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Home / Tips and Tricks / Chromebook 101: What's different about the Chromebook keyboard?

Chromebook 101: What's different about the Chromebook keyboard?



One of the first shocks you'll notice when buying your first Chromebook is likely to be when you look at the keyboard. Where is the Caps Lock? What's (if you have a pixelbook) that weird-looking button between the Ctrl and Alt keys? What's that weird key in the top row that looks like a square with two straight lines next to it?

Google has optimized the keyboard of its Chromebooks to highlight the differences between Chrome OS and Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS. And what makes things even more confusing is that the layout of the keyboard can vary depending on the Chromebook model used. For example, if you use a pixelbook, you might have some extra keys. In addition, a key that displays a search icon in most Chromebooks may have a circular status icon in a pixel book.

This is a brief introduction to explain the differences. Although your Chromebook may be slightly different, this should be your reference until you become familiar with your new keyboard (or until you reassign the keys according to your preferences).


  Chromebook keyboard

A typical Chromebook keyboard with highlighting Some of the special keys not normally found on Macs or Windows laptops.

The top row

Instead of the usual numbered function keys (F1, F2, etc.), Google has used a number of different dedicated keys. This is what each of them is designed to do from left to right:

  • Esc (Escape): the common problem-solving button
  • Previous: One Page Previous
  • Refresh: Refresh Your Page [19659011] Full Page: Toggles the current page to take the entire screen.
  • Show Window: Displays all open windows on the screen. If you have multiple virtual desktops, they will appear at the top of the screen.
  • Brightness reduced
  • Brightness increased
  • Play / Pause
  • Mute
  • Reduce volume
  • Increase volume
  • Turn on / off (Pixelbook Go) or open the status area (Pixelbook 2017) [19659019] Other Keys

    Between the tab keys and the shift keys on the left side of the keyboard, where the Caps Lock key is normally located, is either the Start key or the Search key, depending on your system. The former launches the Chrome OS app drawer. The latter invokes a search field.

    If you have a pixel book, the Assistant button between the Ctrl and Alt keys at the bottom left of the keyboard displays the Google Assistant.

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