How to get the old on-screen Chrome OS keyboard shortcuts back

Recently, Google has modified the keyboard shortcuts help screen and some folks don’t care for the look. You’ll know if you have the new, searchable shortcuts helper if you see this when pressing ctrl + alt + / on your hardware keyboard:

The old, original keyboard shortcuts helper showed a virtual keyboard on your screen and would dynamically change when you pressed a modifier key, such as shift, ctrl, or alt to name a few. I found it pretty useful although the ability to search for shortcuts in the new version is admittedly helpful for new users.

It turns out that if you preferred the old, original keyboard shortcuts overlay, its not really gone. At least not yet. To see it, just type chrome://keyboardoverlay in your browser and it will appear, complete with the dynamic changes for the modifier keys.

I’ve actually bookmarked it so I don’t have to keep typing it when I want to see it.

For a more permanent change, there is currently an option to disable the new shortcuts display. Type chrome://flags#ash-enable-keyboard-shortcut-viewer in your browser and change the setting to Disabled. This will use the original shortcut viewer instead of the new one. You can always revert back to the current shortcut helper by setting this flag to Enabled or Default.

About the author

Kevin C. Tofel has covered technology since 2004. He's used ChromeOS since Google debuted the CR-48 in 2010, reviewing dozens of Chromebooks since then. He worked for Google's Chrome Enterprise team from 2016 to 2017, supporting the launch of Android app support. In his free time, he uses Chromebooks to learn software engineering at Launch School. In 2019, Kevin joined the CS Curriculum Committee at his local community college.

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12 thoughts on “How to get the old on-screen Chrome OS keyboard shortcuts back

  1. Great tip Kevin… But… Seems like the keyboardoverlay doesn’t like Launcher key on my Pixelbook. Once pressed it gets stuck and you can’t go back to seeing all shortcuts. Flag still works the best….

    1. Argh! I think that’s Google’s way of telling us to use the new shortcut method. 😉

  2. You CAN clear it by pressing Alt-Search.

    Pressing the Search key ALONE highlights the search key, but the OS also passes the keypress through to the Launcher pop-up. Pressing it again hides the Launcher, but the Search key remains lit in yellow.

  3. Hey, Google! Bring back the shortcuts keyboard overlay! A list is great for looking for a particular shortcut, but the overlay is far superior for teaching AND learning. Sincerely, Jane

  4. Well it seems the virtual keyboard is gone for good now. I miss it. I used it a lot. Why did they do this for? Why is it when something is good and working someone has to come along and try to ‘improve’ it only to mess it up. I am not happy about this. Is there any way to get it back? An app maybe or something. I would even settle for an online version. Please fix chrome://keyboardoverlay/

  5. Please bring back the shortcut screen overlay. I found it to be more helpful. chrome://keyboardoverlay/

    1. Why did they remove this in the first place? I so much want it back. How can we get them to put it back?

  6. Also really want to have this back. Wow. Why would they do this? It was so much more intuitive using the old overlay.

  7. GOOGLE! LOOK HERE! If you did, than can you please bring back ? If not, than can you add a setting in Chrome OS settings to revert to this old virtual keyboard? It would be AMAZING! Thx for reading (if you did) :]

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