How To Become A Chrome Power User, Part 1 – Master The Keyboard
Google Chrome for some time has been the browser of choice for many and although the majority of our web browsers can do some pretty impressive things, Chrome has continued to snatch up power users, one after another. I was one. And when we asked you, our readers, why you prefer the browser you use, the answer was clear that Google Chrome reigns among the MakeUseOf readership as well.
But these two articles aren’t about why Google Chrome is a better browser than all the others. This is about how you can become a better user of Chrome – a power user. And more specifically how to start the process simply with keyboard shortcuts.
Adopt Keyboard Shortcuts Into Your System
Using keyboard shortcuts in general can really boost your efficiency, but focusing on Chrome-specific ones is what this section is about. There are several that you can use to improve your browser experience. If you’re new to using keyboard shortcuts, it might seem less efficient at first, but if you keep making yourself use them and trying to add new ones to the mix here and there, you’ll find that you too can be a keyboard Jedi master.
Disclaimer: There are many instances where the Windows and Mac shortcuts are the “same” where the Control (Ctrl) key equals the Command (Cmd) key and the Alt key equals the Option key. Unless otherwise stated, assume that this is the case.
Navigate Through Pages
Sure you can go back and forth with the backwards and forwards arrows on your browser, but your hands are already at the keyboard, so instead try using the Backspace key (Delete in Mac). To go forward, just do Shift+Backspace (Shift+Delete in Mac).
Now what about if you want to navigate through the page itself? Perhaps you’ve scrolled down and now want to go back up. Instead of spending the time scrolling, just tap the Home key. Alternatively, you can press the End key to go to the end of the page. You can also use these in other situations, such as typing a comment and you want to quickly get to one end or the other of it.
Quickly Zoom In & Out
Perhaps you just use your touchpad on your laptop to do this, but if you use a mouse or are at a desktop, you don’t have that option. Using a mouse you can hold Ctrl/Cmd and scroll with the wheel. If you don’t use a mouse, but want to use a keyboard shortcut, Ctrl++ zooms in and Ctrl+- zooms out.
Probably the most useful one though is Ctrl+0, which restores a webpage back to the default size. Why is this the most useful? Because I’m always accidentally zooming in with my touchpad. So quickly being able to restore the webpage to the original state is a nice option.
Sooner or later, if you haven’t already, you’ll come upon the need to refresh a webpage. How do you usually do this? Close it and type it in the address bar again? Click the Refresh Page button? A much faster way is to do Ctrl+R. In Windows, you can also hit the F5 key.
To refresh the page without the cached copy, use Ctrl+Shift+R.
Move Through Your Tabs
Whether you have seven or twenty tabs open, going between them can be a hassle at times. Using keyboard shortcuts can lighten the load a bit and speed up the process. There are a couple methods of going about this. Ctrl+Tab and Ctrl+Shift+Tab move forward and back between tabs one at a time.
Another method is to use Ctrl in combination with numbers. For example Ctrl+1 would take you to the first tab, Ctrl+2, the second and so on. This works all the way up to the 8th tab. Ctrl+9 switches to the very last tab, regardless the number.
In Mac, Cmd+Option+Right Arrow and Cmd+Option+Left Arrow allow you to move back and forth.
Launch Full Screen Mode
Think of this mode as your “productivity mode” since it allows you to only view one webpage at a time and displays it across your entire screen. In addition, you can actually still scroll through your tabs too by using the keyboard shortcuts mentioned earlier, but you just can’t see them.
In Windows, the keyboard shortcut is F11. In Mac do Cmd+Shift+F to enable full screen mode.
Note: Some keyboards, such as mine, have the Function keys set as “second function”, meaning you must use the Fn key to use them.
Opening, Closing And Reopening Tabs & Windows
Opening Tabs: Ctrl+T
Opening Windows: Ctrl+N
Open Incognito Window (AKA Private Browsing): Ctrl+Shift+N
Another method of opening new pages is to type in the address bar of the existing web page, but instead of just hitting Enter, which would load the new web page in your existing tab, do Alt+Enter (or Cmd+Return in Mac) and a new tab will open up with that address, without your current page affected. Either way works – it’s all about what works best for you and your system.
