Having been added to Chromebooks running the Canary channel quite a while back now, the Shortcut Customization application has remained a tabled project. The Chrome OS development team has either been planning out its execution of the experiment, or has placed it on the back burner until now. I just received an update that finally adds some real functionality to the app. To be fair, it’s still early in its development, so it’s not like it’s late or anything, but as a Canary user, it’s been sitting for a bit with no updates, so this is exciting!
Instead of showing just ‘Chrome OS’ and ‘Browser’ shortcut categories, the app recently added ‘Android’ and ‘Accessibility’ tabs on the left-hand sidebar as well, and now, the former two now house content. Chrome OS has shortcut keys for Window Management (snapping left and right), and Virtual Desks (creating and removing desks) while ‘Browser’ has just one – ‘New Tab’.
Interestingly, the ‘New Tab’ shortcut has a lock icon next to it, indicating that it can’t be changed. It’s not suprising though – ‘Ctrl + t’ has been around forever and is practically baked into the DNA of the browser. However, what is surprising is that it’s featured here at all. Let me explain.
I always thought that the shortcut customization app would only house changeable keybinds, but since unchangeable ones are also listed, it leads me to believe that the standard Shortcuts app may one day be replaced by this new one. If it is, you’ll not only be able to view all your Chromebook’s shortcuts from one location, but you’ll also be able to modify them there too. This would create a more unified experience, and makes perfect sense to me as the way forward. I think Google is just building it out separately before they merge the two – smart.
Once clicked, the available shortcuts display a dialog box that shows the initial keybind and a box where you can press your own custom key combination to set it in place of or in addition to what it previously was. You’ll notice that the image above isn’t a screenshot – it’s a picture I had to snap with my phone. It was impossible to grab the image with the inbuilt Chrome OS keyboard shortcut for screenshots becuase it was blocked off in favor of the app looking for my decision on what the new keybind for ‘Snap Window Left’ would be.
The dialog box asks you to press 1-4 modifiers in addition to one other key on your keyboard. For example, you can press and hold ctrl, alt, shift, and or search + left arrow’ in order to snap the window left instead of using ‘alt + [‘, but using all four feels unecessarily complicated, doesn’t it? Instead, I suggest keeping your keybinds simple and memorable – especially if you plan to have a lot of them once the application reaches its full potential.
Choose only one or two key modifiers in addition to a keyboard key like an arrow, letter or number. Just do what makes sense the most to you and that doesn’t interfere with other vital shortcuts. Are you going to customize your own shortcuts or are you sticking to what you’ve already come to know as the core experience out of the box for your Chromebook?