An essential guide to Google Chrome’s most useful shortcuts

Five minutes can save you 5% or more of your internet time.
Five minutes can save you 5% or more of your internet time.
Image: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
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Google released its Chrome browser 11 years ago, and now almost two-thirds of desktop and mobile users rely on it to surf the web. While its clean interface and extensions make the browser a crowd favorite, what really unleashes Chrome’s power is far simpler: keyboard shortcuts.

From refreshing a tab (Cmd + R) to opening your homepage (Cmd + Shift + H), clever shortcuts abound in Google Chrome. The command key, or ⌘, is your friend here. Some are more obscure, like accessing the Bookmark Manager (Cmd + Option + B) or clearing browsing data (Cmd + Shift + Delete). But it seems there’s always a faster way to get things done.

Whether you’re a complete amateur or a grizzled internet veteran, here are a few Chrome tricks you absolutely should know:

Jump to a specific tab

Tired: Clicking on tabs | Inspired: Cmd + 1 through Cmd + 8

As I’m writing this article, I have six tabs open. In addition to this document, I’m glancing at Twitter, replying the occasional email, and listening to John Coltrane on YouTube. Rather than use my MacBook’s touchpad to click between tabs, I use keyboard shortcuts. Open up a few websites and give it a shot.

You don’t have to move your hands as much. Since I rely on the keyboard alone, I return my hands to typing position exactly 1.2 seconds faster. (Yes, I actually timed this.) The real benefit arrives when you rapidly switch between tabs. Then, the seconds start to add up.

This shortcut works best with eight or fewer tabs. That’s because by default Cmd + 9 switches to the farthest-right tab (no matter how many you have open).

On Windows: Ctrl + 1 through Ctrl + 8

Reopen a closed tab

Tired: Digging through search history | Inspired: Cmd + Shift + T

When you’re zipping around the web, it’s dreadfully frustrating to close a tab by mistake. Instead of painstakingly perusing your search history (rather like rooting around in the garbage bin), you can revive tabs with an easy keyboard shortcut.

Best of all, you can do this multiple times, reopening tabs in order of recency.

On Windows: Ctrl + Shift + T

Honorable mention: Warn before quitting

Tired: Mistakenly closing Chrome | Inspired: A session-saving alert

Give yourself a chance.
Give yourself a chance.
Image: Google Chrome

Okay, this isn’t a keyboard shortcut per se, but this setting makes it harder to accidentally quit Chrome when closing a tab (Cmd + W). If your finger slips to Cmd + Q (quit), the browser will flash a prompt: “Hold ⌘Q to quit.” If that’s your intention, go right ahead. But if you only meant to close a tab, you’ll escape unscathed.

Close all other tabs

Tired: Mashing Cmd + W | Inspired: Custom keyboard shortcut

Unfortunately, my favorite shortcut—close everything except my current tab—recently disappeared from Chrome’s default settings. The feature was removed to declutter the browser, Bleeping Computer reported.

Luckily, however, I’ve found a workaround thanks to an extension called “Keyboard shortcuts to close Chrome tabs.” (Creative, no?)

After adding the extension to Chrome, navigate to chrome://extensions/shortcuts. There, you can configure your shortcut. I use the custom keyboard shortcut (Cmd + Shift + O) to close my other tabs. I find this helps me to focus—and ironically, to “declutter” the browser when I’ve opened too many tabs. This shortcut is way better than  clicking “x” on each tab individually.

Pro tip: Remember, if you mistakenly close a tab you needed, you can use Cmd + Shift + T to retrieve it.

Bookmark this page

Tired: Clicking the bookmark star | Inspired: Cmd + D

If you’ve found these tips helpful, you might want to bookmark them. But don’t you dare reach for the mouse. Simply press Cmd + D and tap enter. And voilà, the page will be saved on your bookmarks bar.

A full list of nifty Chrome shortcuts is available here.