9 Tips to Use and Customize Chromebook Shelf

Customize Shelf Chromebook Laura Featured

Unlike when using laptops, you cannot add apps to the desktop on a Chromebook. If you want to access an app, file, or web page quickly, you must pin it to the Chromebook’s Shelf. We show you how to use and customize the Chromebook Shelf in this guide.

What Is the Chromebook Shelf?

The Shelf on a Chromebook is the row at the bottom of the screen that is similar to the taskbar in Windows. It contains the pinned and opened apps, the launcher icon, and other important icons, such as the battery, time, accessibility settings, Tote, and more.

Chromebook Shelf Meaning

Customize Your Chromebook Shelf

Now that you know the meaning of Shelf in Chromebook, let’s go over some tips on how to best use it.

1. Add Apps to Shelf

There are three ways to add or pin apps to a Chromebook’s Shelf, as follows:

1. From the Launcher

  1. Click on the Launcher icon in the bottom-left corner of the screen and hit the Up arrow to open the launcher.
Chromebook Shelf Add Apps Launcher Open
  1. Look for the app you want to pin to the Shelf.
  2. Right-click on the app icon and select “Pin to Shelf” from the menu.
Chromebook Shelf Add Apps Launcher

Tip: to right-click on a Chromebook, tap two fingers on the touchpad.

2. Drag from Shelf

Open Chromebook’s Launcher to view the list of the installed apps, then drag the desired app from the Launcher to the Shelf to pin it.

If the drag method doesn’t work for you, go to “Settings → Device → Touchpad” on your Chromebook. Turn on the toggle next to “Enable tap dragging.”

Chromebook Shelf Enable Tap Drag

3. From Shelf

Open the app you want to pin to the Shelf. When the app icon appears on the Shelf, right-click on it and select “Pin.”

Chromebook Shelf Add Apps From Taskbar

2. Add Websites to Shelf

Just like apps, you can pin websites to the Shelf as shown below.

  1. Open the web page to be saved in Chrome.
  2. Click on the three-dot icon in the top-right corner of Chrome and select “More tools → Create shortcut.”
Chromebook Shelf Add Website More Tools
  1. The “Create shortcut” pop-up window will show up. Check the box next to “Open as window” and hit the “Create” button.
Chromebook Shelf Add Website Create Shortcut
  1. The website will open in a new window, and its icon will appear in the Shelf. Right-click on the icon and select “Pin.”
Chromebook Shelf Add Website Pin

Alternatively, right-click on the website icon in the Launcher and select “Pin to shelf.”

Chromebook Shelf Add Website Pin Launcher

3. Remove Items from Shelf

If you decide you don’t want an app or website to occupy the real estate on the shelf, you can remove it.

  1. Right-click on the desired icon on the Shelf and select “Unpin.”
Chromebook Shelf Remove Apps
  1. Alternatively, right-click on the pinned icon in the Chromebook Launcher and choose “Unpin from Shelf.”
Chromebook Shelf Remove Apps Launcher

Note: you cannot remove Chrome from the Shelf.

4. Open Pinned Items in Shelf Using a Keyboard Shortcut

Generally, you just need to click on the app icon on the Shelf to open it. But you can also use a keyboard shortcut to quickly open pinned items. For that, hold the Alt key and press the number key that corresponds to the pinned item on the Shelf. For instance, Alt + 1 will open the first pinned item, Alt + 2 opens the second item, and so on.

5. Pin Files to Shelf

Interestingly, you can pin files like images, videos, PDFs, etc., to the Shelf and open them quickly whenever required. While they will not appear as icons on the Shelf, you will find them under Tote, which is a storage space for recent files right next to the Quick settings.

Chromebook Shelf Tote
  1. The Tote can be identified by one to three circles, which show a preview of recent screenshots or downloads. Tap or click on the circles to expand the Tote and see pinned files, screenshots, and downloads.
  2. To pin any recent file in the Tote, hover your mouse pointer over the file and click on the Pin icon. The file will appear under the Pinned files section.
Chromebook Shelf Tote Pin Recent File
  1. To pin an old file from the Downloads folder, open the “My files” app from the Launcher and locate the desired file. Right-click on it and select “Pin to shelf.”
Chromebook Shelf Tote Pin Old File

6. Reorder Apps in Shelf

By default, the items will show up on the Shelf in the order that they were added to it. Fortunately, you can reorder them to suit your needs.

For that, hold the app that you want to move by long-pressing with your mouse or finger (for touch screen devices) and drag it to the new position on the Shelf.

7. Change Shelf Position

The native position of the shelf is at the bottom; however, you can move it to the left or right edge of the screen.

  1. Right-click on an empty space in the Shelf (or on the desktop) and select “Shelf position.”
  2. Pick “Left” or “Right” from the sub-menu.
Chromebook Shelf Change Position

8. Hide Shelf

Chrome OS includes an auto-hide feature that keeps the Shelf hidden when not in use. Hovering over the invisible shelf area will bring it back.

To hide the Shelf, right-click on an empty area in it and select “Autohide shelf.”

Chromebook Shelf Autohide

9. Open Launcher Using Gesture from Shelf

To quickly open the launcher from the Shelf, bring the mouse pointer over the Shelf and swipe up on your trackpad using two fingers. The search panel will open. Swipe up again on the trackpad using two fingers to finally open the launcher.

Get to Know Your Chromebook

If you want to know more about using a Chromebook, find out how to enable split-screen mode and screen record on Chromebook. Also, check out the best games to play on Chromebook.

Mehvish Mushtaq
Mehvish Mushtaq

Mehvish is a tech lover from Kashmir. With a degree in computer engineering, she's always been happy to help anyone who finds technology challenging. She's been writing about technology for over six years, and her favorite topics include how-to guides, explainers, tips and tricks for Android, iOS/iPadOS, Windows, social media, and web apps.

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