ChromeOS Intelligence

7 hidden tricks for your Chromebook trackpad

You'd never know it, but your Chromebook's trackpad holds some of the finest time-saving shortcuts ChromeOS has to offer.

Chromebook Trackpad Gestures
Maiconfz/Google/JR Raphael

ChromeOS Intelligence

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When we talk about gestures, we tend to focus on the fingie-on-the-screen variety — whether we're talkin' Android gestures and all the possibilities on that front or chewing over the similar set of on-screen gestures Chromebooks have had for a while now.

But there's a whole other category of time-saving swipers sneakin' around in your greatest Googley gizmos. These swipes are relevant to ChromeOS, specifically, and they'll have you flying around your favorite Chromebook in record time — once you remember to actually start using 'em.

Here are seven Chromebook trackpad gestures that'll work wonders for your productivity. And note, too, that some of these shortcuts — the ones related to the web, specifically, with browser-level functions that aren't connected directly to ChromeOS — will work within the Chrome browser on other operating systems as well.

Fingers ready. Here we go...

Chromebook trackpad gesture No. 1: The sideways scroll

You probably know you can scroll up or down by placing two fingers on your Chromebook trackpad simultaneously — right next to each other — but I frequently find myself forgetting that the same basic gesture also works for moving around horizontally.

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So the next time you find yourself needing to scroll left or right on an especially wide surface within ChromeOS, place two fingers on the trackpad together — either next to each other or with one on top of the other. (Both approaches will work. It's totally up to you!)

All that's left is to swipe your fingers sideways and giggle giddily as your screen mimics the movement.

Chromebook trackpad gesture No. 2: The back zap

Speaking of two-fingered movements, keep your double digits down for a moment and swipe all the way to the left on your trackpad whilst viewing any web page. Provided you'd been on some other site in the same tab before that, that'll take you back one step in your browsing history (the equivalent of hitting Alt and the left-arrow key on your keyboard).

And if you've already moved back a step in your web history timeline, swiping two fingers to the right on your Chromebook's trackpad will take you forward to the next page in your browsing spectrum.

Chromebook trackpad gesture No. 3: The tab switch trick

This one's for all my fellow obsessive tab organizers: Anytime you've got multiple tabs open within a single Chrome window on your Chromebook, a sideways swipe with three fingers on your trackpad will toggle you over 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 instant view

ChromeOS's Overview screen — y'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've got open at any given moment as well as move quickly into any other app or website, manage multiple ChromeOS Virtual Desks (more on those in a second), and even zip yourself into a quick 'n' simple split-screen setup (by dragging any active app or process toward either side of the screen).

And, yep, you guessed it: Your Chromebook's trackpad offers up an extra-efficient way to slide right into that Overview area with the flick of a finger — or, more specifically, three.

Swipe upward on your Chromebook's trackpad with three fingers together anytime to open up that ChromeOS Overview interface, then swipe back downward with those same three phalanges to move back out of it when you're done.

It's one of the most useful ChromeOS shortcuts you'll ever remember.

Chromebook trackpad gesture No. 5: Your quick tab closer

Here's another three-fingered beauty worth keeping in your noggin's active storage area: When you want to close a tab, you can simply point your mouse at its title area — at the top of the screen — and then click or tap your trackpad with three fingers together.

Poof! Who knew?!

Chromebook trackpad gesture No. 6: Instant new tab delivery

On the flip side, when you want to open a link within a page you're viewing in a new tab, get your cursor on the link and then click or tap that shiny ol' trackpad with three fingers again.

That'll beam the associated page into its own separate tab within the same browser window, just like if you had held down the Ctrl key whilst clicking.

Chromebook trackpad gesture No. 7: The Virtual Desk fast-flip

Last but not least, back to those Virtual Desks: Anytime you've got more than one desktop open on your Chromebook (and if you have no idea what I'm talking about here, go read this), you can flip from one Virtual Desk to another with one supremely useful Chromebook trackpad command.

Just swipe left or right on your trackpad with four fingers touching down together. It's a slightly awkward motion to get accustomed to, but once you do, you'll never go back to the clunky manual alternative again.

And with that, just one gesture remains: a big fat thumbs-up for all the splendid seconds you're about to start saving.

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