The Chromebook team has gone out of its way to make their devices extremely accessible over the years, and it has plenty in the way of new features coming soon. One such feature called Switch Access is already widely available. It allows you to control your entire Chromebook with just three keyboard keys! Today, we’re going to show you how to do just that so you can navigate your Chromebook like a boss with one hand.
To enable Switch Access, simply visit the Settings app > Advanced > Accessibility > Manage accessibility features. Then, scroll down to the ‘Keyboard and text input’ category, and toggle on ‘Switch Access’. Once you do, you’ll want to click ‘Switch Access options’ which appears immediately below and start choosing which keys do what.
You’ll actually see a bunch of blue highlights around your screen – don’t freak out as this is normal! Switch Access lets you navigate forward and backward and select highlighted items to execute commands system-wide. Okay, so in the Switch Access options, just dedicate a keypress to ‘Select’, ‘Next’, and ‘Previous’. Press that same key again in order to confirm it. If you check out the video below, I’ve opted to use ‘Z’ for previous, ‘X’ for select, and ‘C’ for next. This feels relatively natural to me, but you can use any key combination that you wish.
Okay – let’s take this for a test run, shall we? Simply close your settings app, and begin utilizing your new key presses. Use your ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ buttons to jump between on-screen elements and your ‘Select’ button to make things happen. Easy, right? Well, sort of – properly navigating the operating system this way takes a little getting used to, and though you may mess up a few times, it’s actually quite cool when you master it.
As you can see in the video below, selecting things causes a menu to appear which shows contextual options for that item. For example, I’ve selected the volume or brightness below, and the menu lets me increment or decrement appropriately, or visit the settings for that feature. Overall, it feels fairly well thought out and should be useful for those looking to enhance their Chromebook experience.
I did encounter some issues with selecting folders and entering into them in the Files app, but I probably just need a bit more practice with the accessibility tools. To disable Switch Access, just visit your Chromebook’s shelf where the quick settings are located, go to the ‘Accessibility’ drop-down, locate ‘Switch Access’, and tap on it. The green checkmark next to it will disappear, and the tool will be disabled.
Have you ever utilized your Chromebook’s accessibility tools to make better use of your laptop? Let’s hear your experience in the comments section. Does Chrome OS lack a specific accessibility tool that could make or break the experience in your opinion? Sound off!