Okay, so you just got a brand new Chromebook and you’re looking for instructions on how to do one of the most basic things- right-clicking.
Don’t be ashamed.
On a traditional desktop computer, you simply use your mouse to left-click, right-click and middle mouse scroll or click. In fact, I’m assuming you came from a desktop environment if you’re reading this.
New to these little devices? Check out why they’re awesome compared to Windows.
On a laptop, you obviously don’t any way to use the device without mastering the touchpad (unless you bought a mouse for your Chromebook). So you need to learn how to use it.
The trackpad itself is a pretty cool device, and it does more than just right-click. You can also perform a variety of other gestures, such as the following:
- Scroll down and up on a page
- Go back and forth between pages and websites
- Click with your “middle mouse button”
- Show all open applications
- Switch between tabs
So, in this post, we’ll cover all of these gestures and your original question- “how do I right-click on a Chromebook?”
Sound good? Let’s get started.
Last updated: 5/15/17. I’ll update this to keep it up to date so you get the most accurate information on the entire web. (At least, I’d like to think so =].)
The many touchpad gestures, tips, and trick
First, let’s learn how to master your laptop’s touchpad.
Your trackpad, by default, is tap-to-click. This means you don’t have to actually “press” down on the touchpad to click. You can simply lightly tap on it to perform the same function. This design saves you energy and makes clicking a lot faster.
The touchpads are built in such a way that the top-half does nothing (or is really hard to click). The lower-half actually clicks and is sensitive to your fingers.
If you press down on the lower half of your trackpad, you’ll notice it clicks and even gives a feedback sound. It’s the most natural way of your device telling you that you’ve registered a click. It works.
If you’re a Mac user, you’ll probably be trying to click on the right-hand side of it thinking that it’ll right-click. It won’t.
On Chrome OS, right and middle clicking work differently.
How to use the trackpad (or a basic perform a left-click)
First, you need to know how to perform a basic left-click. I’m pretty sure you already know how to do this one.
Simply tap on the touchpad with a single finger and your laptop will register it as a left-click.
You’ll use this do pretty much everything on your laptop, but then again, it’s really just left-clicking. It’s the most basic action you could do.
Now we can move on and learn some more advanced tips and tricks…
If you’re using a mouse, it’s self-explanatory.
How to right-click
There are just two simple ways to accomplish this. There’s an easy way and an advanced way.
Let’s go over both.
This is the most popular way of clicking and is also the most intuitive, as Windows laptops utilize this method. If you’ve used a Windows laptop before, you’ll already feel at home.
Simply tap the touchpad with two fingers. This will open up the menu (options), or perform a right-click on your cursor’s location wherever it is on the screen.
When the menu opens up, you can left-click on any option you want.
Want to become a super laptop ninja? See the full guide to mastering your Chromebook.
This method is slightly more complex, but it’s perfect for those who have handicaps or can’t physically press the trackpad with both fingers simultaneously.
All you need to do is simply press “Alt” and tap the touchpad once. Your laptop will register it as a right-click and bring up the options so you can do exactly the same set of actions as a double tap right-click.
So, what does this do?
You can use this function to:
- Open up additional options for images
- Save images from the Internet
- Change your wallpaper
- Copy, paste or cut text, images, and other media
- Show more options for your tabs
- Close or open apps by clicking on them on the shelf (taskbar)
- Move the location of the shelf
- Remove apps from your App Launcher
- Inspect elements on your Chrome browser
It’s pretty much the “show options” button. But instead of pressing a virtual button on your screen, you’re using your trackpad. You can right-click on almost anything to see what else you can do with it.
How to middle-click
Middle-clicking is something that’s a lot less common than left or right clicks. If you’ve used a mouse with a mouse wheel, you’ve probably used the middle click a few times, but never really got used to it.
Personally, I never use the middle mouse button on my desktop nor my laptop. I just don’t find it that useful.
However, that doesn’t go the same for everyone. For you, you may be yelling at me right now to start using it because of the conveniences it offers.
If you’re a middle mouse button user, you’ll be happy to hear that you can middle-click.
(Just like right-clicking, you can use two different methods to achieve this.)
Simply tap on the touchpad with three fingers.
This will register as a middle-click on your laptop and it’ll bring up a menu with options. It’s a little harder to master and not as intuitive as most other gestures, but if you’re a fan of the middle-click menu, you’ll be glad to use it.
Press the “Ctrl” key and touch the trackpad with a single finger.
This will register as a middle-click.
Middle-clicking is mainly used for tab control.
- If you middle-click on a link, it’ll open in the background.
- If you middle-click on a tab, it’ll close it.
That’s pretty much it. That’s why I don’t use it much. It doesn’t do much for me. Maybe for you, it’s a different story.
It’s good for browsing with many tabs open and saves a step. Instead of having to take two steps to close or open a tab, you can simply middle-click and perform the same action in a single take.
So now that we’ve covered how to middle-click and right-click, let’s go over some of the other things you can do with it.
Scroll up and down on a page
No single model out there has a mouse included, so you’ll want to learn how to do this gesture.
It’ll work exactly the same as scrolling up and down on your mouse wheel so you can read and scroll through pages easily without needing to drag the page slider (you know, that thing on the right-hand side of the screen- a scrollbar?) down and up as you read the content of the page.
You can simply use two fingers to swipe up or down on the touchpad to mimic a mouse wheel. This allows for easy scrolling just like on a smartphone.
Quickly go back and forth between pages
This is very useful if you’re browsing the ‘net with Chrome browser. You’ll find yourself using this very often to navigate the Internet.
Simply swipe left or right on the trackpad with two fingers to navigate back and forth to your last visited page, or your next page that you’ve previously visited. It sounds confusing but you know what I mean.
Show all open apps
Swipe down with three fingers to have your browser “zoom out” and show all open apps in a way that’s similar to how Mac does it. You’ll see multiple windows of all your apps and you’ll be allowed to click on whichever one you want to switch to.
This is extremely useful if you’re a multitasker and have a lot of stuff running at the same time.
Are you a student? Want a list of the best apps for your laptop to make those classes super easy? Check out this handy list.
Switch between open tabs in the Chrome browser
This one is a gesture I found very useful and is probably one that I use the most, along with back and forth page navigation.
If you swipe left or right with three fingers on it, you’ll scroll between all your open tabs in the browser. This is very useful and fast compared to moving up to the tab bar with your fingers, position the cursor, and clicking on the tab you want.
You should definitely master this gesture as it’ll save you tons of time.
Congrats. You’re now a trackpad gesture master…
Well, that’s about it. If you’ve made it this far, you should be a touchpad master after some practice.
You should now know how to right-click on your Chromebook, middle-click, scroll up and down, show your tabs, show your apps, and scroll through your tabs. You now have the knowledge to fly through your windows with ease and click like a madperson.
Go ahead and try these out. If you have any other tips, let me know in the comments.