Hotkeys can become an essential part of a user’s productivity. When all the actions you want to perform are mapped to key combinations, it becomes a lot faster to open windows, execute tasks, and search for what you need. Google Chrome’s extensions have always been a great source to boost your productivity, featuring easy shortcuts and features to perform basic tasks. Even better, if the extension supports it, you can set up custom hotkeys related to performing basic features within that extension.
Accessing the Hotkeys
One of the best parts of setting up the hotkeys in Chrome is that you don’t have to go through the settings of each individual extension to do so. Instead, we’re going to be using Google Chrome’s special extension hotkey list. This allows us to browse every single action we can assign hotkeys to via extensions, as well as creating said hotkeys.
To view the extension hotkey manager, find the three dots at the top right of the Chrome window and click it. In the drop-down that appears, select “More tools” and then “Extensions.”
The extensions window will appear. This is the general hub for when you want to edit, turn off, or remove any extensions you have installed. You can change individual options for extensions by clicking the “Options” text underneath it, which may include hotkey functionality. However, if you want an easier way to set up hotkeys, scroll all the way to the bottom of this page. You’ll find a text link on the right that says “Keyboard shortcuts.” Click this.
A new window will pop up. This window will list all the apps and extensions that support hotkeys. Find the extension you’d like to set up a hotkey for, then find the feature you’d like to assign it to. For example, if we wanted to make a hotkey for composing an email in the extension Checker Plus, we can do so by going to Checker Plus’ hotkey list and finding the option for “Compose.”
I Can’t Find My Extension!
If you had an extension in mind that you wanted to set hotkeys for, but it doesn’t appear on the list, there’s a chance the developer hasn’t added support for it yet. Check within the app’s settings to see if there’s an option for hotkeys there. If not, try to get in contact with the app developer and let them know you’d love keyboard shortcuts for your extension as well as what you’d like a hotkey for.
Setting the Hotkeys
To create a hotkey for a specific function, click in the box that says “Not set” and manually press the keys you want to use as a hotkey. Note that, at the time of writing, Chrome only supports two-key combinations. The first key has to be either the “Ctrl” or “Alt” key. If we want to set the hotkey “Ctrl + N” to compose a new mail, click in the box, hold “Ctrl” and press N.
Attentive users of Chrome will notice that “Ctrl + N” is already a Chrome hotkey; it opens up a new window. In this case, the custom hotkey you set will override the default one. “Ctrl + N” will no longer open a new window but will instead open Checker Plus’ compose window.
If you poke around the extension hotkey window, you may notice that a drop-down box sometimes “lights up” when you set a hotkey. This drop-down has two options; “In Chrome” or “Global.” If you set the hotkey to “Global,” this means you no longer have to be within the window in order to trigger the hotkey. You can be in a different application altogether and still be able to activate it!
However, it’s good to realise that Chrome has to be open and running somewhere on your computer for this to work. Pressing the hotkey while Chrome is fully closed won’t trigger the extension. However, as long as Chrome is running (even if it’s minimised onto the taskbar), the hotkey should work. Even better, it appears to override overlapping hotkeys with other software, so you don’t have to worry about your custom hotkeys causing havoc in other applications.
Hotkeys can help speed up a user’s workflow. With a few tweaks, you can set up hotkeys for your Chrome extensions and even access them if Chrome isn’t your current active window.
How often do you use hotkeys while using computers for fun or work? Let us know below!