chromebook function keys

Computer keyboards are all pretty similar, but Chromebooks break the mold. Instead of the typical function keys, there’s a row of keys for specific Chrome OS functions. However, the function keys are still present if you know where to look.

The image below shows the top row of keys on a typical Chromebook keyboard. It may not look like it, but there are function keys hidden in that row. The keys between ESC and Power/Lock double as F1 through F10. We’ll show you how to use them.

chromebook top row

There are two ways to utilize the hidden function keys on a Chromebook. The method you choose will depend on how often you need the function keys. The first method doesn’t require any configuration.

Simply hold down the Search/Launcher key and press one of the keys in the top row. This enables the secondary purpose of the key, which in the case of the top row, is F1, F2, F3, etc.

hold down Search and tap the top keys

One important thing to note is that this won’t work if you have changed the function of the Search/Launcher key. It needs to be in its default state.

The second method is a more permanent solution. You can choose to have the top row always act as function keys.

First, click the clock on the Shelf to bring up the Quick Settings panel. Select the gear icon to open the Settings menu.

open Quick Settings and tap the gear

In the Settings app, go to the “Device” section.

device section

Now, select “Keyboard” from the “Device” section.

select keyboard

Scroll down a bit and you’ll see “Treat Top-Row Keys as Function Keys.” Toggle the switch on.

toggle on use top row as function keys

That’s it. What we’ve done is flip the purpose of the top row. The default actions are now F1, F2, F3, etc., and you can hold down the Search/Launcher key to use the Chrome OS functions.

It’s unfortunate that Chromebook keyboards don’t show the function keys on the top row labels. You’ll have to learn which Chrome OS icons are associated with which function keys. If you use function keys a lot, these are good tricks to know.

RELATED: How to Get a Caps Lock Key on Your Chromebook

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Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing 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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