15 ChromeOS tips and tricks for your new Chromebook

Chromebooks make wonderful computers for many people due to their relatively low price tags and ease of use. Our favorite Chromebooks add other great features to the Chromebook experience, such as a touchscreen, included stylus, or a fingerprint sensor. ChromeOS, the operating system on Chromebooks, has many fun and useful features that make for a great user experience. Here are our favorite ChromeOS features that every Chromebook user should know.


1. Gesture with your touchpad

There are several ways to move around a Chromebooks, whether you use the touchpad, keyboard, or touchscreen if you have one. ChromeOS makes your touchpad more useful than just using a mouse by including gestures to make moving around your device easier.

  • Tap the touchpad with two fingers simultaneously to right-click.

  • Put two fingers on the touchpad and move them up or down to scroll.

  • Put two fingers on the touchpad and move them left or right to go forward and back in Chrome.

  • Swipe up with three fingers to see all your open windows. Swipe down with three fingers to go back to your last open window.

  • Open a link by tapping it with three fingers.

  • Close a Chrome tab by tapping it with three fingers.

  • Put three fingers on the touchpad and move left and right to move through your Chrome tabs.

  • Switch between your desks by swiping left or right with four fingers.

2. Control your Chromebook with your keyboard

In addition to the gestures available using your touchpad, you can do a ton with keyboard shortcuts. You can use your keyboard to do anything from refreshing the page to opening a new tab. To see the list of available keyboard shortcuts, simultaneously press Ctrl + alt + ?. The most used ones are:

  • Ctrl
    :Opens a new tab.

  • Ctrl
    : Closes the current tab.

  • Ctrl
    : Opens the last tab you closed.

  • Ctrl
    : Moves through your tabs.

  • alt
    : Moves through your windows.

  • Search
    : Locks your computer.


3. Turn on the caps lock without a dedicated key

Most people are used to using a Windows or Mac computer, which have dedicated caps lock keys. Chromebook keyboards are a bit different and do not have a dedicated caps lock key. Still, there is a way to turn on caps lock with the keyboard. Press alt + Search at the same time, and caps lock is on. Press that key combination again to turn it off.

Chromebook search launcher everything button

4. Take your screen for a spin

ChromeOS aims to be a productive and fun operating system, so Google included some amusing features that don’t serve a purpose. The best of these is the ability to do a barrel roll. To do this, press Ctrl + Shift + alt + rotate and watch your screen spin.

A Chrome window on AndroidPolice.com doing a barrel roll

5. Quickly open pinned apps and websites

Much like the taskbar on Windows or the Dock on Macs, Chromebooks have a space at the bottom of the screen where you can save apps and websites you access often. This is called the Shelf in ChromeOS, and there are a couple of ways to access these items. You can tap them with the mouse to open them or use the keyboard to access the first 10 items on your shelf. To do this, press alt and the number on the keyboard corresponding to the item you want to open. For example, to open the fifth item on your shelf, tap alt + 5.

An app selected in the launcher with the Pin to shelf option highlighted.

6. Reposition your shelf

Speaking of the shelf, if you don’t like having it at the bottom of the screen, ChromeOS allows you to move it. To do so, right-click on your home screen, mouse over the shelf positionand select either Left, Bottomor Right.

The change shelf position options on a Chromebook

7. Take advantage of desks

Chromebooks include a great feature called desks, which allows you to have different desktops for different tasks you are trying to accomplish. For example, if you are working but want to play a game, you can create a desk with your work items and create a separate desk to play your game. Then, you won’t have to deal with all those windows.

virtual desks

To access your desks, swipe up on your touchpad with three fingers. At the top of your screen, you’ll see your desks and can add a new desk by tapping New desk. If you want to save your currently open applications as a desk for access later, tap the Save desk for later button near the upper-left corner.

8. Get notifications from your phone on your Chromebook

Chromebooks pair well with Android phones since there are integrations between the two devices through a Chromebook feature called Phone Hub. One of the most useful features is the ability to access your phone notifications on your Chromebook. Connect your phone to your Chromebook, enable the notification feature, and you’re ready to go.

The Chromebook notification center with an update notification.

Once this feature is enabled, any time you get a notification on your phone, it pops up in your notifications on your Chromebook. When you see the notification pop up, tap an arrow to expand it and dismiss it, which also dismisses it on your phone. If it’s a message, you can reply to it from your Chromebook.

This is an incredibly useful feature because you can use your Android phone while you’re on your Chromebook without having your Android phone next to you.

9. Get perks with your Chromebook

Chromebooks come with a simple and easy interface. They also come with perks. To access these benefits, press Ctrl + Shift + ?. You can also search for or tap the explore app. Once you’ve opened the Explore app, select Perks on the left to see a list of offers available. These perks include free or discounted apps and services that change every so often, so check every couple of weeks for new offers.

The Perks tab in the Explore app on a Chromebook

10. Check your Chromebook performance

Chromebooks may be simpler and easier to use than Windows or Mac devices, but that doesn’t mean they don’t run into problems. That’s why Google has included the Diagnostics app to help you solve issues with your Chromebook. The Diagnostics app shows information about the performance of your hardware and network. You can run tests on the internal components of your device, export the results, and send those results to a support agent to help solve your issues.


11. Let others use your Chromebook without logging in

Sometimes you may need to share your Chromebook with a friend or family member, and you don’t want them to mess with anything on your account. Chromebooks include a guest mode for these situations. Guest mode allows anyone to use your device without signing in to a Google account. Anything they do on the device is not tied to a specific account, and everything is erased after they log out.

Lenovo Chromebook sitting on a stool

To get to guest mode, log out of your account and return to the main login screen. Once there, tap the Browse as guest button in the lower-left corner to launch guest mode.

12.Easily access quick settings

Chromebooks have a bunch of settings in the Settings app, but you don’t need to access all of them all the time. Google thought of this and included the most used settings in the quick settings menu on the Shelf. To access them, go to the Shelf and tap the time to see the list of quick settings.


These settings include the brightness and volumes of your device, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings, and a Do Not Disturb mode toggle. If these settings aren’t enough, click the gear in the upper-right corner of quick settings to launch the Settings app.

13. Snap a screenshot with ease

With people working or learning remotely at least part of the time, taking screenshots is more important than ever. Chromebooks make taking screenshots easy with a multitude of tools that capture exactly what you need. To activate the screenshot tool, click screenshot in the quick settings menu or press Ctrl + Shift + Overview.

Chrome OS Screen Capture tool for fullscreen screenshot

Once you’ve opened the tool, you have a few options. You can take a screenshot of the whole screen, a part of the screen, or a specific window. You can also record a video of your screen and choose where to save your screen capture.

14.Google Assistant included

A perk of having a device made by Google is that Google Assistant comes as a part of the operating system. To activate the Assistant, press Search + A to open the assistant screen. You can type your query or command or tap the microphone icon in the upper-right corner to speak to the Assistant. The Assistant can do everything it can do on your phone or a smart speaker, such as answering a question, modifying a smart device, or setting a timer.

The Google Assistant on a Chromebook

15. Start from scratch with a Powerwash

If your device gets to a point where it’s slow or constantly runs into issues, it might be time to reset it. Resetting a Chromebook is called giving it a Powerwash, which is simple. go to the Settings app, tap Advanced on the left, and select Reset settings. Once you’re there, tap the reset button and follow the instructions to reset your device. Make sure you’ve backed up any files you need because they will be deleted during this process.


A Chromebook is all you need

Chromebooks are affordable and useful devices loaded with features. Make sure you always have the latest and greatest security and user-facing features by checking for updates to your Chromebook.

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