[pullquote align=”right”]Confused about the difference between Chrome and Chrome OS? Chrome is a web browser that can be run from any compatible computer or device. Chrome OS is the operating system for Chromebooks and Chromebox much like iOS is the operating system for Apple. Read more about the Chrome OS[/pullquote]

I just bought my first Chromebook after about a year of thinking about it. I was worried that this simple machine couldn’t keep up with my demands – like having 15 or more tabs open in my browser while I worked all day. Now that I’ve taken the plunge and purchased an HP Chromebook 14, I thought I’d share some of my experience in switching from a full and powerful laptop to a Chrome machine.

I’ll tell you all about the great things later – like how insanely easy it is to set up, how fabulous the keyboard is, and how I wish I had switched long ago. But first I want to share with you what  my stumbling blocks were because I’ve seen that I’m not the only who had a little trouble figuring out some of the mechanics of this little powerhouse.

Chromebook Touchpad Tips – It’s A Little Different

Chromebook Touchpad not working? It probably is; you just need to know how it’s different from laptops. There are a few differences in the way a Chromebook’s touchpad works. Unlike my laptop’s touchpad, this one doesn’t have separate and obvious buttons at the bottom of it. I’ll admit that I was perplexed by the lack of the buttons on the touchpad. It took me two days of searching (Chromebook Touchpad Not Working is a popular search, but full of lots of old information) to find out it wasn’t the Chromebook, it was me. It seems this touchpad can do everything my laptop’s can, it just does it differently.

Chrome OS – How to Enable Caps Lock, use the Special Keys, and more on your Chromebook

by Chrome Help Center’s channel

It was much later that I found the video this video, Chrome OS – How to Enable Caps Lock, use the Special Keys, and More on your Chromebook. This happy fellow, one of the Chrome OS designers, walks us through many of the options and the reasons behind them. Granted, I don’t agree with their choices, but still, I would have saved a lot of time if I’d found this first. Start with the video if you’re new to the Chrome OS.

Chromebook Touchpad Shortcuts

Here’s a quick look at some of the differences between traditional touchpads and the Chromebooks (please note, yours may vary):

Single Click

For example, there is technically a single click button on the bottom left-hand side of the touchpad. Press there, and you’ll feel it depress just a millimeter or so, and that’s your click. Alternately, you can use one finger to tap the touchpad anywhere, and that registers as a click as well.

Right Click

But what about a right click? It’s such a useful shortcut and one I don’t think I could live without, so I tried every imaginable combination I thought possible. I  even pressed the right side of the touchpad, as I had the left, and it made the same satisfying “click” sound, only nothing happened on my screen. But thankfully the Chromebook engineers didn’t leave us to ponder why they didn’t include a right click button, they just made it accessible by a different combination of keystrokes or clicks.

[alert style=”grey”]To right click on a Chromebook, you have two choices – hold down the Alt key and click (as above), or use two fingers and tap the touchpad at the same time.[/alert]

Chrome Touchpad Shortcuts

  • One finger single click – places the cursor
  • One finger double click – chooses the word
  • One finger triple click – chooses the paragraph
  • Alt + 1 finger click – brings up the shortcut menu (replaces right click)
  • Alt + backspace – delete
  • To scroll, place two fingers on the touchpad and then go up or down
  • To move the cursor, place one finger on the touchpad and go up and down
  • To drag and drop, select the item with a double click, then single click on the bottom left of the keypad and while still holding it down, use another finger to sweep the item to where you want it

The Case of the Missing Buttons

Whew! Now that I had my right click to my shortcut menus back how about delete? Can you believe there is no delete key? Me either! That’s when I noticed that there wasn’t a page up or page down button either. Nor is there a caps lock button – HOW WOULD I WRITE ANGRY EMAILS WITHOUT MY CAPS LOCK? There isn’t even an end or home key to keep me orientated on the screen – I USE those keys a lot. For a split second I wondered if I’d made a mistake, but common sense slapped me in the face and I realized that surely they had accounted all of my beloved navigation keys as well, and I was right.

Chromebook Touchpad Tip and Keyboard Shortcuts

Press Ctrl + Alt + ? to see all of the shortcuts available to you – this is my Chrome OS configuration, yours may vary.

Please note that “+” means WITH the other keys and not the plus key itself. So page up would be: press the alt key and while still holding it down, press the up arrow. See why I use shorthand? 🙂 If there’s a single letter, that means to press that letter. Example: Open a new tab – press and hold the Ctrl button and then press the letter T (no caps are not required – don’t press the caps button)

Chrome OS Keyboard Shortcuts

Press Ctrl + Alt + ? to see all of the shortcuts available to you

Page up Alt + Up Arrow Search Current Page Ctrl+F
Page down Alt + Down Arrow Screen Capture Ctrl+Chrome Window Switch Button
Home Ctrl+Alt + Up Arror Mirror Screens Ctrl+ Chrome Full Screen Button
End Ctrl+Alt + Down Arrow Add Bookmark Ctrl+B
Delete Alt + Backspace Zoom Reset Ctrl+0
Bookmark Bar (on/off toggle) Ctrl+Shift+B Zoom In Ctrl+=
Open a new tab Ctrl+T Zoom Out Ctrl+-
 Open a new window Ctrl+N Downloads Ctrl+J
 Toggle through open Tabs Ctrl+Tab History Ctrl+H
Toggle through open Windows Alt+Tab  Add www. and .com to open address Ctrl+ENTER
Close current tab Ctrl+W View Source Ctrl+U
Dock Left  Alt+[ Dock Right Alt+]

 Chrome OS – Keyboard & Shortcuts

So far, I haven’t found any shortcut or keyboard functions missing that I frequently use. I do miss being able to split my screens by simply pulling one screen to the left margin and the second to the right, but with the Dock Left and Dock Right commands I can do the same thing.

Have you switched to a Chromebook? I’m wondering how you like it and if there’s anything you’ve found missing?