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One of the right-click gestures on Chrome OS may be changing soon

In any given day, the amount of times that I’ll need to right-click something numbers in the dozens. This is especially true now that Chrome OS has picked up Linux apps support. And yet, some people are unhappy with one of the ways we can right-click on Chrome OS, and Google may be changing it soon.

Long time macOS are likely all too familiar with the idea of using a keyboard key to perform a right-click, holding Ctrl when clicking to do so. In a similar way, holding Alt when you click on Chrome OS makes it a right-click.

Unfortunately, however, some web apps, including Google Sheets and Figma, need to make use of Alt+Click to do certain tasks. With Chrome OS always turning Alt+Click into a right-click, these web apps were relatively unusable on Chrome OS.

Google’s been aware of this problem since 2013, and even tried to fix it back in 2015 by altogether switching Chrome OS’s right-click gesture from using Alt+Click to Search+Click. At the time, however, many members of the Chrome OS community found bugs with the change and pushed back against it.

It seems Google is looking to start the Search+Click conversation again, but they’re taking a slower approach, according to a set of commits posted to the Chromium Gerrit. Instead of immediately switching everyone over to the new gesture, they’re doing the work behind a new flag.

Enable Right-Click Remapping Transition

When enabled both Alt-Click and Search-Click will be remapped to right-click on touch devices and a deprecation notification will be displayed when Alt-Click is used.

This isn’t the first time Google has changed a gesture on Chrome OS. For a number of years, the shortcut to access the Chrome OS Task Manager was Shift+Esc, but in the last year this was changed over to Search+Esc.

Chrome OS shortcut change

The old Shift+Esc shortcut for Task Manager still works, but Chrome OS now shows a notice that you should really be using the new gesture. Following that pattern, using the old Alt+Click gesture will still successfully right-click, but you’ll receive a notification of the change.

The work on the new right-click gesture is still ongoing, so we’re not likely to see it arrive, even behind the flag, until Chrome OS version 76 or 77.

The other ways of right-clicking on Chrome OS—a two-finger tap on the touchpad, long-press on the touchscreen, and a traditional mouse with right-click—will not be affected by these changes.

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Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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