7 hidden tricks for your Chromebook trackpad
When we talk about gestures, we tend to focus on the nitty-gritty on-screen variety – whether we’re talking about Android gestures and all the possibilities on that front or mulling over the similar set of gestures on the screen that Chromebooks have had for a while now.
But there’s a whole other category of time-saving swipers sneaking around in your best Googley goodies. These swipes are specifically relevant to ChromeOS, and they’ll have you flying around your favorite Chromebook in record time—once you remember to actually start using it.
Here are seven Chromebook trackpad gestures that will do wonders for your productivity. And also note that some of these shortcuts – those related to the web, specifically, to browser-level functions that is not linked directly to ChromeOS – will also work within the Chrome browser on other operating systems.
Fingers ready. Here we go…
Chromebook Keyboard Gesture No. 1: The sideways scroll
You probably know that you can scroll up or down by placing two fingers simultaneously on your Chromebook’s trackpad – right next to each other – but I often forget that the same basic gesture also work to move around horizontally.
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So, the next time you find yourself needing to scroll left or right on a particularly wide surface within ChromeOS, place two fingers together on the trackpad — or next to each other or with one on top of the other. (Both approaches will work. It’s completely up to you!)
All that’s left is to swipe your fingers sideways and giggle as your screen mimics the motion.
Chromebook Keyboard Gesture No. 2: The back
Speaking of two-finger gestures, hold your double digits down for a moment and swipe all the way to the left on your trackpad while viewing any web page. Provided you were previously on another website in the same tab, this will take you back one step in your browsing history (the equivalent of pressing Alt and the left arrow key on your keyboard).
And if you’ve already moved back a step in your web history timeline, swipe two fingers to the right on your Chromebook’s trackpad will take you forward to the next page in your browsing spectrum.
Chromebook Keyboard Gesture No. 3: The tab link trick
This one is for all my fellow obsessive tab organizers: Whenever you have multiple tabs open within a single Chrome window on your Chromebook, a three-finger sideways swipe on your trackpad will switch you to the next or previous tab in the list (depending on whether you swipe right or left of course).
Ahhh… switching between tabs has never been so satisfying.
Chromebook Trackpad Gesture No. 4: The Overview quick view
ChromeOS’s Overview Screen—you know, the thing that shows all your open apps and tabs—is one of the operating system’s most underappreciated elements.
It gives you an easy way to see everything you have open at any given moment, as well as quickly move to any other app or website, manage multiple ChromeOS virtual desktops (more on this in a second), and even in a quick ‘n’ simple split screen setup (by dragging any active app or process to either side of the screen).
And, yes, you guessed it: your Chromebook’s trackpad offers an extra efficient way to slide right into that Overview area — or, more specifically, three — with the flick of a finger.
At any time on your Chromebook’s trackpad, swipe three fingers together to open that ChromeOS overview interface, then swipe back down with the same three flanks to move back out of it when you’re done.
This is one of the most useful ChromeOS shortcuts you will ever remember.
Chromebook trackpad gesture no. 5: Your quick tab is approaching
Here’s another three-finger beauty worth keeping in your noggin’s active storage area: When you want to close a tab, you can simply point your mouse to its title area—at the top of the screen—and then on your trackpad with three clicks or tap fingers together.
Poo! Who knew?!
Chromebook trackpad gesture no. 6: Instant delivery of new tabs
On the other hand, when you want to open a link within a page that you enter in a new tab, get your cursor on the link and then click or tap again on that shiny old three-finger trackpad.
This will beam the associated page to its own separate tab within the same browser window, just like if you held down the Ctrl key while clicking.
Chromebook Keyboard Gesture No. 7: Quickly flip the virtual desktop
Last but not least, back to those virtual desktops: Anytime you have more than one desktop open on your Chromebook (and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, go read this), you can from one virtual browse Desktop to another with one extremely useful Chromebook control panel command.
Just swipe left or right on your trackpad with four fingers snapping together. It’s a slightly awkward motion to get used to, but once you do, you’ll never go back to the clumsy manual alternative.
And with that, only one gesture remains: a big fat thumbs up for all the wonderful seconds you’re about to start saving.
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