On The Chromebook: Touchpad Gestures

The touchpad has expanded the range of options that users can have access to in order to manipulate, navigate, and exert power over how they interact with the content on their screen. I’m not saying that the days of the mouse are numbered, but there are many things that a touchpad interface allows the user to do.


  • To access the Touchpad settings on your Chromebook, click on your avatar in the bottom-right corner of the screen and from the pop-up menu click on the gear icon for ‘Settings.’
  • In Settings, scan down the list until you find the ‘Device’ heading (you can also use the built-in ‘Search settings’ tool and enter the keyword “touchpad”).
  • Use the slider provided to adjust the speed of your touchpad cursor.
  • Click on the ‘Touchpad settings’ button to access additional options.

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Touchpad Settings

  • From this menu, you can…
    • Enable tap-to-click: Your touchpad will interpret a tap as a left-click action, without the need to actually press down on the touchpad.
    • Choose between Traditional scrolling (swipe up to move up the page) or Australian scrolling (swipe up to move down the page). This is the same interface as is found on most mobile devices (i.e. tablets & smart phones).

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Touchpad Gestures


“Chromebook Trackpad Gestures – ICT TOOLKIT FOR TEACHERS.” 5 Nov. 2015, https://icttoolkit.com/2015/11/05/chromebook-trackpad-gestures/. Accessed 16 Nov. 2015.

  • CLICK: Select an item on the screen by pressing down with a single finger.
  • SCROLL: Instead of hunting for the scroll bar, use two fingers to scroll up and down a document, web page, or anything that is longer than your screen.
  • RIGHT CLICK: Two-fingers pressed down displays the right-click menu of possible options, depending on the item being selected.
  • SWIPE: Using two fingers, swipe left or right to move back or forward through your browsing history page by page.

Touchpad Gestures 3.0

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When you use three fingers to SWIPE left or right, the Chromebook will cycle through each of the tabs currently open in the active window.

When you SWIPE down with three fingers, the ChScreen Shot 2017-04-25 at 9.58.24 PMromebook will zoom out to reveal all of the different windows that are open. This includes multiple windows from the same app as well as windows from different applications. You can then select which window you would like to bring to the front by clicking on it. NOTE: The swipe direction is affected by the touchpad setting (i.e. traditional or Australian scrolling).



On The Chromebook: Chrome Extensions Management


Google Apps are standalone programs that can run on their own and can be accessed from the Launcher tool on the Chromebook. Chrome Extensions are add-ons that work exclusively inside of the Google Chrome app.

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1. Extensions are accessed from the top of the Chrome app window and to the right of the URL address bar.

  • Drag extensions to arrange them in any order you prefer.
  • If you need to make room to access more extensions, then place your cursor on the edge of the URL address bar, then drag to your left to shorten the bar and make more room for extensions.

2. To manage your Chrome extensions, use the “3 Oreos” button located in the top-right corner of the browser window to activate a drop-down menu, then click on ‘More tools’ -> ‘Extensions’ or type the following into the URL address bar: chrome://extensionsScreen Shot 2017-01-17 at 8.05.25 AM.png

  • Extensions are listed in alphabetical order
  • Clicking on ‘Details’ will display a pop-up window with info. about the Extension including overview, version, and what permissions it has to your account information. From here you can also access the Extension listing in the Chrome Web Store.
  • Some Extensions will show an ‘Options’ link to a window with additional customization and settings options.
  • Some Extensions can be disabled by removing the checkmark from the ‘Enabled’ box. Some Extensions cannot be disabled due to settings configured by the Google Admin.
  • Some Extensions can be removed entirely by clicking on the Trashcan icon to the right of the extension entry. If there is a pair of buildings icon instead of the trashcan for an extension, then this means it was installed by the Google Admin and cannot be removed.


3. You can add additional Extensions to your Chrome app from the Chrome Web Store (Note: there is an app for that in the All Apps menu).

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4. Click on the ‘Extensions’ category or use the Search field if you already have an extension in mind.Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 8.05.52 AM.png

5. Extensions with a green ribbon in the top-left corner of their icon have already been added to your account; those without a ribbon have not been added and are not yet available for use.

6. Google Admins may restrict access to the Chrome Web Store for specific groups of users. For example, in my organization staff may add any extension to their Chrome web browser, but students may only add extensions that have been pre-approved. If there is an extension that a teacher feels would be of an educational benefit to students then they may submit a request to open up access to the extension.

Gmail, Won’t You Be My Default Mail Client, Please?

Several years ago my school district transitioned to Google Apps for Education and Gmail became the handler of our email. After the move we encountered an issue where email links in Chrome were being handed off to the default email app on our laptops (in our case, Mac Mail) instead of Gmail. This was very frustrating for our users until we found a Chrome Extension, Mailto, to help redirect the email link requests.

Fast forward to today, and lo and behold there is an option built right into Chrome to ensure that Gmail is the default mail client for email links.

  1. Open your Chrome browser
  2. Navigate to mail.google.com or use the Gmail app from the navigation ‘waffle.’
  3. After the Gmail app has loaded, locate the omnibox (a.k.a. address bar) at the top of the Chrome browser window. Move down until you reach the far end of the bar and look for a pair of overlapping diamond icons.
  4. Click on the double diamonds to access a pop-up window containing the option to allow mail.google.com to open all email links. Select ‘Allow’ enable this feature.


If you use Google’s Inbox app, then you will need to go into the app Settings and disable the “Redirect Gmail to inbox.google.com” option under ‘Other’ then follow steps 2 through 4 from above. Afterward, navigate to inbox.google.com and then into Settings to re-enable the redirect option.


If for some reason you do not see the double diamonds icon in the address bar, then you can still access this option from the Settings panel in Chrome. The complete navigation tree to find this option is Settings -> Show advanced settings… -> Content settings button under Privacy -> Manage handlers button under Handlers. However, I think it’s easier to go up to the search box in the Settings panel and type in the keywords: manage | handlers and let Google show you the way there.


NOTE: This option does not make the Mailto Chrome extension obsolete. Rather, because it is an extension Google Admins can choose to deploy it to all of the users inside of their organization.

Customizing Google Chrome (Hangout Archive)

This is an archived video from a Google Hangout ‘On-Air’ session at GAFE Peak in York, Maine.


In this hands-on session you will learn how to make Google Chrome work for you so that the apps, tools, and resources are easily accessible when you need them. Some of the topics we will cover include bookmark management, accessing tabs from other devices, managing extensions, omnibox shortcuts, and accessing the power of Google Search with your voice. Bring your laptop, mobile device, or Chromebook to the party!

HowTo – Application Launcher For Google Drive Extension

This tutorial will show how to connect Google Drive with applications installed locally on your device via a Chrome extension. This configuration will enhance the Google Drive experience and improve Drive’s cloud storage services.

You will need 3 components installed in order to complete this setup:

  1. Switch to the NEW Google Drive
  2. Download the latest version of the Google Drive App (v1.18 or higher)
  3. Install the Application Launcher for Drive extension

For more information, please check out the Google Drive Blog.

HowTo – Update Google Chrome

These days it seems like web browsers are in a constant state of change due to updates being released in what seems like every other day. Each time there is a release, you are bombarded by all manner of pop-up windows and other types of notices telling you to update, update, update. Google Chrome, however, had the idea of allowing the user to set updates to happen automatically as they become available, and to take place behind the scenes.

Per request from one of my building principals, I have produced a screencast tutorial on how to look up what version of Chrome is currently installed on your device, how to update if needed from within the Chrome browser, and how to setup automatic updates.