.

Create a new note

  1. Open the Google Cursive app by selecting the Launcher (a circle icon) on the bottom left of your screen, then the up arrowthen Cursive. Alternatively, you can select the Stylus on the bottom or side of your screen, then Create notewhich will open a new note in Google Cursive.
  2. Once you’ve opened the app, you can create a new note by selecting New note on the top left of the window.
  3. Use your stylus to write notes directly on the screen.

Create a new note with Google Cursive

Edit your handwritten notes with your stylus

  1. Scribble over words to delete them.
  2. Draw a horizontal line under text and drag it downward to add more space between lines.
  3. Circle words to select them, then copy and paste them wherever you please.

Edit your notes in Google Cursive with stylus gestures

Use the toolbar to edit your notes

  1. In the toolbar at the top of the window, select the pen, highlighter, or eraser tool icons to change which tool you’re using to edit your handwritten words.
  2. After selecting either the pen or highlighter tool icons, change the color or thickness of their lines by using the icons that appear on the right side of the toolbar.
  3. Use the select tool icon, represented by a square made of broken lines, to select words to either copy or delete.
  4. Use the picture tool icon to insert images from files on your Chromebook into your note.
  5. Change the background of your note by selecting the three dots on the top right of the toolbar, then hover over Change background in the menu, and select either Blank, Line, Grid, or Dots.


Use the toolbar to edit your notes with Google Cursive

Organize your notes with notebooks

  1. On the home screen of the app, select the New notebook button on the top right of the window, then name the notebook, and select a color for it.
  2. Add a note to the notebook by selecting the three dots icon on the top right of the note, then selecting Add to notebook from the options in the drop-down menu.
  3. Filter which notes you can see from the home screen by selecting All notes, Unfiled notes, or one of your custom notebooks.

Organize your notes with folders in Google Cursive

How to read your notes without a Chromebook

The Google Cursive app is designed so that you can only create and edit notes on a Chromebook. Cursive does let you read notes on other devices, though. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Chrome on your non-Chromebook device.
  2. Navigate to the Google Cursive app in the browser.
  3. Sign in using your Google account login info.
  4. You’ll see the familiar home screen in read-only mode.
  5. Click to open and view your existing notebooks and notes.


View your notes in read-only mode on Google Cursive without a Chromebook

How to use the Google Cursive app without a Chromebook

The Google Cursive app is only intended to be used as a note-taking app on touchscreen Chromebooks. You’re not entirely out of luck if you don’t have a Chromebook, though. You can use the Google Cursive app to write and edit notes on any computer, as long as you’re comfortable fiddling around in your Chrome browser’s Developer Tools.

Here’s how to trick the Google Cursive app into thinking you’re using a Chromebook:

  1. Go to the Google Cursive app using the Chrome browser on your computer.
  2. Click the three dots icon to the right of the address bar in Chrome.
  3. In the drop-down menu which appears, go to More Toolsthen click Developer Tools.
  4. Once the Developer Tools panel appears on the right side of your Chrome window, click Network on the top of the panel.
  5. In the row under Network, access Network conditions by clicking the icon that looks like a Wi-Fi symbol with a gear.
  6. At the bottom of the panel, scroll down the Network conditions tab which appeared.
  7. In the User Agent section, uncheck the Use browser default box and then select Chrome – Chrome OS from the drop-down options below it.
  8. Refresh the page to reload the app in Chrome.


Use Google Cursive without a Chromebook by making some tweaks in Chrome’s Developer Tools

Google Cursive makes handwriting notes simple

Google Cursive is a straightforward app for creating, editing, and managing handwritten notes. Its simplicity makes it great for quickly jotting down notes. On the other hand, its simplicity may be too limiting for some people. Cursive doesn’t allow you to create or edit notes on non-Chromebook devices. It also doesn’t give you the option of typing notes when you don’t want to use your stylus. Those who need these features will be disappointed in Cursive and should look at competing apps like Microsoft OneNote.

Now that you’ve found the ideal note taking for your Chromebook, you’ll want to make sure it’s running as quickly and smoothly as possible. If you notice lag or other hiccups, Chrome OS Diagnostics can help you fix common issues.


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