Chrome is a complex browser that often requires multiple clicks or disruption to browsing to navigate pages and tabs or access key features. Whether it’s quickly opening features such as Incognito Mode, clearing history and cache, opening new pages, or just navigating what’s already open, there’s a lot of movement required between the keyboard and the mouse or trackpad. But Chrome keyboard shortcuts can make life easier for just about any user, particularly where productivity is concerned.
Now, these shortcuts apply solely to Chrome iterations that utilize a keyboard. That also means they almost exclusively apply to desktop or Chromebook variants of the browser. But the shortcuts listed here can be used across all of those platforms, whether a Chrome OS gadget or a Linux, Windows, or Mac setup.
The shortcuts listed here are also those that will likely be used by every Chrome user to some extent, although some will certainly be used more than others. That’s as opposed to the top shortcuts and tricks that might be used for any individual platform.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most useful Chrome shortcuts to be found.
Quick launch Incognito, Tabs, History, Downloads
Getting into the deeper UI for Chrome can be a pain. Whether moving to Incognito Mode, opening a new tab or window, or opening the History or Downloads page, there are often more clicks and mouse movements required than would be ideal. But Chrome does allow for shortcuts via a keyboard that simply everything.
Sometimes it’s just a good idea to launch into Incognito Mode. That won’t necessarily stop certain entities — service provider or the boss — from seeing activity. But it does prevent cookies from saving long-term and can be helpful when it comes to letting others access their accounts.
That’s especially true for users who are already logged into Chrome. Going Incognito sets aside the troublesome steps required to sign out while simultaneously preventing history or accounts linking over to the signed-in account.
There are two ways to get into Incognito Mode in Chrome on desktop platforms depending on what operating system is in use.
On Windows machines, users need to press and hold the “Ctrl” key and the “Shift” key before pressing the “N” key. The same combination of keys works in Chrome OS on Chromebooks too, as well as Linux machines.
Mac users will need to hit the command key (⌘) and then press “Shift” and “N” instead.
In either case, that set of keys being pressed at once will immediately open up an Incognito Window.
Open a new tab or window with Chrome shortcuts
If Incognito Mode isn’t needed but a new tab or window is, there’s an easy way to accomplish that too. This method also works for opening a new tab in Incognito. That makes it easier to open up new tabs without having to reach for the mouse or trackpad and either open up the three-dot menu or click the “Plus” icon. The same can be said for opening a new window since sometimes it’s a pain to keep too many tabs in one frame.
For Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS users, the key combinations used are the same. Namely, users simply need to hold down the “Ctrl” key and then tap the “N” key on their keyboard. A new window will open up and be brought into focus. Pressing the “Ctrl” key and then the “T” key will open up a new tab.
On Mac computers, the letter remains the same but the Command key will be used, as with the above-mentioned example for going Incognito.
Go to History in a snap
As might be expected, sometimes a tab will be closed and then needed again later on. Depending on when the tab was first opened, that might be easy enough to find using the History tool in the three-dot menu. But for older tabs, a deeper look at the history of tabs is going to be needed.
Now, that isn’t necessarily going to be the best solution either. Incognito tabs obviously won’t show up in the History, for instance. But that doesn’t make it any less viable a solution for those who need to look up a page they’ve used. Unfortunately, getting there with the mouse or trackpad is going to take some time. But users also have the option of using keyboard shortcuts.
On Windows machines, as well as on Chrome OS gadgets and Linux computers, the command is the same. Users need to hold down the “Ctrl” key and then press the “H” key. That will open up a new tab with the History page already loaded up. From there, it’s just a matter of using either the arrow keys or the mouse to navigate the History UI.
For those users who are on Macs, the Command key is used instead of “Ctrl,” but the rest of the keyboard shortcut is the same.
Go to Downloads without the mouse or trackpad
As with the reasons for searching the History page, sometimes it’s difficult to locate a previously downloaded file or image. In those cases, as long as the image hasn’t been deleted entirely, there is an easy way to get back to the download. And this method also works just as a way to check — or delete — what’s been downloaded. Or at least in terms of its visibility as a download.
