Discover your Chromebook’s hidden features with these 5 tips

Chromebooks and other Chrome OS devices are great for cheap, easy-to-use access to the web. But as a stand-alone platform, Google’s Chrome OS hasn’t been around for all that long. If you’re a new user, there are plenty of nooks and crannies of the operating system that you’re not familiar with. Here are a few tips that will get you to “power user” status in no time.

A built-in shortcut map

We could fill up an entire post with Chrome OS’s many keyboard shortcuts, but why bother? You can see all of them for yourself at any time almost instantly. Press Ctrl + Alt + ? on your keyboard to see a pop-up map with all of the keyboard shortcuts available. You can open this tool at any time, on any screen in Chrome OS.

Screenshot 2015-08-15 at 12.27.09 AM (1)

Michael Crider/Digital Trends

To see modifier keys, just hold them down: hold down Ctrl to see all the Ctrl + [key] functions, hold down Ctrl and Shift for all the Ctrl + Shift + [key] shortcuts, et cetera. Remember that since all the apps and extensions in Chrome OS are running as a function of the Chrome browser, shortcut keys won’t change from app to app like they do on Windows or OS X. To close the shortcut map, just press Escape.

Make your own web apps

A lot of popular websites and web services (including practically everything from Google) are available as Chrome apps, which are usually just separate Chrome windows without the tab or navigation bar. If one of your favorite sites doesn’t have one of these apps, you can roll your own with a built-in tool.

chrome os add to shelf

Michael Crider/Digital Trends

In a standard Chrome window, navigate to a page you want to use as an app. Click the menu button (the one with three horizontal bars to the right of the URL bar), then click “More tools,” then “Add to shelf.” This will put a shortcut in the taskbar and the app tray with the page’s favicon, or just a letter if the page doesn’t have one. Right-click or Alt-click the new shortcut, then click “Open as window.”

chrome app window

Michael Crider/Digital Trends

Now whenever you click that shortcut in the task bar or search menu, it will open in its own minimal window with no tabs or URL bar. It’s a great way to separate tools or sites that you use often from primary Chrome windows. You can still get to the site by typing the URL bar in a normal tab. If you want to remove the shortcut, just right-click it in the apps tray or search bar and click “remove from Chrome.”

Adjust resolution and zoom

If you find text or images a little too hard to see on your Chromebook (especially on newer high-resolution screens), you’ve got a couple of options. Open Chrome’s primary menu by clicking on the clock in the lower-right corner, then click “Settings.” Click “Display settings” to start.

chrome resolution

Michael Crider/Digital Trends

On this screen you can change the resolution of your monitor. Unlike Windows or OS X laptops, Chromebooks don’t actually change the resolution being fed to the screen itself. Instead they change the virtual resolution, which keeps all portions of the interface sharp but renders them larger or smaller. If you want to make everything on your Chromebook bigger, including menu bars and app shortcuts, click the “Resolution” drop-down menu and choose a lower value. The screen will change immediately, so try a few different values to find one that’s comfortable for you.

If Chrome’s menus and other interface elements look alright but you want to change the scale of text and images on websites, go back to the main Settings menu, then click “Show advanced settings.” Scroll down until you see “Web content.” Here you can change the font size and page zoom manually — selecting font alone will change text size, but zooming in or out will make entire pages large or smaller.

chrome zoom

Michael Crider/Digital Trends

These values in the Settings menu control sizes across all web pages. You can customize the zoom on individual pages even more. Just press Ctrl and the plus or minus buttons in the main Chrome window to make text and images larger or smaller. To get back to the default zoom level, press Ctrl + 0 (zero).

Multitask like a pro

Chrome excels at single dedicated tasks, but sometimes you just want to use that windowed interface for all that it’s worth. Chrome has a little baked-in functionality that makes it easy to split the screen in two and put one tab, browser window, or app on either side. In fact it works a lot like Aero Snap in Windows 7 and later: click and drag the title bar of any app or tab to one edge of the screen, then release the mouse or trackpad button. The window will automatically fill half of the available space. Do the same with another app on the opposite side of the screen and the two of them together will take up the entire viewing area. It’s perfect for copying information or taking notes.

chrome multitask

Michael Crider/Digital Trends

Want an even easier way to achieve this? Hold down the Alt key and press the left or right bracket button, [ or ]. The active window will automatically snap to the corresponding edge. Repeat the command and it will shrink further, taking up only about one fifth of the screen’s width. Press Alt and the opposite bracket key and you can bring the window back into the full view. Practice these commands and you’ll be able to create an optimal window layout in seconds.

