Chromebooks differ from standard laptops in a number of ways, and not just in terms of software. What is the most noticeable physical difference? Chromebooks include keyboards with a range of Chrome OS-specific features, so common keys like F1 and even Caps Lock are not available. This can be a pleasant adjustment or a huge pain, depending on how you work.
But do not be discouraged if you do not like this setting. You can actually reassign many of the keys to your Chromebook to drastically change the way you use it.
Just go to the Keyboard section of your Chromebook settings to get started:
- Click the clock in the lower right corner of the screen.
- Click the gear icon on the panel that appears.
- Scroll down to the Device subheading and click Keyboard.
There, you will see a list of keys that you can customize:
- The start key (also called the search key)
- The Ctrl key
- The Alt key
- The Escape key
- The Backspace key
- Assistant Key (Pixelbook only)
Reassign the Chromebook keyboard by following these steps
Each key can be reassigned to handle any of the following functions:
- Launch / Search (Chrome OS app drawer and search message)
- Assistant (on devices where Google Assistant is available)
To reassign a key, just click on the box next to it and select the function you want it to do. For example, you might want to reset the Boot (or Search) key to Caps Lock. If you prefer to keep the start key in its default position, but still want Caps Lock, you can assign the Caps Lock function to the Escape or Assistant keys.
If you have a Chromebook other than the Pixelbook (which, as mentioned earlier, has an exclusive Google Assistant key), you may want to assign the Escape key or even the boot key to manage Assistant access.
There is another keyboard reset option that is worth mentioning: Treat the keys in the top row as function keys, which are below the list of programmable keys. The special keys on the top row of your Chromebook keyboard – the commands to move backwards, reload a page, maximize windows, etc. – will change to standard F1 function keys if you turn on the switch in parallel. In this case, you will still be able to use their special functions if you first hold down the start key and then press them.