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How to Right Click on Chromebook (And Other Touchpad Gestures)


Master Chromebook Gestures

Chromebooks don’t have separate left and right buttons on the trackpad, leaving some new owners confused as how to right click on a Chromebook. 

The answer may seem obvious, even natural, to many.

But new owners are sometimes left stumped having become used to the way their Windows laptop or netbook did it.

So if you’re wondering how to right click or middle click on a Chromebook, this article is here to help.

Touchpad Basics

Chrome OS enables “tap-to-click” by default. This means you don’t need to physically press down anywhere on the touchpad to, well, click.

The lower half of most Chromebook touchpads are still a pressable button, though. You get feedback, you hear a click, it feels natural.

But as on Apple Mac laptops “clicking” in the lower right-hand side of the touchpad does not create a ‘right-click’ response. In fact, it doesn’t matter where you click on the touchpad you’ll still be clicking normally.

Tap-to-click is used in Chrome OS to perform regular right click and middle click actions.

Double Tap Chromebook

Right Click

How To Right Click on a Chromebook

There are two ways to right click on a Chromebook using the touchpad, neither of which require you to pair a bluetooth pointer or plug in a USB mouse to do it.

The first of this is the simplest: tap once on the touchpad using two fingers. This will open the right-click menu wherever you are.

On the ‘desktop’ the right-click context menu offers options to change the wallpaper and move the shelf to a different location; on web-pages it shows actions like copy, paste, etc. Right-clicking on an app tile in the App Launcher divvies up options to remove apps, view more info and pin them to the app shelf.

The other, less popular method, is useful if you can’t quite master the double-tap. 

Press the Alt key and single tap (or physically click) on the touchpad at the same time to open the right-click context menu.


Middle Click

How to Middle Click on a Chromebook

If you’ve ever used a mouse with a clickable scroll-wheel you’ll know how useful ‘middle click’ actions are.

In Chrome OS middle-click can do a number of things, depending on what is being clicked on. The two most common uses are:

  • Middle click on a link to open it in a background tab
  • Middle click on an open tab to close it

Chromebook middle click is done using a three finger tap on your trackpad.

Three fingers tapped on the touchpad at the same time can take some to master. If you cant quite get to grips — should that be tips? — with the middle click gestures you can also hold the Ctrl key and click on a link to have it open in a new background tab.

Scrolling on a Chromebook


Bonus: How to Scroll on a Chromebook

Chances are you’ve already figured this one out by yourself, but we’ll recap it for completions sake anyhow.

To scroll a webpage on a Chromebook you need to place two fingers on the touchpad then move them up or down (depending on your desired scroll direction) to make the page travel.

You can enable so-called ‘Australian Scrolling’, where pushing two fingers up the trackpad makes the page move up by changing the option in Settings > Touchpad and Mouse > Scrolling.

Easy when you know how, right? 

  • Basically, if you used a Mac, you’re right at home. Using Windows laptops for me now is just a painful experience, given how shoddy the trackpad experience generally is!

    • jdloft

      Especially Dell. *shudder*

    • Noah Vaillancourt

      Ya that’s why I think USB mouses are very much superior

    • I cam from MacBook Air to the Pixel II and its awesome. Most gestures are the same! Loving my Chromebook, but my Discover Card is asking for it’s $1K back pretty soon :/

  • Тарас Мукин

    Well… All of them as obvious as they could be, no?

  • jdloft

    Re: “double tap on the touchpad”
    For me double tapping just opens the right click menu twice. I usually just tap one.

  • jvibe

    It would also be worth mentioning here that three-finger side scroll moves you through tabs. I agree with other commenters – it’s hard to go back to Windows after using Chrome . . .

    • Nice tip — I didn’t know about that one!

      • Oliver Black

        Also the 3 finger up and down to open and close ‘overview’ and the capability to two finger swipe sideways to go back and forward

  • Adrian Esdaile

    I’m Australian, but I find ‘Australian’ scrolling non-intuitive & confusing. Maybe that appeals to the average ‘Austfailian’ but it doesn’t appeal to me.

    • Peter Smyth

      The Australian scrolling is intuitive on a touchscreen (the only way of scrolling on a touchscreen), so I guess it was added to make the trackpad function more like a touchscreen.

      • Adrian Esdaile

        To be honest it’s a bit offensive; it’s playing on the whole ‘people walk upside down in Australia’ stereotype that I thought we got rid of last century. I’m pretty sure Americans would be offended if we kept referring to poor quality, weak beer as ‘American’ beer – based on the old stereotype that all American beers are awful (they aren’t – the correct term for poor quality, weak beer is ‘Fosters’ :-)

        • Peter Smyth

          I wouldn’t find it offensive, it’s not saying anything bad ally Australians, but I’m not Australian.

    • Jeremy Newton

      Indeed, I dislike the “natural scrolling” aka the “Australian scrolling” and always use the traditional.

      I’m not sure why they don’t call it natural scrolling though, as chrome seems to be the only one that prefers the obscure name.

      • Adrian Esdaile

        It would be nice if they changed it. As I explain below, it would be preferable if Google would NOT use such a pejorative name.

  • Andy Valdez

    if you put three fingers on the touchpad and swipe left or right you can switch between tabs

    • darioshanghai

      And if you swipe two fingers left and right, you can go back and forth into a tab’s history

  • Rum Pocky

    “right click” happens when I click normally sometimes. With every click, the right click options appears and wont allow me to simpy click. I usually have to shut it down. How do I make it stop when it happens?

  • Andrew Raia

    For me the double click even with alt is requiring me to double tap, its really annoying :(

  • bria

    how do you save something on it without the left click button

    • Paw Paw

      right click and save as?

  • Paw Paw

    I just had my CB to sleep a bit after allowing a recharge a few hours and getting a green the dang thang still would not come on. only after double tapping the on off button did the thing turn back on. Whats the proper way to turn the thang on? anybody know? I got it for cheap on ebay but dont know much about it.