The shelf on the bottom of your Chromebook’s display is not just to launch Chrome or the Files app. Google has packed some neat tricks in the shelf, which can be utilized to make multitasking easier on Chromebooks. Here are the multiple ways in which you can use the shelf to enhance your Chrome OS experience.
1. Customize your Shelf’s Position
By default on Chrome OS, the shelf is at the bottom of the screen. You can shift its position to the left or the right in order to free up space on the bottom. Since most websites scroll vertically, removing the shelf from the bottom gives you more real estate to get a better view of web pages. Screenshots will also cover more area. So, how do you shift the shelf’s position? That’s easy.
Right click on an empty area in the shelf, and you will see a popup menu. In the pop-up menu, select ‘Shelf Position’ and change it to left or right, whichever you prefer.
You can also make the shelf invisible by clicking on the ‘Autohide shelf’ option in the popup menu from the screenshot above. The shelf will automatically disappear, and will only come up when you hover your mouse in the shelf’s position.
2. Add Apps and Webpages to Shelf
Do you ever wish that you had Whatsapp, Facebook or Gmail as icons on your dock, rather than having to type them in the address bar? Well, the shelf allows you to have one click access to all your favorite sites. You can add all kinds of websites and apps to the Chrome OS shelf, in order to get to them in one single click. Let us see how –
Suppose that you want Whatsapp Web to appear as an icon on your dock.
1) Go to web.whatsapp.com using Chrome.
2) Once you are there, click the three vertical dots on the top right of the Chrome browser.
3) In the pop-up menu, go to ‘More Tools’ and select ‘Add to Shelf’.
This pop-up window will then show up, asking you to confirm.
As you can see, the pop-up will ask you if you want to ‘Open as window’. This means that you can have Whatsapp or any other app (like Facebook, Calendar or even Youtube) open as a separate window. This is immensely helpful for multitasking, as you can then navigate between different apps using the Dock or the Alt+Tab shortcut.
If you un-check ‘Open as window’, then the website will open normally as a new tab in Chrome, which can clutter your tabs and make it difficult to switch comfortably between different apps. For apps like Whatsapp, Facebook and Google Calendar, I highly recommend opening them as separate windows, as they make it much easier to segregate work on your Chrome desktop.
If you un-checked ‘Open as window’ earlier, and now want an app to Open as a window (or the other way around), you can change that setting directly from the dock itself.
Right-click (/double-tap touchpad) on the app icon in the dock, and check/un-check ‘Open as window’.
When you have multiple apps open in different windows, you can also scroll down with three fingers on the touchpad to see a live preview of all of them on the same screen.
Hence, docking apps to shelf and opening them in separate windows is great for multitasking on Chromebooks. For a list of cool keyboard shortcuts on Chrome OS, click here.