How to Use Chromebook Function Keys

Chromebooks are relatively new as compared to their counterparts (like Windows PCs, Macs, PCs, etc.). These ChromeOS machines have a variety of different functionalities as compared to others in the same niche. To facilitate many of its features, the ChromeOS developers have removed the function keys (along with the Caps lock key) from the Chromebook’s keyboard. But no need to worry, there are other ways to make it work.   

No Function Keys on the Chromebook’s Keyboard

Usage & Benefits of Function Keys

Function keys or F keys are the F1 to F12 keys located as the top row keys on a normal PC keyboard. These keys are available in Windows, Mac, Linux, etc. These keys are used as shortcuts or to perform certain functions, like printing data, saving files, or refreshing a web page. For example, the F1 key is usually the default help key in many applications. The F5 key is used to refresh a web page in many browsers. The function of these keys differs as per the OS of your system.

Function Keys on a Chromebook

Whether you are a layman or an expert, there comes a time when you may have to use a function key on a Chromebook. There are two methods to do so:

  • By Using the Keyboard Shortcuts
  • By Turning Top Row Keys into Function Keys

1. Use the Keyboard Shortcuts to Use the Function Keys on the Chromebook

Your Chromebook is equipped with shortcuts to enable function keys when required. This works very well for the occasional use of the F keys.

  1. Press and hold the Search button (also called the Launcher key) on the Chromebook’s keyboard.
  2. Now press the number key for which you want to use the function key. For example, to use the F5 key: simultaneously press the Search button and the number 5 key on the Chromebook’s keyboard.
    Numeric Keyboard Shortcuts on the Chromebook

This method might not work on some of the newer Chromebooks as on these machines, the top row has replaced the numeric key functionality as function keys. You can get an idea of the keys from the image shown below:

Top Row of the Chromebook’s Keyboard as the Shortcut Function Keys

For these Chromebooks, the keys between the ESC and the Power keys on the top row of the Chromebook’s keyboard work as the function keys when pressed with the Search key. For example, to press the F1 key, you may press the Search key and the back arrow key. 

If you are not satisfied with this and want to use numeric keys as function keys when pressed with the Launcher key, then:

  1. Launch Chrome and enter the following in the address bar:
    chrome://flags/#improved-keyboard-shortcuts
  2. Now disable the Improved Keyboard Shortcuts flag and then you can use the numeric keys with the Search or Launcher key as function keys.

In case, you are using numeric keys as function keys, then

  • To use the F10 key, press the Search key and the 0 numeric key.
  • When you need to use the F11 key, press the Search or Launcher key and hyphen (-) key.
  • To use the F12 key, press the Search or Launcher key and Plus (+) key.

A point to note is that the mapping of the Launcher key must be in its default state. If you have changed the configuration of the Launcher key, then the shortcut functions key may not work on a Chromebook.

2. Set Top Row Keys as the Function Keys

If you are a professional like a developer, then you may need to use function keys excessively and the keyboard shortcut method might not be of any worth. For such usage, enabling the top row keys of the Chromebook’s keyboard as function keys is the best option.

  1. Open the Quick Settings Panel of the Chromebook and click on Settings.
    Open Chromebook Settings
  2. Now, in the left pane of the Chromebook Settings, head to the Device tab.
    Open Keyboard Settings in the Device Tab of the Chromebook
  3. Now, in the right pane, open the Keyboard and then enable Treat Top-Row Keys as Function Keys by toggling its status switch to on. If the said option is not available, then update the OS of your Chromebook to the latest build and try again.
    Enable Treat Top-Row Keys as Function Keys on the Chromebook
  4. Then you can use the top row of the Chromebook’s keyboard as the function keys. 

Now the top row of the Chromebook’s keyboard will function as a function key row but there is an issue. You can no longer use the Chromebook shortcuts like taking a screenshot with the shortcut key or controlling the volume of the Chromebook through the shortcut key as these keys will be working as function keys. Do not get disheartened, you can press the Search button or Launcher key and the required shortcut key to make it work. In case, you think that the usage of the original keys was better, then simply disable the Treat Top-Row Keys as Function Keys. 

If you are finding it difficult to locate which key belongs to which function key, then using the on-screen keyboard (or you can try an external keyboard) will help you find the function key required. You can also press the Ctrl + Alt + / to list down all the Chromebook shortcuts.

Find Chromebook Keyboard Shortcuts
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.
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