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Scott Nason - Director of Technology

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Chromebook Tips & Tricks

Chrome Device Tips and Keyboard Shortcuts
Rich Peterson, Computer Specialist, MSAD 6

At MSAD 6 we have been deploying Chrome devices (Chromebooks, Chromeboxes, Chromebases and Chromebits.) These devices are being used in labs for testing, and in some other areas including: Library catalog stations, Custodian workstations, digital signage and more. As more of these devices are being deployed to staff and students, there are some cool and unique tips and keyboard shortcuts that users can take advantage of. Before getting started, keep in mind that some of these tricks may be different according to the Chrome version, channel or OS you are currently using, as well as for the settings you have made on your device (flags enabled or disabled, form factor and so on).

1. You can use the Chrome App Launcher as a designated Calculator.

Not all of us are good with numbers, and this is why we find it very useful to be able to double-check our sums with a calculator. And Chrome makes it easier for us, as it can diffuse the hassle of starting an app, looking for a website or getting your phone out of your pocket. Just use the Chrome App Launcher as a calculator instead. You can use this app just as you would use Google’s search engine and calculate simple sums or semi-advanced functions such as tan, cos, sine and brackets.

Screenshot 2016-04-13 at 10.56.17 AM.png

2. Need a Unit Convertor? Go to the Chrome App Launcher again.
Yes, you read this right. Chrome App Launcher can perform easy conversions as well. Here’s how:

Type your conversion like this: “{num} {original unit} in {needed unit}”, and the result will appear instead the formula.

Screenshot 2016-04-13 at 10.57.55 AM.png

Chrome App Launcher can perform conversions such as meters, cm, mm, inches, miles to km, milliliters to tablespoon, grams to kilograms and the list continues.

3. Launch Apps by voice using Chrome App Launcher

With its built-in voice search features, Chrome Launcher can now be set to always listening mode and you can also launch apps installed on your device, not just initiate searches. In order to launch an app you would have to say ‘Ok Google – Facebook” and the Facebook app will be launched. Apps have to be installed in order to be launched through this method.
Actually, you don‘t even have to say the entire name of the app, you just have to say the first 3 or 4 letters to distinguish it from others and the Launcher will open the app that fits the name.

4. How to Quickly Close Tabs and how to easily Open Links in Background

All you need to speed up these processes are either a Chromebook with a touchpad, either a mouse with a clickable middle button.
So, if until now you were using the command: Right-Click and Open link in tab, you can stop; there’s an easier way to do it: just click on the link with a three-finger tap on the trackpad or a click on the mouse‘s middle button.

The same principle applies when you want to close tabs. Go with the mouse on the tab you want to close and click with your mouse‘s third button or tap with three fingers on the trackpad… and it’s gone!

5. How to use Favicon Bookmarks Bar
If you were wondering how to get that super-minimal, colorful favicon bookmarks bar, you should know that we’re not using any extension to get that; just a neat hack, that appeared way before Chrome did.

And it doesn‘t just look good, you know. It’s also useful, because by reducing the links from long texts to simple icons, you can have more of your favorite sites listed in a handy location.
Here’s what you have to do to make the Chrome Bookmarks Bar show only the websites‘ icons: right click on a bookmark bar link, then select ‘edit‘ and delete the text in the name box that appears and click ‘save‘. Yes, it‘s that easy and you don’t need to install any extensions or add-ons. In order to minimize all of your links, repeat the process for every one of them.

6. Using Omnibar; How to Search Gmail
You might have realized by now that Chrome‘s Omnibar is very powerful and its features can be extended. For example, if you‘d add a custom search engine on a website, you would be able to find out everything you need from the URL link, without actually going on the website.

This is one of the most useful search engines used for setting up Gmail. Cut a step or two in the process by using a simple sentence and a tap on the Tab key to quickly find anything you need.

In order to set up Gmail as a custom search engine on Chrome, right-click on the Chrome Omni-bar and select ‘Edit Search Engines’; after this, scroll down to the bottom of the window that pops and write in the following data:   

Name: Gmail   Keyword: gms   URL: https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#search/%s.

The keyword used here is just an example, you can use any simple word you like. When you have finished writing the instructions, select ‘Done‘. After that, you would be able to use it by simply going to the address bar, insert the keyword and start navigating! You can also access the option via voice search (speak the keyword when Chrome App Launcher is open.

7. How to Dock Windows Like a Pro
For Chrome OS and for Windows 8 Mode, you can also put app windows to the “dock” area by double-tapping the “[” or “]” key, according to the requirements: alt+ [ [ to dock window/app left or alt + ] ] to dock window/app right.

8. Add and Go
You no longer have to type the full address in the Omnibar, because you can add ‘www‘ and ‘.com after typing the keyword of the website address ( for instance, Amazon). All you have to do is press Ctrl+ Enter to do so.

9. How to fast ‘Delete’ a file
As you know, there are no Delete keys on Chrome keyboards. So, in order to fast delete a file or folder, just hit Alt + Backspace after you have selected it with your mouse.

This is a hack that will save you a lot of time and files. You know how much of a hassle pasting a formatted text can be, not only when pasting it in Word files, but also when pasting from Word files to other types of documents; there are different sizes, fonts, images or icons to get rid of and so on. So, just hit Ctrl + Shift + V instead of the traditional Ctrl + V to get rid of pre-formatted values.

10. How to Skip or Select Words in a Document
You know those moments when you just keep pressing the back arrow key through a paragraph letter by letter to make a modification; how about speeding that task up? All you have to do is to use the next modifier to jump forward or backward by word not by letter: Ctrl + left/right arrow.

If you want to highlight or select a word all you have to do is to hit this combo: Ctrl + Shift + left/right arrow.

11. How to open Chrome OS Notification Center using the Keyboard
If you suddenly realize that you want to check if there are any pending updates in the OS Notification Center, hit: Alt + Shift + N.

12. How to Hard Reboot
Although you might never have to use this hack, we believe it’s better for you to know it as it can come quite handy in a critical situation such as frozen screens or boot loops. Keep in mind that when using this procedure, you will be losing any unsaved data or files and that this is neither a factory reset nor a power wash. So, if stuck in one of the above-mentioned situations hold Refresh + Power at the same time.

13. How to Access More Google Drive Options
As you probably know already, you can find an extended set of Drive features in the File Manager. You can choose which data connection is used for syncing and which Google Docs files will show up by pressing the Alt key and then clicking on the cog icon from the File Manager.

Chrome OS keyboard Shortcuts
A list of keyboard shortcuts can be found here on the Google site.