We live in a time of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, all of which have changed the way we access and browse the web.
In fact, We Are Social and Hootsuite’s Digital in 2019 report shows that the average amount of Internet time that happens on mobile devices has grown steadily over the last few years, from 26% in 2014 to 48% in 2019.
This, however, doesn’t mean that desktop computers and their traditional keyboard and mouse setup are now obsolete – far from it, in fact.
The desktop-based web experience is very much alive and is most ideal for heavy browsing and researching.
And when it comes to desktop-based Internet browsers, Google Chrome is, hands down, the most popular browser by a mile, commanding a market share of 70%.
By comparison, the next most popular browser, Firefox, only accounts for 9.78% of the market.
To get the most out of your Google Chrome experience, here’s a list of the most useful Chrome shortcuts that will boost your productivity when browsing the Internet.
1. Go Incognito Mode
- On Windows: Ctrl + Shift + N
- On Mac: ⌘ + Shift + N
Incognito Mode is for those times when you want to browse privately and don’t want other people using the computer to see your browsing history – think family computers or shared workstations.
This mode blocks Chrome from saving cookies, temporary Internet files that contain your IP address, login details, and other browsing information.
One scenario that Incognito Mode is useful is when you want to get around paywalls on sites like the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and the New York Times – sites that have a 10-article limit.
Going incognito usually lets you read for free, especially if you click on a link from a social media site.
2. Open Last Closed Tab
- On Windows: Ctrl + Shift + T
- On Mac: ⌘ + Shift + T
This shortcut is probably one that will get the most mileage for you on this list.
This shortcut basically lets you open the last browser tab you closed – great for those times when you accidentally closed a tab or you go through the last series of tabs you closed.
You can perform this function until the first tab you closed since running Chrome.
NOTE: This feature does not work in Incognito Mode, so take care when closing tabs in that mode.
3. Close the Active Right Away
- On Windows: Ctrl + W
- On Mac: ⌘ + W
While you can always click on the tiny X to close individual tabs on Chrome, why do that when you can simply press Ctrl + W instead?
This Chrome shortcut instantly closes the tab that’s current open (i.e. the one you’re currently seeing on your screen).
And remember, if you close a tab by accident, you can always press Ctrl + Shift + T to bring it back.
4. Jump Between Next & Previous Tabs
- On Windows: Ctrl + PgDn (Next open tab) or Ctrl + PgUp (Previous open tab)
- On Mac: ⌘ + Option + Right arrow (Next open tab) and ⌘ + Option + Left arrow (Previous open tab)
Does the image above look familiar?
If you have a habit of opening multiple tabs when browsing the Internet, it can be frustrating to have to use your mouse partner to click on every other tab and see what’s on it.
Instead, you can simply move to the next and previous open tab by holding Ctrl + PgDn or Ctrl + PgUp.
5. Minimize the Active Window
- On Windows: Ctrl + M
- On Mac: ⌘ + M
If for some reason, you’re someone who opens multiple windows instead of tabs, you can minimize open windows right away by pressing Ctrl + M.
This is useful if you have stacks of browser windows on top of the other.
6. Open Your Downloads Page
- On Windows: Ctrl + J
- On Mac: ⌘ + Option + L
Need to see what files you downloaded using Chrome?
This shortcut brings up your download window and lets you access downloaded files through the browser rather than look for it using File Explorer on Windows or Finder on Mac.
7. Open Bookmarks Manager
- On Windows: Ctrl + B
- On Mac: ⌘ + Option + B
Use this shortcut to open Bookmarks Manager on Chrome, which will allow you to open and delete individual bookmarks, create bookmark folders, and move bookmarks into different folders.
This shortcut is particularly useful for users who keep hundreds of bookmarks for work, school, or just life in general.
8. Snap Your Cursor to the Search Bar
- On Windows: Ctrl + L
- On Mac: ⌘ + L
Instead of having to take your hands away from the keyboard to move the cursor to the search bar, use this shortcut to instantly bring your cursor to the search bar to Google something or type in a URL.
9. Clear Browsing Data
- On Windows: Ctrl + Shift + Delete
- On Mac: ⌘ + Shift + Delete
As mentioned earlier, one of the downsides of using Incognito Mode is that you can’t bring back tabs you closed by accident because Chrome doesn’t store your browsing history.
If you’re concerned about privacy when using a loaner machine, a shared computer, or a machine at an Internet café, you can use this shortcut to bring up the “Clear Browsing Data” page, where you can then clear your data manually.
Use These Shortcuts & Start Being Productive
One of the reasons that make Chrome such a powerful browser lies in the myriad of shortcuts that allow you to take full control of your browser without having to take your hands off the keyboard.
Practice using these shortcuts to elevate your browsing game and be productive when browsing the Internet.
If you need a shortcut not found on this list, go to the Google Chrome Shortcuts page.
Screenshots taken by author, June 2019