Using the keyboard with Google Chrome

Google Chrome was released in beta today (Tuesday, September 2). This is Google’s browser, currently only for Windows, and its arrival rekindles the browser wars into a three-way race between Mozilla’s Firefox, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and now Google’s Chrome.

Chrome offers much faster loading speed and more stability as its main differentiators, but also a new feature called an “incognito session” (which we’ll cover later today), plus the ability to quickly use web sites (such as Gmail) as applications on your desktop and Start menu.

The majority of the Firefox keyboard shortcuts we’ve covered here previously do work in Chrome. There are a few exceptions, which I’ve outlined below.

Here’s what works:

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with the keyboard control of Chrome, but there’s a lot of room for improvement in this beta:

  • There’s no apparent way to open the “Control the current page” and “Customize and control Google Chrome” dropdown menu icons in the upper right, except by clicking.
  • In a very serious breach of Windows usability, the F1 key does nothing at all instead of calling up help.
  • The list of keyboard shortcuts in their help is very incomplete.
  • Ctrl+S does nothing instead of saving the current web page, although you can right-click (even with Shift+F10) and choose “Save as” from the shortcut menu.
  • At least one keyboard command, Ctrl+O to open a file, has no listing anywhere on any menu. (All keyboard shortcut commands should have toolbar icons or menu entries as equivalents, and those icons or commands should always list the keyboard shortcut as a visual reminder.)
  • When Chrome offers to save a password when you log in to a site, there’s no keyboard method to say yes or no — you have to click on one of the buttons that appear.
  • You can’t navigate your saved bookmarks in a menu to select a site as you can with Firefox’s bookmark menu. (In Chrome, you can only click on the bookmark toolbar under “Other bookmarks” or search bookmarks in the omnibox using Ctrl+L and typing in a few letters from the bookmark.)

Here are some of the Firefox keyboard commands that do NOT work in Chrome:

6 thoughts on “Using the keyboard with Google Chrome”

  1. There are still a few “killer features” that firefox has above Chrome, and “find as you type” or “press / to find” is absolutely in that list for me.

    I routinely navigate websites in Firefox by typing the text of the link, and then pressing enter to visit that link. Not being able to do this means having to mouse down to the link and click. Its a *huge* difference.

  2. Interesting. I’m not a big user of slash myself (even though I understand why Unix users have it more ingrained due to the prominence of slash search with more and most editors). But I can definitely relate to where you’re coming from.

    With Chrome, your closest workaround is to type Ctrl+F, type the text, then click the link. That is a pain.

    I’ve submitted this page as a “bug” to the Chrome team, so hopefully they’ll check it out and add support before release.

  3. I noticed a minor typo – the hard refresh shortcuts are written right now as ctrl+r or ctrl+f5, when in reality it should read ctrl+shift+r or ctrl+f5.

    Also, I’m curious if anyone knows how to do “next” from the keyboard after doing ctrl+f. I’ve been searching everywhere, tried every ctrl/alt+key combo I could think of… nothing

  4. To do “find next” just press Ctrl+G or F3. To find previous, Ctrl+Shift+G, or Shift+F3.

    Actually, just Ctrl+F, search text, Enter and keep hitting Enter works too.

  5. I’m posting this info wherever I can find FAYT threads:

    If you want to have this feature (find as you type/FAYT) ENABLED IN CHROME BY DEFAULT, go to and read #4 for why it’s not.

    Then star ( = vote for) the issue, tell everyone who wants FAYT enabled by default to star it, and install tokland’s extension as an awesome workaround for the time being:

    Also, please join my group on LinkedIn, start a Facebook group, tweet about it, or do something to spread the word:

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