Just a few months ago, Google set into motion its plans to make the Search button on Chromebooks – now named the ‘Everything Button‘ – do, well, everything as its name implies. Launcher plus backspace became forward delete, launcher plus clicking the touchpad became right-click, and so on. Essentially, this new favorite caps lock replacement is looking to make the Alt key nearly jobless.
A new Chromium commit found by Android Police shows that Google isn’t done yet. The existing Alt key functionality for Home, End, PageUp, PageDown, Insert, and of course Delete will soon be exchanged for the Everything button when paired with each shortcut’s original combination key. For now, these changes are locked behind a flag on Chrome OS Canary called chrome://flags/#improved-keyboard-shortcuts, but whatever form this takes by the time it reaches the Stable channel will be what users will be forced to contend with.
Event Rewriter: Deprecate old Alt based rewritesBug: 1174326
– All changes behind flag “improved-keyboard-shortcuts”
– Deprecate all Alt based 6-pack rewrites
– Home, End, PageUp, PageDown, Insert, Delete
– Existing search variants continue to exist – Deprecate Search+<Digit> -> F<digit> rewrites
– Existing Search+TopRow -> F-Key mapping remains
– Deprecate Alt+Touchpad_Click -> Right-Click
– Search+Touchpad_Click replaces it – Add new tests to cover the new rewrites and deprecations
– Follow up CL will add deprecation notifications
There is also some language around the deprecation of launcher plus numerical digits in exchange for F plus digits, but it’s not yet clear what that means as launcher plus F-Key mappings will remain unchanged for the time being. A notification I received on my shelf while writing this states that the ‘launcher plus number’ is being swapped for launcher plus a key on the top row, so maybe this has something to do with eliminating the use of numpads (let’s hope not!). Other than that, your guess is as good as mine for now.
Luckily, Google is working on a shortcut customization app that recently picked up new sections for Android and Accessibility shortcuts in addition to the Browser (Virtual Desktops) and Chrome OS sections that already existed. Keep in mind that this application is still being actively developed, so it’s unclear how far the company will let users change the DNA of the keyboard. One thing is for sure though – with the elimination of the caps lock key and now the relentless pursuit of the Alt key, Google is looking to change the DNA of the keyboard themselves.