If you own a Chromebook, you have probably noticed the new addition that Google has made to the keyboard, which is the Search key. This key is supposed to add the practice of searching on Google to the hardware itself. After all, that is what the Chromebook as a product is about, tying you into the Google environment. However, Google has been kind and allowed us to reconfigure this Search key into a third ‘alt’ key or ‘Caps Lock’ (which was bumped out to make space for the search key).
In case you don’t find the search key useful for its default purpose, you can easily choose to map it onto another function. Here’s how to go about doing that –
- Go to settings from the dashboard on the bottom-right corner of the screen (where you also have your wifi and bluetooth controls
- On the Settings window, scroll (or alternatively search) to the subheading ‘Device’ and then go to the Keyboard option.
- Under the Keyboard option, you will see drop-down menus to reconfigure the Search key, as well as the Ctrl, Alt, Escape and Backspace keys. You can choose from a list of predefined functions for these keys.
Note that you can also make the search key the Caps Lock key, in case you really missed having Caps Lock.
Another unique thing about Chromebook keyboards is that they got rid of the function keys (F1 to F12) commonly found on windows keyboards. From the keyboard settings, you can also remap the number keys to act as function keys when you press the search key with them. The use case for this feature would be if you’re trying to run a Windows application or a webapp uses function keys, then you have them if you need them.
The keyboard configuration makes Chromebook keyboards space efficient and purposeful without compromising on a range of functionality. You can now choose which functions you want and which you find useless, and map your keys accordingly. This is a much appreciated step by Chrome OS, and I’m sure users will make very good use of it.