Some keyboard shortcuts are universal – Crtl + C for copy, Ctrl + V for paste – but just as often shortcuts change between systems, websites, and programs. The best Chromebooks have pretty standard shortcuts — and a handy shortcut Ctrl+Alt+/ to show you the most basic ones – but looking at the full list of shortcuts will make your eyes see faster than the old 400-page novel you must have read over summer vacation.
Well, after years of Chromebook use and abuse, I’ve found shortcuts that every college student should know, so they can get what they need to do faster and better. Start with the 10 essential Chromebook keyboard shortcuts you need to know, then run through the masterclass below. After all, if there’s anything I learned in school, it’s to work smarter, not harder.
General Chromebook keyboard shortcuts
It’s good to know about these system-wide shortcuts because they can be used no matter what website or web application you’re on. They can help you present things more productively on your screen, find what you’re looking for faster, or quickly hide a game window before the teacher’s help comes through.
- Tab shortcuts: CTRL+T open a new tab, Ctrl+Shift+T reopens the last closed tab, and CTRL+W closes the currently selected tab.
- Options menu: Alt+E opens the options menu, the three-dot menu in Google Chrome and Google Files. This shortcut does not work in Android apps.
- Selecting and moving the cursor: Shift + arrow keys selects the text in the direction you move the cursor, and Ctrl + arrow keys moves the cursor one word to the left or to the right or to the beginning of the line above or below. Using Shift + Ctrl + arrow keys allows you to quickly select larger portions of text.
- Screenshot: Ctrl + Overview (the button that looks like a stack of windows) takes a screenshot of your Chromebook’s current full screen. Whether you need it to capture your score on a web quiz, how an assignment module is misbehaving, or something funny someone said in a group chat, it’s an essential shortcut to to know.
- Screen magnification: CTRL + + zooms in and maximizes the current Chrome tab, while CTRL + – zooms out and minimizes the current Chrome tab. If you want to quickly return to the default 100% zoom, you can do so with CTRL+0.
- Hide your game/tab: Alt+- will minimize the current window. If you have multiple windows open, tap Alt+- will minimize the next open window again. If you only have one window open on your Chromebook, tap Alt+- will restore this minimized window again once your teacher, little sibling or parent has left and the way is clear.
- Split projection windows: Alt + [ pins the current window to the left side of the screen and Alt + ] Pins the current window to the right side of the screen, making it much easier to reference your notes while you write your history report or write helpful tech articles. Alt+= will again render a full-width window without making it full-screen, which hides the address bar, tabs, and toolbars.
Google Drive/Docs Shortcuts
Google Drive and Google Docs have a few quite extensive keyboard shortcuts available for users on their websites. While not all of them are exclusive to the Chromebook, they are definitely shortcuts worth knowing.
Google Drive Shortcuts
- Show all keyboard shortcuts with: Ctrl + /
- Document creation: Shift + T create a new document, Shift + S creates a new sheet, and Shift + F creates a new folder. If you’re going to be using Google Drive for all your notes, homework, and random daydreaming stories throughout the year, create folders early and often to keep things organized.
- Rename items: Touch NOT brings up the window to rename the currently selected item. Naming screenshots and other randomly named images and uploaded attachments will help keep things better organized and easy to find in your Google Drive.
- Scroll up, down, left and right with the jkhl keys if you don’t want your fingers to leave the keyboard.
Google Docs Shortcuts
- Remove formatting: Ctrl+ will clear any odd formatting from a website or application. On that note, remember that Ctrl+Shift+V is the shortcut for pasting text without formatting.
- Format lists: Ctrl+Shift+7 will switch to a numbered list or format highlighted text in a numbered list. Ctrl+Shift+8 will do the same with a bulleted list.
- Number of words : Ctrl+Shift+C will display the word count screen, showing the number of pages, words and characters in a highlighted section and the complete document, so you know how close you are to that absolutely insane 10,000 word count words your English teacher assigned to you.
- Voice input: Ctrl+Shift+S will begin voice typing, allowing you to dictate text to your document without having to type everything.
- Go up or down: Ctrl + Search + Left Arrow will take you to the start of your document while Ctrl + Search + right arrow will go all the way.
- Insert links: CTRL+K will open the insert link window in Google Docs, allowing you to create a new hyperlink for new text or add a hyperlink to text you currently have highlighted.
Files app shortcuts
The Files app on a Chromebook is a bit of a hidden gem. It seamlessly connects to Google Drive and can also be used with Chrome Web Store add-ons to remotely access other cloud storage systems such as Dropbox and OneDrive.
I find that if I need to do a lot of Google Drive cleanup like creating folders, renaming files, and moving a lot of files from one folder to subfolders, the Files app will be much faster than the Google Drive website, or even the Windows Explorer app on a computer I synced Google Drive with.
- Folder creation: CTRL+E creates a new folder.
- Renaming items: Ctrl+Enter to rename the selected item. I find it goes faster in Files than on the Google Drive site because you don’t have to deal with popups or window reloading after renaming a file. Ctrl+Enterenter the new name, press Walk inthen arrow key to next item and repeat.
- Delete items: Alt + Backspace to remove an item from a folder. Items deleted from a Google Drive folder in the Files app still go to the Google Drive Trash folder, so you can recover them within a few days if you find you deleted something by accident.
Remap Chromebook keys
Chromebook keyboards differ from traditional keyboards in several ways. Perhaps the biggest change for many – especially younger users whose hands are too small to reach every letter while holding down the Shift key with one hand – is that the “Launcher” key is a search or app launch key instead of Caps Lock.
Luckily, Google knows this is a key that a lot of people use, so Google is allowing Chromebook users to remap the Launcher key, as well as the other function-related keys – Alt, Ctrl, Escape, and Backspace. – so they can be what we use rather than the default function. Here’s how to get your caps lock back.
1. Press the Time in the lower right corner of the screen to open the Chromebook menu.
2. Press the Settings Gear to open Settings.
3. Scroll down and under Device tap Keyboard.
4. Press the Scrolling menu to the right of the key you want to change.
5. Press Caps Lock.
You can remap the other function keys if you want, but Caps Lock is the only major discrepancy that most users will want to fix.
Finally, remember that you can see all Chromebook keyboard shortcuts at any time. Just press the Ctrl+Alt+/ keys to see a list of what you can do with the keys right on your screen.