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Chromebook Tricks

These are the tricks that students learn to make a Chromebook unusable, or at least frustrating. Of course, we have advice on how to fix them.

Rotated screen

Students can turn the screen 90 degrees counter-clockwise by pressing:

ctrl + shift + ⟳

That last key is the “refresh” key above the number 4. So:

Different language

  1. If you are not logged in to the Chromebook, log in. (You may have to do this in another language.)
  2. Launch the Chrome browser and enter the following URL in the address field: chrome://settings/languages
  3. Select English.


All of the following changes can be done in a portion of setting that’s meant to be helpful. In fact, there may be a time and place where these do help a student use Chromebook. In most cases, however, these are pranks.

Unfortunately, reaching the accessibility options has gotten harder. Here is how to reach it:

  1. Click the status area, where your account picture appears, or press Alt + Shift + s.
  2. Click Settings Settings Icon - Grey “wheel-like” icon.
  3. At the bottom, click Show advanced settings.
  4. In the “Accessibility” section, check or uncheck the box to turn on or off any of these options (note: I have highlighted the ones that come up most):
  • Show accessibility options in the system menu: Adds the Accessibility menu item to your status area.
  • Show large mouse cursor: Makes the cursor bigger and easier to see.
  • Use high contrast mode: Inverts colors to make text easier to read. You can also turn this on by pressing Search + Shift + h.
  • Enable sticky keys: Holds down the accessibility shortcut keys (Shift, Search, Ctrl, Alt) so you don’t have to press them first every time.
  • Enable ChromeVox (spoken feedback): Describes what is happening on the screen.
  • Enable screen magnifier: Makes items on the screen bigger. Pan around to see them.
  • Enable tap dragging: To move objects on the screen, double-tap and drag your finger.
  • Automatically click when the mouse pointer stops: Click without pressing your mouse, touchpad, or other pointing device. You can also choose the length of the delay before clicking.
  • Enable on-screen keyboard: Shows an on-screen keyboard that can be clicked with a mouse (or tapped if you have a touch screen).
  • Play the same audio through all speakers: Play all sounds together (mono sound) rather than separately (stereo sound).
  • Highlight the text caret: See a colored circle that fades until the cursor reappears or moves.
  • Highlight the mouse cursor: See a colored circle around your cursor while it’s moving.
  • Highlight the object with keyboard focus: See a colored rectangle around an object.

Weird keyboard output

It is possible to change to a keyboard for another language (which will be subtly wrong) or an alternate keyboard like Dvorak (which will be incredibly wrong).

If you are in an unusual keyboard, you will see it on the settings panel. Instead of saying “US Keyboard,” it might say “US Dvorak keyboard” or “US Colemak keyboard.” Just click there and choose “US Keyboard” (the first in the list).


From the main panel, click on “Accessibility,” and you will find these options. You toggle them on or off by clicking on them. They are:

ChromeVox, aka “why is the Chromebook saying everything?”

This will read aloud all the screen interactions.

Large mouse cursor

You have to admit, it’s kind of funny. It reminds me of the giant wooden spoons people used to hang on kitchen walls. High contrast mode, aka “everything looks like a photo negative” Apparently this can also be turned on while the secure browser for testing is running. In that case, use this shortcut:

shift + 🔍 + h

Screen Magnifier

If people are saying the screen is “zoomed in,” that could mean a few different things: All the elements are large, or just the type is large, or we have a scrolling view as if looking in a magnifying glass. The different solutions are all here. On-screen keyboard This one is actually unobtrusive and, for one use, helpful. It puts a little button on the bottom bar of the screen:

When you click on that, a virtual keyboard opens on the screen. Here is the tiny feature of that keyboard that matters:

That tiny microphone icon lets you do voice dictation. Make of that what you will.

Anyway, you make the on-screen keyboard disappear by clicking the keyboard-down button in the lower right. And you can turn it off altogether in the Accessibility section:

More resources Here is the full list of Chromebook keyboard shortcuts:

kb/chromebook-tricks.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/21 11:50 by

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