Chrome Highlights Keyboard Shortcuts If You Use The Keyboard

Chrome Highlights Keyboard Shortcuts If You Use The Keyboard

File this under probably-been-there-all-along-but-I’ve-only-just noticed: Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t adopt a standard Windows interface when it comes to keyboard accelerators, but does show you how to perform some tasks on the keyboard if you ask it in the right way.

If you click on Chrome’s wrench menu or right-click selections in Windows, you’ll see a list of options but accelerator letters to access them to won’t be underlined (as they are, for example, in Firefox). In other words, you can hit G after clicking on the wrench menu to access ‘About Google Chrome’, but there’s no indication that it’s the relevant choice. Control-key shortcuts are listed in lighter text, but not for less common options.

Underlined accelerator letters are part of the standard Windows application interface, but not one that’s seen on other platforms; Macs, for instance, don’t do them.

It turns out that Chrome does show keyboard accelerator hints, but they only appear if you’ve already used a keyboard shortcut to access that menu (which in itself presupposes you know some shortcuts). If you type Alt-F to access the wrench, then you’ll see the menu options underlined. The same applies to right-clicking using the keyboard right-click key or Shift-F10, though this doesn’t seem to work on links or images.

Given Chrome’s commitment to stripping out interface elements, it’s no surprise the accelerator letters are so well buried. On the other hand, I can’t help thinking not displaying them by default means that no-one’s ever going to discover them, which isn’t ideal for enhancing productivity. But I’m pleased they do exist, as otherwise I’d have had to write an extension to implement them.


  • Clicking the wrench shows the underlined shortcuts for me.
    It may be due to the windows setting to not show keyboard shortcuts (which I always turn on).

    Currently there is a bug in the context menu for chrome where keyboard shortcuts don’t work (despite being displayed) if you have an extension installed that uses the context menu (i.e. Readbility, …)

    • One of the first things I do when I install Windows on a computer is enable underline for shortcuts. Took me a while to find where the option was when I first started using Windows 7, but it’s great.

  • I guess they figure if you click the wrench you might as well click the menu item too. Whereas if you press Alt+F to get the wrench you wouldn’t want to follow that up with mouse interaction.

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