Back in my day, Chromebooks had a ‘Get Help’ button that appeared as a green icon with a white question mark. It allowed you to browse basically all of Google’s Support listings for Chrome OS directly from within an app and was housed in your ‘Launcher’. Nowadays, the launcher is called the ‘Everything button’, and houses what’s called the ‘Explore’ app – a modern spin on the ‘Get Help’ icon that packages much more inside such as your Chromebook Perks, What’s New, Getting Started information and more. It’s truly become a versatile piece of ‘software’, and now it looks like Google may be freeing it from its chains. Getting your Chromebook questions answered may soon be just a tap away.
A new flag has appeared at
chrome://flags which allows you to toggle showing search results from the help app in the launcher. This means that if you’re stuck or don’t understand what to do in order to operate some part of your Chromebook, you’ll just need to remember to tap the ‘Everything button’ and search your question. This is significant because it’s familiar to nearly everyone since it resembles a simple Google search – something we’re all accustomed to doing countless times per day.
Help App launcher search
Enables showing search results from the help app in the launcher. – Chrome OS
Google recently became infatuated with making the ‘Everything button‘ do literally everything. Instead of just and only being utilized for searching your installed apps and PWAs and sifting through your Google Drive storage or performing web searches, it’s also now going to be responsible for forward deleting text, and right-clicking when used in combination with other button presses. Basically, any keyboard shortcut that was previously utilizing the Alt key will now instead use ‘Everything’, and by ‘Everything’, I don’t mean literally every button on your keyboard, but just the ‘Everything button’ in combination with something else. Jeez, Google’s eventually going to run into the problem of everything having confusing nomenclature. No, I don’t just mean the button this time – see?
After toggling the flag and restarting my device in Chrome OS Canary 91, I still can’t seem to get my launcher’s search bar to produce results from the ‘help app’ (read: Explore > Help or Search). I tried typing in many common questions related to printing and so on and even generalized a search by typing in ‘How do I…’ but it produced no results. You can see below in the image that when I do the same thing in the Explore app, I’m presented with many answers from the Google Support community and official documentation.
As you can see, having such a feature baked right into the core of the operating system and not confined to an application that many users simply won’t know exists out of the box is not only incredibly useful but fantastic for the accessibility of Chromebooks – something the development team has always been very much about. I hope that more seasoned users will have the ability to toggle this feature off completely in the Settings app, just as they currently can do with Play Store search suggestions. My concern with many of these excellent features for new users is that those of us who want the operating system to become more powerful and mature will be left out in the cold, but here’s to hoping that Google finds a way to strike balance in this space.