While not as burned into my mind as the ALT + Backspace for delete shortcut is, the ALT + Click as a substitute for a right-click shortcut is something that has been around for what feels like forever. As a matter of fact, for new users to Chromebooks, I frequently suggest they try it as a substitute for the 2-finger click on the trackpad. While I’m very used to this trackpad-first way of executing what we all still refer to as a right-click, using a trackpad the way Chrome OS wants is already a learning curve for some, so a quick shortcut can help minimize the time it takes to get comfortable with navigation.
Let’s face it, some people aren’t great with dexterity and consistently performing 2 or 3-finger clicks just won’t work well for them. While there is a dedicated button for this action on a standard mouse, the Chrome OS trackpad is set up like a Macbook with a single click that only changes its function based on the number of digits on the surface when that click is engaged. I love the clean simplicity of it all, but not everyone does. Little keyboard tricks like ALT + Click for a right-click function helps in those situations.
We spotted a flag in Chrome OS that looks to be changing this shortcut, however, and when it is enabled, it moves the shortcut to SEARCH + Click instead. If you, like me, have only used this shortcut on occasion, you may not find this change to abrupt. However, for the folks out there using the old shortcut on a regular basis, it is time to start re-learning that shortcut. Oddly enough, the other big shortcut that was recently signaled for a change was the ALT + Backspace combo that was moved to SEARCH + Backspace years ago and will permanently change later this year.
For whatever reason, it seems the ALT key is getting freed up slowly but surely for something else. For what, we aren’t exactly sure, but the flag for this new change seems to spell it out at least a bit:
Use Search+Click for right click
When enabled search+click will be remapped to right click, allowing webpages and apps to consume alt+click. When disabled the legacy behavior of remapping alt+click to right click will remain unchanged. – Chrome OS
We’re currently not exactly sure how webpages and apps will want to ‘consume alt+click’ at this time, but we’re leaning towards Chrome making use of the ALT key in ways that translate across platforms. So, for instance, when you use ALT+Click on a Mac, Windows laptop, or Chromebook, you’ll get the exact same result in each. It is unclear if there will be new features or shortcuts tied to ALT+Click moving forward, but we’ll be keeping an eye out for it. According to this file in the Chromium Repositories, the expiration for the old way of right-click via the current shortcut is set for Chrome OS 85, so there’s definitely some time to adjust.