Chromebook keyboard shortcuts and touchpad controls

Knowing your Chromebook keyboard shortcuts and touchpad controls are essential to get the most out of your Chromebook. Let’s take a look at all the keyboard shortcuts and touchpad controls you’ll ever use on your Chromebook computer.

The Chromebook keyboard

The Chromebook keyboard is similar to the keyboard you would find on a Windows-based PC. For example, it has a full QWERTY keyboard for you to type on. However, that is where the similarities end. You’ll notice your Chromebook keyboard does not have any function buttons, which you would see on a traditional keyboard as F1 to F12. It also has no ‘caps lock’ which is the key you would use to type in capital letters.

Chromebook keyboard shortcuts
Most keyboards are qwerty keyboards

The Chromebook keyboard has some extra keys that you do not have on a more traditional type of keyboard and these keys are located where the F1 to F12 keys would have been positioned. It’s a good idea to understand what these keys are, so you become comfortable working with your keyboard and the shortcuts available. 

The top row of keys on your Chromebook keyboard

Keyboard shortcuts on the Chromebook explained

Use the keyboard above to match the key to the number below

The Escape key

The escape key is the same as what you would find on most keyboards and is rarely used. You may use the escape key if you want to cancel away from a section your screen is focused on. Different software programs use the escape key in different ways, but it’s generally used to cancel out of a field or a screen.

Left and right navigation keys

When browsing the internet you go from one internet page to another. At times you may want to go back to a previous page you were on, or you may want to go forward to a page you were previously on if you have gone back too far. You can do this with the keyboard using these keys. You may be used to doing this by using the back and forward buttons on your internet browser. Either way works, but it’s good that you have different ways of doing it. Use whichever way suits you best.

The Refresh key

If you’ve used the internet you will most likely be used to the refresh key. This refreshes the current internet page you are on, which simply means it reloads the internet page. You may want to do this if the page brings you an error, as refreshing the page may fix it. Another reason maybe if you’re expecting an important email, which is not showing in your mailbox. If someone has just sent you an email and you need to read this urgently, instead of waiting for the browser to refresh, you can use this key to refresh the page; this would usually show you the email that has just been sent.

The full-screen key

By pressing this key on your Chromebook your internet page is displayed in full screen. This allows you to see more of the information on the website page and it does this by removing the browser options at the top and bottom of the screen. To leave full-screen mode you simply press this key again.

The Switch key

When you press this key it displays all of the windows you currently have open. You can then use your mouse to click on the window you would like to view. This makes it easy to switch between any open windows you may have open.

Screen brightness control

These two keys control the brightness of your Chromebook display.

The Mute key

This key mutes the sounds coming from your Chromebook.

Volume up and down keys

These keys control the volume, so you can adjust it up or down to suit the situation.

The Power key

If you hold down this key for a few seconds it will turn on your Chromebook, or if you already have your Chromebook turned on; holding down the key for a few seconds will shut the Chromebook down. If your Chromebook is on, you can also use this key to sign out the current user or to lock the screen. You can do this by pressing the key for about half a second and then letting go. You’ll then see a menu appear on the screen with the options to ‘power off’, ‘sign out’ or ‘lock screen’.

Keyboard shortcuts on your Chromebook

There are many keyboard shortcuts available to you to make life easier. If you use these shortcuts regularly they will become second nature.

To take a full screenshot

how to capture the chromebooks full screen

Pressing the control and switch key takes a full screenshot of whatever is being displayed on the screen at the time. This automatically saves into your downloads folder, so you can use it at a later date.

Take a partial screenshot

How to take a partial screen shot on a Chromebook

Holding down the shift and control key together with the switch key allows you to take a partial screenshot. When you press these keys your display will dim and the mouse cursor will change shape. To take a partial screenshot you just move the mouse cursor to the top left of where you want the screen capture to start; you then hold down the touchpad while dragging the mouse cursor to cover the part of the screen you want to take a screenshot of. Again, this will save the image to your downloads folder for future use.

To turn the caps lock on

how to turn on caps lock on a chromebook

The Chromebook keyboard does not come with a caps lock key. Therefore, to turn the caps lock on you press the Alt and Search key. You can then type as normal and the letters will be in capitals. To switch caps off you can press the Alt and Search key again, or you can simply press the shift key.

Lock your Chromebook

keyboard shortcut to lock your chromebook

You can quickly lock your Chromebook by pressing the Search key and the letter L. By doing this you will lock your screen and your password is required to unlock it.

Sign out of your account

keyboard shortcut to sign out of your chromebook account

If you wish to sign out of your account quickly and return to the login page you can do this by holding down the Shift and Control key and while holding these keys pressing the Q button twice.

Using your Touchpad on your Chromebook

The Chromebook like many other laptops uses a Touchpad instead of a mouse. You will use your Touchpad a lot when browsing the internet, so it’s a good idea to find out how it works and the different ways you can interact with the Touchpad.

  • Moving the mouse cursor around the screen

To move the mouse cursor around the screen you simply lightly press a finger on the Touchpad and move in the direction you want the mouse cursor to move in.

  • Pressing the left mouse button

To press the left mouse button on your Touchpad you simply press your Touchpad with one finger. This does the same thing as left-clicking on a mouse button. This also means if you need to hold down your left mouse button, you would simply hold down your finger on the Touchpad. This will take some getting used to if you have previously worked with a mouse, but once you have used the Touchpad for a few weeks it will become second nature to you.

  • Pressing the right mouse button

If you need to press the right mouse button on your Chromebook you simply press down on your Touchpad with two fingers.

  • Scrolling up and down the screen

You can scroll up and down the screen by navigating the arrow keys to the right of your browser. However, it is much easier and quicker to do it with your Touchpad. To scroll up or down the screen you simply use two fingers on your Touchpad. Gently press on the Touchpad with two fingers and move your fingers up to scroll up the page, or move your fingers down to scroll down the page.

how to use chromebook touchpad to scroll up and down the screen
  • Navigate web pages left to right

If you are browsing the web it’s most likely from time to time you will want to go back to a previous webpage or you may want to go forward to a webpage you’ve previously visited. You can do this using the front and back arrows on your browser, or the front and back keys on your keyboard. However, you can also do this using your Touchpad and it’s a much quicker way of navigating through web pages once you’ve got used to it. You can do this by pressing on the Touchpad with two fingers and swiping either left or right.

swipe left or right on your chromebook touchpad to navigate web pages
  • Display all of the windows you have open on your Chromebook

If you have a lot of windows open it can be difficult to navigate from one to the other. You can easily see what windows you have open by lightly pressing on the Touchpad with three fingers and swiping down. Doing this will then show you all the windows you have open, you can then simply choose the window you want to be active by left-clicking on it with your Touchpad.

press three fingers on chromebook touchpad to see all windows