Keyboard shortcuts can be used here to the same effect as with the History page.
Windows, Linux, and Chromebook users only need to first press and hold the “Ctrl” key. From there, pressing the “J” key will load up the Downloads UI.
Mac computers utilize the Command key instead of “Ctrl” but the remainder of the keyboard shortcut stays the same.
Closing things or getting back what’s been closed
One of the most difficult tasks to perform in Chrome is reopening closed tabs or clearing browsing data when Incognito mode isn’t used by accident. Managing bookmarks can be similarly frustrating since Chrome has so many features. Finding any one of the associated features is, in a few words, not intuitive. And closing out tabs or minimizing windows can be a hassle with a trackpad — or even a mouse in some circumstances.
Chrome has users covered on that front though, offering plenty of shortcuts to make the processes easier without missing a beat.
Minimize the currently-active Chrome window
Minimizing the currently active window is useful when there are so many tabs open that multiple windows are needed. Or, when multiple tools are being used. Conversely, it also serves as a great way to close a window out quickly without losing the page that was opened.
That’s made even better with Chrome keyboard shortcuts since those eliminates the need to first move to the mouse or trackpad and then click the underscore icon in the window’s UI.
For Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS, the process is fairly simple. Users need to hold down the “Ctrl” key and then press “M.”
On Macs, the command stays the same but utilizes the Command key instead of the “Ctrl” button.
Closing down the currently-active tab with Chrome shortcuts
When simply minimizing the window isn’t enough, it’s also simple enough to shut down the currently-active tab completely. That’s especially useful when so many tabs are opened up that the “x” on the tab can’t be pressed to close the page. But it works just as well when users would rather not use the mouse, saving some time for the sake of productivity.
To close the tab that’s currently active, users can simply press the “Ctrl” key and keep it pressed while they tap the “W” key. As with so many other commands here, Mac users will need to press and hold the Command key instead of “Ctrl.”
Open up the most recently closed tab in Chrome
Now, it isn’t at all uncommon that a user will close a tab on accident or discover shortly after closing it that it’s still needed. Chrome doesn’t immediately dispense with recently closed tabs though. So as long as users know this shortcut for re-opening recently closed tabs, it’s still possible to get those back.
Unfortunately, this won’t work in Incognito Mode. Otherwise, it’d be far too easy for those tabs to be rediscovered, counter to the whole point of the feature. This also doesn’t work for tabs that are closed out in previous sessions. But this should work just about everywhere else. It can even be used, sometimes, to re-open all tabs after Chrome crashes.
The tabs re-open in the order that they were closed.
For Windows, Linux, and Chromebooks, users must hold down “Ctrl,” “Shift,” and press “T” to re-open closed tabs. On Mac computers, users need to utilize the Command key and “Shift” before pressing “T.”
Clear your Chrome browsing data with shortcuts
Sometimes, for whatever reason, items end up in History that users would rather not appear there. Or, pages performance drops or anomalies occur due to data saved incorrectly by Chrome.
In both cases, clearing browsing data is the proper solution but that isn’t always an easy page to find. At the very least, it takes a significant number of clicks to get to — wasting valuable time and effort. Happily, Chrome makes getting there with the keyboard fairly simple too.
For users on Windows or Linux, holding “Ctrl” and “Shift” before pressing the “Delete” key will launch that feature and its page. On Mac devices, the same can be found holding the Command key and “Shift” key before pressing delete.
On Chromebooks, however, the command is somewhat different because Chrome OS keyboards don’t have a delete key. So, instead, users will need to hold “Ctrl” and then “Shift” before pressing the “backspace” key.
Bookmark a page or get to the bookmark manager
Now, when it comes to saving and getting back to any given page, the Bookmark bar is the way to go. But that can get in the way and doesn’t always show every bookmarked page. Just as pertinently, it can be a pain to use the mouse to set a new bookmark, to begin with.
Fortunately, Chrome has keyboard shortcuts for all of that.
Beginning with how to hide or reveal the bookmark bar, that’s set on a toggle. So the same command can be used to both show the UI when it’s hidden and to disregard it when it’s getting in the way.
