One way to get the most out of your Chromebook is to have some sort of desktop setup. I love the portability of my Chromebook, but when I want to get some work done I head to my desk, where I have an external monitor, a laptop stand on the side of that monitor, a keyboard, and a wireless mouse. One of the key parts of this setup is the keyboard, and although there are some ChromeOS-specific keyboards out there, it’s generally much easier to get your hands on a Windows-layout keyboard.
You might be wondering if you can use a Windows keyboard with your Chromebook: spoiler alert – you can and it works great! So, in this article, I’m going to go over a few key differences between the keyboard layouts and show you how to use a Windows keyboard with your Chromebook.
In general, all ChromeOS devices are compatible with standard PC keyboards. Whether it’s a USB or Bluetooth keyboard, you can easily connect it to your Chromebook, Chromebox, or Chromebase, and it will work. This flexibility allows you to utilize any spare keyboards you have lying around or any specific style of keyboard that you prefer.
ChromeOS Keyboards vs. Windows PC Keyboards
While PC keyboards can be used with Chromebooks, there are some key differences to be aware of. First of all, ChromeOS employs a unique keyboard layout, replacing the function row with special keys and substituting the Caps Lock key with a dedicated Search (or Everything) key. This means that when using a Windows keyboard with a Chromebook, you will have to adjust your typing to accommodate for these differences – especially if you use something like the Multi-Paste feature.
With that being said, unless you want a specific keyboard or have one lying around that you want to use, you will get the most seamless experience when using a ChromeOS-specific layout keyboard with your Chromebook. We recommend the Logitech K580 Wireless Keyboard and the HP 325 Bluetooth Keyboard.
How to connect a Windows keyboard to a Chromebook
Connecting a USB PC keyboard to your Chromebook is as straightforward as plugging in a USB mouse. ChromeOS will instantly recognize the keyboard without needing any additional drivers or software. When using a standard PC keyboard, the Windows start key functions as the Chromebook’s Search key. The top row F keys correspond to Chromebook unique keys, such as F1 for back, F2 for forward, and so on, for the most part. It’s important to note that since Chromebook manufacturers have the option to customize the keys, your particular Chromebook might have a slightly different top row of keys. So, you will need to test these keys to find out how they are mapped for your device.
Pairing a Bluetooth keyboard with your Chromebook is equally simple. Just like connecting any other Bluetooth peripheral, you’ll need to put the keyboard in pairing mode, open the Bluetooth settings on your Chromebook, and select the keyboard from the list of available devices. Following the prompt to type a sequence of numbers and pressing enter will pair the device.
It’s that simple! You might need some time to get used to the differences in the Windows keyboard layout but it does work. Whether you opt for a standard PC keyboard or a ChromeOS-specific one, an external keyboard can take your productivity to a new level. With companies like Logitech offering a wide range of keyboards, you can find the right setup for you and your particular needs, even if it includes a Windows-specific layout.