Close Tab: Ctrl+W
Close All Tabs In Window: Ctrl+Shift+W
Reopen Closed Tab or Windows: Ctrl+Shift+T
Quickly Access The Omnibox (AKA Address Bar)
Whenever you need to type in a URL or search something from the Omnibox in Chrome, next time try the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+L, which automatically selects the Omnibox. You can do this no matter where you’re at in Chrome.
Open A Link In A New Tab
Similar to what we’ve already covered about not overwriting your current webpage, one of the biggest hassles is links which don’t automatically open in a new page. To get around this, hold Ctrl down while clicking the link, or if you have a middle mouse button, hover over the link and use the middle button to click it – it’ll automatically open in a new tab.
In addition, Ctrl+Shift+Click will open the link in a new tab and select it. This is different from the other method, which opens the tab in the background.
Simultaneously Move Multiple Tabs To A New Window
Although I don’t usually prefer lots of windows of Chrome, there are instances where you might want to separate groups of tabs from each other. But it’s a pain to drag and drop each tag individually to a new window. Instead, click one of the tabs you want to select it, then hold Ctrl or Shift down as you click all the others. Keep the keys pressed down as you drag the tabs away from the window and then release. This even works with pinned tabs.
Pro Tip: Want to keep moving these tabs? They will stay together without holding Ctrl or Shift as long as you haven’t clicked another tab in the same window they’re in that was not in the original selection. For instance. Once I move those three tabs in the image below back to another window with other tabs and click a tab other than those three, I can no longer move them.
Bookmark Current Or All Tabs
Want to quickly bookmark a page? By using the shortcut Ctrl+D you can save the page that you’re on. Or if you’d like to save all the pages you’re viewing, use Ctrl+Shift+D.
Show/Hide The Bookmarks Bar
Sometimes it’s nice to have a little more screen real estate and by hiding the bookmarks bar you can achieve this. Ctrl+Shift+B is your command for this one.
Autocomplete URLs Ending In .COM
Did you know you don’t have to type http:// or www or .com in the address bar when you want to visit a website? You can always bypass http:// and www and if the domain ends in .com simply hit Ctrl+Enter (Mac: Cmd+Return) and Chrome will take care of the rest for you.
View Quickly View Past Page History
Have you ever found yourself continuously hitting the Backspace or Delete key in Mac to find the page you were on 14 clicks back? What a hassle, especially if you have a slow connection and have to wait for each… page… to… load. There’s a better solution. Click and hold the page navigation arrows and a dropdown menu of all the previous pages you visited within that tab will appear. Magic right? Nope… just Chrome!
Of course if you want all the Chrome history, it’s only a keyboard shortcut away with Ctrl+H.
Other Helpful Shortcuts To Know
There are a lot of keyboard shortcuts that you can master, but a few non-browser specific ones are Ctrl+F to search any webpage for text, and my recent favorite (but Windows only) Start+Left Arrow/Right Arrow, which docks the current window to the left or right side of your screen – much easier than dragging it around.
There are a lot of keyboard shortcuts to know, so here are a few resources to help you out
- Article: 25 Cool Windows 7 Keyboard Tricks That Will Impress Your Friends
- Article: Everything You Need To Know About Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcuts
- Article: Learn Your Keyboard Shortcuts Using CheatSheet [Mac]
- Article: Master These Universal Keyboard Shortcuts For Text Editing
- Cheat Sheet: Google Chrome Shortcuts
- Cheat Sheet: Windows Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts, without a doubt, will make you more efficient and perhaps even impress a few people in the process. However, they are only the beginning though– there is a lot more to using Chrome as a power user. Be sure to watch for the second article for even more in-depth coverage.
But for now, you have enough to keep your hands full. Do you have a favorite Chrome keyboard shortcut that I left out? Or perhaps you have a particular question about them? Either way, feel free to share them in the comments.