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Keyboard Auto-Correct Coming to Chrome OS — Helpful Addition Or Potential Annoyance?


Auto-correct in Chrome OS Dev (image: Beaufort)

Imagine having to type more than 140 characters on your smartphone or tablet without auto-correct. It’d be a fiddly, typo-prone affair, right? But would a similar feature make sense on a device with a regular, full-sized keyboard? Chrome OS developers think so.

As a fast but inaccurate typist I find auto-correct to be a definite boon. My copy editor not so much. OS X (Mavericks and up) ships with auto-correct enabled on the desktop by default. It’s a feature I (perhaps) over rely on.

I hammer away in blissful faith, assuming that every crime against spelling that my ill-targeted digits commit will be instantly righted by the computer’s logical brain and read as I intended.

Wrong. Most of my copy has, somewhere, a couple of mangled sentences, a combination of my thumping fingers and an overzealous digital dictionary with a mind of its own. Any article on Wanderlust…Wonder Lost…er, Wunderlist is a good case in point!

Experimental Feature

Now this boon/bane is targeting Chromebooks. A  flag to enable experimental “physical keyboard auto-correction” has been introduced in development builds of Chrome OS (technically it’s been there a while, just hasn’t done anything when enabled).

Googler François Beaufort highlighted the feature just before Christmas, noting — importantly — that it currently only works for en_US languages, not en_GB — my layout.

While Chrome OS allows you to set up multiple keyboard language layouts, and switch between them easily, forcing the language still (for now) appears to do nothing. As such I can’t attest to how well or seamless this feature works nor offer up any screenshots of videos of it in action. Sad times!

Try Chromebook Auto-Correct

But if you’re in the US and want to try it out you can. First flip the following to ‘enabled’. Restart Chrome when prompted.


Now open a Chrome App like Wunderlist and misspell a word – e.g., “chrme” or “cofee”. Chrome should offer suggestions for the correct term. Press the Down arrow key at the last selection in the pop-over to view more suggestions.

Annoying or genius new feature? That’s for you to deer cider.

Err, ‘decide’.

  • Vin

    Keyboard corrections I would like; Caps Lock; especially with Google Docs. Arrow keys equal sized with bigger footprint.

    • The small up and down arrow keys bug me too on my Acer C720. Oddly enough, I don’t miss caps lock.

    • Jonathan

      There already IS a caps lock. It’s called alt + search.

      • Vin

        I’ll try that, thanks.

      • Zactu

        That search key is useless for me, waste of space. I don’t know if others use it, but I think caps lock would be better, or something more useful.

        • The search key is one of my favourite things about the chromebook, the number of times I need caps lock vs. how much I use search means there is no contest.

          I use it for everything from launching apps without touching the trackpad, opening a new google doc (I have the new document link bookmarked) doing quick calculator problems and of course launching a new search.

        • Phil Oakley

          You can change it in keyboard settings.

  • I would love this. it saves having to right click on the underlined word and then clicking the correction.

  • Jason

    Is this a universal feature across the entire OS? I really just need this for Google Docs (I can’t believe that this still doesn’t exist for Docs other than the Preferences workaround/hack) , but wouldn’t mind being able to enable/disable it in other parts of the OS. E.g., it might be annoying for omnibox since I might be typing a URL.

  • Droid6

    This would be helpful for students. So yes

  • I tried enabling but got no results. Tried several applications after restarting the machine. Anyone able to get it to work?

    • Phil Oakley

      You’re on en_US?

  • Andrew Emerson

    I’m all for more features not less but I am also for a DELETE KEY! It is beyond reason not to have a delete key on any computer.

    • use alt + backspace

      • Andrew Emerson

        THAT IS NOT A DELETE KEY. That does not work when you are trying to tidy up your files on google drive. The chromebook needs a delete key.

        • Trenton Matthews

          For Google Drive offline, alt-backspace works just fine. For Google Drive online, use “x” to select a file, then press “shift-3,” (as in “shift-d” on a phone..)
          Press “question-mark” to see all keyboard shortcuts.

        • João Victor Schiavo

          Macs also doesn’t have delete keys. Actually, its delete key is a back space.

        • Zactu

          Agree. The power switch could moved off the keyboard and replaced with a delete key. This will also make cleaning the keyboard easier without the power key accidently pressed.

          • Tom Z

            It would be cool if you could re-assign the power button into a delete key. I wonder if that’s possible.

  • moe

    there will be a lot of literate chrome os users. good feature i like it.

  • Keith Simpson

    like the auto-correct feature but this would only be helpful for me if it has the capacity to add new words and/or learn how I choose to phrase things – particularly when dealing with personal emails that tends to use a lot of slang or traditional Scottish words

  • How about auto-correct grammar?

    • “…auto-corrected grammar…” Or “…grammar auto-correct…”

  • Kris Kalifornia

    You have a copy editor?

    • pmug

      lol, I was thinking the same thing.

    • Sure do. Due to time-zone differences (I’m in the UK, he’s in San Fran, US) posts often have to go out before they’re proofed (the nature of online publishing is if you’re too slow, you’re a no-go).

  • ParacogSteadham

    Might be useful for my touchscreen Acer when I’m in bed.

  • MrJazz

    Keep it on the software side.

  • Correct me chrome, 4 life !!!!

  • Chris

    If Chrome has a good an autocorrect as the Google Keyboard on Android, I would be in love. Seriously, this is my biggest hindrance.

  • Rik Boland

    Auto Correct a delete key and torrent app and then my chrome life be awesome!