On Windows, Linux, and Chromebooks, pressing “Ctrl,” “Shift,” and “B” will hide or reveal the bookmarks bar.
As with all other Chrome shortcuts utilizing the “Ctrl” key, users on Mac computers simply need to use the Command key instead of “Ctrl.”
Adding an open page — or pages — to the bookmarks is straightforward from the keyboard too.
With Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS, holding “Ctrl” and then pressing “D” will bookmark the current page. Adding in the “Shift” key bookmarks all open tabs.
On Mac, holding Command and pressing “D” has the same effect and so does adding in the “Shift” key.
Finally, users on everything but Mac can press “Ctrl” and “Shift” before pressing “O” to open up the Bookmark Manager in Chrome. Mac users will need to hold down “Command” here instead of “Ctrl.”
Navigating tabs with Chrome shortcuts
Sometimes, opening multiple tabs or getting buried deep in any task makes navigating with the mouse and clicks impossible. At the very least, it can be unproductive and slow — especially where trackpads are concerned. Touchscreens have mostly eliminated the problems on that front. But that doesn’t make Chrome keyboard shortcuts any less viable. And Chrome has at least two features on that front which make things much easier.
Jump from tab to tab, backward or forward
When a lot of tabs are open, it can be difficult to navigate between them. Nowhere is that more clear than when there are so many tabs that new ones don’t appear in the tab bar. Instead, they’re tucked away off to the side, behind the Plus-shaped icon. Users could, of course, simply close tabs they don’t need. But that’s not always ideal. Thankfully, Chrome users can also use the keyboard to navigate to the next and previous tab instead.
Now, Chrome Shortcuts for navigating through open tabs are different for each platform. On Linux, for instance, users need to press “Ctrl” and then “Tab” to move from left-to-right through tabs. “Ctrl” and “PgDn” — Page Down — cycles in the opposite direction.
Windows users will need to start by pressing and holding the “Ctrl” tab. Then, pressing the “PgDn” — Page Down — key will move to the tab that’s to the right of the current tab. Pressing “PgUp” — Page Up — instead will cycle through the tabs to the left.
Mac users have a different set of keyboard shortcuts and so do Chrome OS users. For Chromebooks, users need to hold down the “Ctrl” key and then press the “tab” key. That will navigate through the tabs in the left-to-right direction. Holding “Shift” at the same time moves through the tabs in the opposite direction.
On macOS, users need to hold “Command” and the “Option” key before pressing the right arrow to go through the next tab. Getting to the “Previous” tab uses the same keystrokes but the left arrow instead of the right.
Move to search with a Chrome shortcut instead of your mouse
It’s also easy enough to jump straight to the URL Omnibox from anywhere in Chrome with the keyboard. That’s as opposed to using the mouse to click the bar, which can be a serious interruption to the workflow or just browsing in general.
Moving directly to the URL Omnibox to perform a search or navigate to a new page on Windows, Chromebooks, and Linux utilizes the same keyboard command. Namely, users simply need to hold down “Ctrl” and then tap “L” to accomplish the task. That puts the focus on the Omnibox, allowing users to just type in the search or website URL without ever having to touch the mouse or trackpad.
On Mac, again, users start by holding down the Command key before pressing the “L” key.
When Chrome stops responding properly or needs to be reset, there are shortcuts for that
The final Chrome shortcut we’ll discuss here isn’t like other shortcuts so much as it’s a way to relaunch Chrome without losing progress. It also serves, along those same lines, as a way to accomplish that without having to use the mouse. And that’s going to be useful for those who build up a lot of browser data, summarily finding themselves needing to restart often.
After first using the above-mentioned shortcut to move the focus of the page to the search or “URL Omnibox” bar, there’s a simple command that can be entered to restart the browser without ever having to move the mouse. Namely, users must type in “chrome://restart” and then hit “Enter” just as they would for a typical search or navigate to a new page.
This time, however, the browser will reboot itself, keeping tabs intact. So users can quickly fix any errors or reboot instead of simply opening each page all over again.