Chromebooks are pretty different from traditional laptops in a lot of ways — and not just because of their software.
The most obvious physical difference? Chromebooks feature keyboards with a variety of Chrome OS-specific functions, which means they don’t have standard keys like F1 or even Caps Lock. Depending on your style of working, that could be a welcome change or a massive pain.
If you aren’t thrilled with that arrangement, though, don’t despair. You can actually remap a fair number of your Chromebook’s keys and dramatically change how you use your device.
To get started, simply head into the Keyboard section of your Chromebook’s settings:
- Click the clock in the lower-right corner of the screen.
- Tap the gear-shaped icon in the panel that appears.
- Scroll down to the Device subhead and click the Keyboard option.
There, you’ll see a list of keys you can customize:
- The Launcher key (also called the Search key)
- The Ctrl key
- The Alt key
- The Escape key
- The Backspace key
- The Assistant key (on Pixelbooks only)
Each key can be remapped to handle any of the following functions:
- Launcher / Search (the Chrome OS app drawer and search prompt)
- Caps Lock
- Assistant (on devices where Google Assistant is available)
To remap any key, just click the box alongside it and select whatever function you’d like it to have. You might want to change the Launcher (or Search) key back to a Caps Lock, for instance. Or, if you like having the Launcher key in its default role but still miss Caps Lock, you might want to assign the Caps Lock function to your Escape or Assistant keys.
If you have any Chromebook other than the Pixelbook (which, as mentioned before, has a dedicated Google Assistant key) and want easier access to Assistant, you might consider assigning the Escape key or even the Launcher key to handle that function.
There’s one more keyboard remapping option worth noting: beneath that list of customizable keys, you’ll see a setting called Treat top-row keys as function keys. If you activate the toggle alongside that, the specialty keys on the top row of your Chromebook’s keyboard — the commands for going back, reloading a page, maximizing a window, and so on — will be transformed into standard F1-style function keys. You’ll still be able to access their specialty functions in that scenario but only if you first hold down the Launcher key and then press them.
Update May 25th, 2022, 2:30PM ET: This article was originally published on October 21st, 2019, and has been updated with a few slight clarifications about the Launcher / Search key.