chrome os gestures

Chromebooks aren’t just laptops anymore. A growing number of Chrome OS devices feature touch-screen displays and removable keyboards. If you’re using a Chromebook with a touch screen in Tablet mode, you should know how to use gestures to navigate the interface.

To use the touch-screen gestures, you’ll need to put your Chromebook in “tablet mode.” This happens when you flip your screen over, detach the keyboard, or simply don’t have a keyboard at all.

You’ll find visual differences when you’re in Desktop mode …

regular mode
Desktop Mode

… and Tablet mode.

chrome os tablet mode
Tablet Mode

You can tell that you’re in tablet mode when the shortcuts in the navigation bar (aka the “Shelf”) disappear and the UI gets slightly bigger.

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There are five gestures to know, and they’ll make navigating the tablet interface a lot easier. Here’s how to perform them.

Go to the Home Screen

To go to the home screen, which is the app list and search bar in tablet mode, do a long swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Imagine that you’re flinging the current window away.

Show Pinned Apps (Shelf Shortcuts)

In tablet mode, your pinned apps (the apps normally shown on the Shelf) are hidden. You can bring them up with a short swipe up from the bottom of the screen. They always show on the home screen.

View All Open App Windows

To get a zoomed-out look at all the apps and windows that you have open, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and hold for a second. This is called the “Overview” screen. You might already be familiar with this gesture if you use a modern Android smartphone or iPhone.

Split the Screen

Split-screen (placing two windows side by side) is a great tool for productivity. You can do this by going into the Overview screen (Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and hold.) and then dragging an app to the left or right side of the screen. The edge of the screen will light up, indicating that you can drop the app to make it take up that half of the screen.

Once the first app is in split-screen, you can tap a second app to fill the other half.

Go Back to Previous Screen

Lastly, to go back to the previous screen, whether that’s the previous page in the browser or going “Back” in an app, swipe in from the left side of the display.


These gestures make the Chromebook touch-screen experience feel much more natural and fluid. Once you get the hang of them, you’ll be navigating like a breeze.

RELATED: Master Chrome OS With These Chromebook Keyboard Shortcuts

Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has close to a decade of experience covering consumer technology and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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