AH Tech Talk: Twelve Chromebook Keyboard Shortcuts You Should Be Using

Google introduced the Chromebook at the 2011 I/O conference and the first models were released to the public that summer. Many people were skeptical about the utility and usefulness of a computer based on a web browser: the key message was "how useful would it be when there was no Internet connection?" However, after a slow start the Chromebook started to gain traction for both consumers and the education market. And it is true that the Chromebook is less functional when not connected with the Internet. Although, this does result in the system being more secure, robust and almost completely maintenance free due to the Chromebook nature of almost everything running from the browser. Moving on from the online/offline debate the simplicity, performance and low price of the Chromebook far outweighs the disadvantages when looking for a computer to do lightweight work on.

To help further add to the efficiency of Chromebooks, there are a few keyboard shortcuts that can make life with a Chromebook quicker. If you do not know about these shortcuts, then you should. So here is is a brief rundown of what you can do. For those people picking up and using the Chromebook after time with a Windows or Apple computer you may be surprised that some of their usual keyboard shortcuts work on the Chromebook too.

First up, is how to use caps lock. By default the Chromebook substitutes the Caps Lock key with a search button. Those new to ChromeOS will instantly notice this, but there is a way around it. To toggle the Caps Lock, use the ALT and search key. When Caps lock is triggered, you'll see a notification icon appearing at the bottom right of the screen. Next up also concerns the missing keys and if you work with documents, you've likely missed the page up and page down keys already? There are keyboard shortcuts for these commands: use the ALT key and the up and down cursor keys. Point to note, this makes it quicker to move around webpages too.

Have you loaded up the Chromebook application shelf with applications - that's the row of icons along the bottom left of the Chromebook (assuming you've not moved the shelf)? This is a common occurrence and if so, it is worth noting that you can use eight keyboard shortcuts to launch these applications. To do, this, use the ALT key and the number. For instance, you could have 'ALT and 1' for Gmail, 'ALT and 2' for Calendar, 'ALT and 3' for the browser window, 'ALT and 4' for Drive and so on. On a similar note, to switch between your open tabs, you can use the CTRL (control) key and the numbers 1 through 8. It is also worth knowing that Chrome OS can dock windows on either side of the screen. This is a great function for keeping two applications showing on the screen at the same time. To do so, use the ALT and '[' or ']' to cycle through left and right docking modes.

There are a number of system commands that can prove to be useful too. For instance, the ability to open the task manager by holding the Shift key and tapping Escape. To lock your session, you can use Control, Shift and L. To log out, Control, Shift and Q. If you find yourself using the Chrome menu a lot, ALT and the E key brings this up and ALT, SHIFT and M brings up the file manager so you can access your offline files. To take a screenshot of your Chromebook display, hold down the CTRL key and tap the screen switch button. If you need to close your current tab, use the CTRL and W key. Many of these commands are similar to the same command on a Windows machine. Moving on, another trick concerns mirroring the monitor. To do this, use the Control and Full Screen button; this is a great trick if you're using your Chromebook paired up to a HDMI screen or monitor. Lastly and possibly the best trick of all is to hit 'Control', 'ALT' and the '/' key. This will bring up the interactive keyboard shortcut guide, which shows you all of the commands that Google's engineers have built into the Chrome OS. Go ahead and experiment - then let us know your own favorite keyboard shortcuts in the comments below.

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About the Author
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David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.
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