Remember when Chromebooks first made a splash in the consumer market? it was a little over a year and a half ago. Google teamed up with the major OEMs to highlight some of the great features that Chrome OS has to offer. In the process, the Chromebook team came up with some rather pointed advertising videos that concluded with two, simple words.
“You Chromebook” The slogan never really caught on and the Chromebook marketing team has since adopted “Switch to Chromebook” as the blanket theme for consumer Chrome OS devices. Still, as odd and campy as “You Chromebook” sounded, I feel it has more merit today than ever. Chromebooks have seen mass adoption since the work/school from home movement begun a few months back and it appears that manufacturers and consumers alike are starting to take the platform more seriously. Need to hop in a Zoom meeting? You Chromebook. Need a budget-friendly device for the kids? You Chromebook. Email, Google Meet, Netflix, Android games and the list goes on and on when we’re talking about everything you can do with Chrome OS.
All that said, there are probably a lot of new Chromebook users out there still learning their way around the operating system and keyboard shortcuts are a great method by which you can quickly become a master Chromebook-er. So, I’ve gathered five handy keyboard shortcuts to help make you and your Chromebook a little more productive and get you on your way to being a Chrome OS pro. Most of these tricks may seem like redundancies as you can access them via various settings but that’s exactly why they’re “shortcuts.” Used frequently, these shortcuts can increase productivity and create a smoother workflow during your daily Chromebook tasks.
If you’re in the groove and don’t want to fiddle with clicking the new tab plus icon with your mouse or trackpad, just click Ctrl+T and a new tab will open to the right of your current tabs. To open a new incognito window, use the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+N. Additionally, more-specific tabs can be opened as well. If you want to access your history, for example, just click Ctrl+H and your browsing history will open in a new tab. To scrub through your tabs quickly, you can user a three-finger swipe left/right on your touchpad or use Ctrl+Tab or Ctrl+PgUp/PgDn if you have an external keyboard with those keys.
We’ve all done it. You have a slew of tabs open and you decide it’s time to clean up things. You start clicking that “X” and before you know it, you’ve closed a page that you didn’t intend to. You can always right-click in Chrome’s header and select “reopen closed tab” but who wants to do all of that? Instead, hit Ctrt+Shift+T. Your most recently closed tab will open back up and hitting that key combo repeatedly will open previously closed tabs. Note: If you use web-based platforms such as Android Messages or WhatsApp or anything that is technically a Chrome window, they will be included in the reopening sequence.
If you’re browsing through websites and you want to save a site your on for later reading or to keep for long-term reference, you can quickly add a new bookmark by hitting Ctrl+D. This will bring up your add bookmark notification where you can simply hit enter to save or select a specific folder where you’d like the site to be saved. To access your Bookmarks manager quickly, click Ctrl+Shift+O and you can manage your saved bookmarks and folders. To hide or show your Bookmarks bar in Chrome, just press Ctrl+Shift+B.
If you have used Windows for any length of time, you’ve probably had to open the task manager at some point to find out what’s sucking your system resources or more commonly, force close an application. While this usually isn’t needed with Chrome OS, occasionally you may need to see if something is taking a bite out of precious memory, CPU, or GPU power. Chrome OS does have a built-in task manager and you can access it by pressing Search+Escape. Search is the magnifying glass key where the caps lock would be on other keyboards. If you’re using an external keyboard, you can press Shift+Esc and open the task manager.
In the task manager, you can see all of the tasks that are running and you can customize which metrics are being displayed. I keep the memory footprint, CPU, GPU memory, network, and swapped memory listing on mine. This is especially handy when you’re using Linux applications on Chrome OS as some Linux apps do not shut down simply because you close their windows. You can quickly look and see if a Linux app is the culprit for slowed performance and CPU drains. As with Windows, you can highlight a specific task and click “end process” to shut it down.
Last but not least, we have what is likely the most underutilized keyboard shortcut on Chrome OS. Since the dawn of time (well, at least since 2016), we have fielded emails and comments asking how users can provide feedback, get support or request features for Chrome OS. Well, Chrome OS actually has a shortcut for that exact task. Alt+Shift+i will open a feedback window where you can report bugs, find support for Chromebook errors, and even request features that you’d like to see in Chrome OS. While there are multiple avenues to find Chromebook support, this is probably the most effective and direct method to do so.
Submitting feedback with this shortcut sends your requests directly to the developers where they can check it out and respond directly to you. From there, bug reports and feature requests are often filtered into the CR Bug website and users can go there to provide additional feedback to assist developers in resolving issues. Being that Chromium and Chromium OS are open-source projects, this is the best way to get eyes on an issue to get a swift resolution. If you are experiencing a “bug” in your device or you have a suggestion for an awesome new Chrome OS feature, this is the way to go about it.
So, there you go. You’re now on your way to being a master Chromebook user. Before you know it, you’ll be chatting with your friends and they’ll ask you how to do something on the computer and you’ll reply, without pause, “You Chromebook.” Kinda catchy. What’s your favorite Chrome OS shortcut? Drop a comment below and we’ll add it to our next list.