Google has been prepping to change the function of the ‘alt’ key on the Chromebook platform for years. And now it’s apparently finally getting around to making that change. That’s based on recent reports, highlighting changes made to the underlying code in the Chromium Gerrit.
How will this change to the Chromebook ‘alt’ key function impact end-users?
In short, the company is remapping some ‘alt’ key functionality to the “Everything Button.” That’s the magnifying glass icon-embued Search key. And that includes remaps for “Home, End, PageUp, PageDown, Insert,” and “Delete” according to the most recent commits to the Chromium Gerrit. So, for example, pressing ‘alt’ and then the backspace key will no longer perform the delete function. Instead, that will require a press of the “Everything Button” and the backspace key.
Similarly, the ‘alt + touchpad’ function will no longer be usable for instituting a right-click action. Or a number of other shortcuts, although some will still work.
Users who try to use the then-deprecated shortcuts will be informed that the shortcuts no longer work. At least for some of the shortcuts, Chrome OS will inform users that they need to use the alternate keyboard shortcuts. And that will likely continue through at least one more update, giving users time to adapt to the change.
When is this change incoming?
Now, the change in shortcut functionality using the ‘alt’ key on a Chromebook isn’t just around the corner. As noted above, it’s been known to be in the works since 2019 at least. And in the Chromium Gerrit, it is impacting Chrome OS 93.
That’s not due for a full release on the Stable Channel until September 7. And that’s just when the rollout will start, with no guarantee it will be rolled out widely. So there’s plenty of time before the change arrives.