How to Save Time and Keystrokes on Your Chromebook

Dave Greenbaum

If you do a ton of typing on your Chromebook, you probably regret you can’t install your favorite PC or Mac program for text expansion. That doesn’t mean you can’t optimize your keystrokes and avoid the trackpad on your Chromebook. A few built-in tools and extensions can speed you through your day.

Typing on Keyboards
Need some help with typing?

Memorize or Create Unique Keyboard Shortcuts

Chromebooks are full of shortcuts that save you time. They’re not always the same as Windows or Mac shortcuts. To see the full list of universal shortcuts, press Ctrl + Alt + ?

chromebook shortcuts

Some apps and extensions have their own shortcuts. Type chrome://extensions/ in the Omnibox and scroll down to Keyboard Shortcuts. There you’ll see a list of potential shortcuts you can create for some services. Here I created ctrl + S to save something to Pocket. Anytime you add a new extension to Chrome, I suggest checking for shortcuts. I keep a sticky note of my favorite shortcuts in Google Keep.

keyboard_shortcuts

Want all the shortcuts for everything?  We’ve got them all here.

Auto Text Expander for Google Chrome

This Chrome extension is just like the text expanders for Windows and Mac. This extension works with Chromebooks offline. Put in your abbreviation and Auto Text Expander replaces it with the substitute text. This extension lets you use up to 150 abbreviations. The extension supports importing and exporting so you can synchronize among your Chrome installations. It doesn’t sync with your Google account, so you’ll manually need to sync.

autotextexpander

Not sure what to put in text expansion: We have some great ideas which you can read here.

Here’s where I put typical things like my address or complex HTML code. It doesn’t work with all sites or forms, but it’s still better than typing everything by hand. It’s smart enough to use variables like the date and time. Auto Text Expander works in the Omnibox. I use that function to quickly access settings separate from my bookmarks.

Custom Search Engines

When you need a search a specific site, don’t waste your time with irrelevant search results or a long URL. Create a custom search engine in Chrome by typing  chrome://settings/searchEngines from the Omnibox. You can also right-click in a blank area on the Omnibox and select Edit Search Engines.

Scroll down to the bottom of the list and find Add a new search engine. Type a label for the search in that box. In the Keyword box put the abbreviation you’ll use to search that site and then put in the search query. In this case, I’ll use GT in the omnibox to search the Guiding Tech website. Check out this post for a great explanation custom search engines in Chrome.

searchengine

Too Much Hassle?: We covered Shortmarks, which does this for you.

Google Keep for Snippets

Since Auto Text Expander doesn’t sync with devices, I keep long snippets in Google Keep. Google Keep works in any browser and any device. When I first got my Chromebook, I moved many of my snippets to Keep. One unique function of Google Keep is it’s ability to do OCR on pictures. That saves time for longer snippets.

keepsnippet

Web Alternatives: If you’d like a service to manage those snippets, check out our guide.

Chromebooks will never have the power of a desktop text expander, but these tips should speed up your typing.

Also See
#chromebook #keyboard

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Dave Greenbaum

Written By

Dave Greenbaum

I have a passion for helping people make technology work.

For my day job, I own a computer repair business in Lawrence, Kansas. Drawing on my support background, I focus on practical technology from the user perspective. I enjoy it all: Android, Chrome OS, iOS, MacOS, Windows and everything in between.