Chromebooks may be all about simplicity, but don’t be fooled: Beneath their intuitive outer layer lies a web of advanced options. And you don’t have to be a power user to embrace it.
Getting around Chrome OS
1. The Chrome OS launcher — the drawer-like interface that appears when you tap the Search key or hit the circle icon in the lower-left corner of the screen — is actually a powerful universal search tool. Just start typing as soon as it appears, and you can find and open apps, pull up websites, and even get answers to specific questions right then and there — no clicking or digging required.
2. The launcher has some easily overlooked extra powers, too. Try typing in calculations (“172.4/3”), for instance, or unit conversions (“14.9 feet to meters”) to put Google to work at the system level.
3. If you use an Android phone, keep an eye on the very top part of your Chromebook’s launcher. Anytime you’ve had an article open recently in Chrome on your phone, you’ll see that page’s title appear as the first suggested item directly beneath the launcher’s search bar. Click or tap it to open the article and pick up where you left off.
4. Chrome OS has a hidden gesture for accessing the launcher, which is especially useful when you’re using a Chromebook as a tablet: Simply swipe up from an open area at the bottom of the screen, and — just like with Android on Google’s Pixel phones — the full launcher will appear.
5. You can hide the shelf — the row of pinned “favorites” at the bottom of your screen — by right-clicking it (clicking with two fingers) or long-pressing on it and then selecting the “Autohide shelf” option that appears. That’ll cause the shelf to disappear anytime you have an app or window open and then reappear when you mouse over its area or swipe upward from the bottom of the screen. It’ll also always show up when you’re viewing your desktop.[
6. Quickly open any item on your shelf by pressing Alt and then the number key that corresponds with its position: Alt-1 for the first app in the list, Alt-2 for the second, and so on.
7. Right-click or long-press on any app in your shelf or within the main launcher to reveal a series of program-specific shortcuts. You’ll find the most options with Android apps, many of which offer one-touch links to functions like composing new messages, starting new documents, or jumping to specific folders or accounts.
8. As of 2018, Chrome OS boasts a distinctly Android-like combined Quick Settings and notification panel in its lower-right corner. You can open it without moving your hands off your keyboard by pressing Shift-Alt-N from anywhere in the system.
9. Just like on Android, it’s possible to clear out all of your Chrome OS notifications in one fell swoop — but the command is curiously tough to find. Here’s the secret: With your notification panel open, scroll up as far as you can on the area of the screen showing notifications. Once you’ve moved past the bottommost notification, you’ll reveal a “Clear all” button