Get your Caps Lock back

By default, Chromebooks replace the Caps Lock key in the standard keyboard layout with a Search button that activates the Google Search popup. If you rely on a conventional Caps Lock key (or you just like shouting at people with all-caps text), there’s an easy way to get it back. Go back to the Chrome settings menu by clicking the clock in the lower left corner, then clicking “Settings.” Click “Keyboard settings.”

chrome caps lock

Michael Crider/Digital Trends

The first option is “Search.” Click the drop-down menu and you can re-assign the button: disable it entirely, create another Escape, Ctrl, or Alt key, or set it to Caps Lock to match standard keyboards. Make your selection, then click “OK.” Congratulations! you now have your Cruise Control for Cool button once again.

Product Review

The HP Chromebook x2 takes Chrome to the next level

HP’s Chromebook x2 acts a lot like Microsoft’s Surface Book 2, with a well-equipped tablet that plugs into a keyboard base that’s heavy enough to keep the combination mostly stable. Is this premium Chromebook the best one you can buy?

Our favorite tips and tricks to help you master your Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Apple's not the only game in town when it comes to productivity tablets. Samsung's Galaxy Tab S4 has all the features you'll need to get work done. Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4.

Photoshop isn't required to resize images. Here are 6 ways to do it in seconds

Resizing an image isn't the toughest thing in the world, even if it may seem like a hassle. Here's how to resize an image using six tools that allow you to make quick work of any photo, regardless of your operating system.

The best laptop deals for September 2018

Whether you're getting ready for a new school year, shopping for a special student, or just need a new computer, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going, from discounted MacBooks to an on-the-go gaming PC.

Winamp media player might be back from the dead, with Windows 10 support

Winamp might be back from the dead, and it's bringing support for Microsoft Windows 10 with the first new software release since its acquisition by Radionomy in 2014. Fans of the media player will also enjoy new features and bug fixes.

Heavily overclocked RTX 2080 Ti steals every 3DMark record

Nvidia's RTX 2080 Ti is already the most powerful graphics card ever released, but with liquid nitrogen cooling overclocker Kingpin was able to push the card to new heights and break a bunch of records in the process.
Product Review

Canon Pixma Pro-10 review

If you plan to put those digital high-resolution images you’ve shot with a DSLR onto paper, Canon’s Pixma Pro-10 will deliver gallery-quality prints. Just don’t expect it to be speedy.

Chromebook keyboard showcase may have leaked Pixelbook 2 images

As we approach Google's #madebygoogle event taking place in early October, new rumors and leaks for a possible Pixelbook 2 are appearing online. This latest one may show what the rumored Nocturne design will look like.
Virtual Reality

Walmart stocks its stores with VR training for its employees

Walmart will begin rolling out virtual reality training experiences to all of its stores this year with the power of Oculus Go. More than 6,300 stores will receive the new technology, helping the company train its employees.

Tap Strap wearable keyboard gains support for VR applications

TAP System's wearable keyboard gains support for virtual reality, now compatible with Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Rift, and HTV headsets. Type and tap for up to eight hours in VR without needing to look at a physical keyboard.

Wi-Fi vulnerability could allow attackers to steal your data on unencrypted sites

A 20-year-old security flaw in the design of the Wi-Fi standard and how computers communicate using the transmission control protocol could allow hackers to perform a web cache poisoning attack to steal your data and login information.

Walmart takes $380 off the MacBook Air for a limited time

Walmart is offering a steep discount on the MacBook Air. Though the $380 discount is lovely, this offer comes with an extra charger to sweeten the deal. If you're looking to pick up an Apple MacBook for less, now is an excellent time.

PDF to JPG conversion is quick and easy using these simple methods

Converting file formats can be an absolute pain, but it doesn't have to be. We've put together a comprehensive guide on how to convert a PDF to JPG, no matter which operating system you're running.

Documentation shows data recovery possible for Macs with T2 coprocessor

New documentation from Apple shows that data recovery is indeed possible for Macs with T2 Coprocessor thanks to internal diagnostics software, giving users of the 2018 MacBook Pro new hope in the event of a system failure.