The lack of a delete key makes the Chromebook a disappointment

Chromebook Pixel Keyboard

For all of their technological genius and massive resources, Google sure doesn’t know how to make hardware. It’s a problem that has plagued them for years but it seems to be best highlighted with the Chromebook Pixel.

Over at CNET, they were focused on one of the major bugs with the laptop – the challenge the device has with connecting to cameras. There’s good and bad that comes with having an operating system that is designed to be light and shareable. One of the bad parts is that you often miss some of the common accepted notions that other operating systems (and their users) take for granted.

Because it runs on what is essentially a souped-up browser, Chrome OS faces the kinds of difficulties that don’t plague other operating systems. The regular updates can be a two-headed coin. Changes are made regularly and the browser OS gets better more often than not and on-schedule. But it also means that if the browser’s performance is off during an update cycle, you’re stuck with that hit.

There are sacrifices that people are willing to make in order to get the proper size and portability they want out of mobile devices, but this is one that crosses the line. There’s no delete key. There’s no way to hack your way into having a delete key. There’s no caps lock key either (replaced by a persistent search button), but at least that can be fixed in settings.

It isn’t that the delete key is all that important. It only takes a few days of steady use for someone to get used to it and start using the backspace key for all of their error-correcting needs. That’s not the point. It’s about changing a paradigm by replacing it with greatness rather than reducing it with poor decisions. Google is one of the few companies that can and should change the way we operate technologically in this world. The Chromebook family should be an absolute gamechanger the way that many of the Apple devices have been in the last decade. Instead, they have a dud. The lack of a delete key isn’t the end of the world for its users, but it’s enough to point to a fundamental flaw in the way that Google handles hardware in general.

Written by Connor Livingston

+Connor Livingston is a tech blogger who will be launching his own site soon, Lythyum. He lives in Oceanside, California, and has never surfed in his life. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
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Ian Ray
May 18th, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Use alt-backspace.

Ian Ray
May 18th, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Meant Ctrl-Backspace for delete.

Mick Wheeler
May 18th, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Did you try ALT-Backspace? It functions as Delete. There are other examples of keyboards without a Delete key (most on screen keyboards don’t). I’m happy that the Chrome keyboard has adapted and for the better… your mileage may vary.

May 18th, 2013 at 8:40 pm

I can’t believe you are a “tech” writer and you wrote this. Alt-Backspace replaces the delete key. Saves space on the keyboard and the function is preserved. Whole article is about a problem that isn’t a problem.

May 18th, 2013 at 9:44 pm

“There‚Äôs no way to hack your way into having a delete key. ”

Seriously, is ALT-backspace THAT much of an inconvenience?

May 18th, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Hey genius: Try Alt+Backspace for delete. While you’re at it, try Ctrl+Alt+/ for an onscreen keyboard display that illustrates shortcuts as you press Ctrl, Alt, and Shift.

I think your thinking is fundamentally flawed. Do some research before making sweeping declarations. Sheesh

Colin Scroggins
May 18th, 2013 at 9:51 pm

@Connor: As a paying owner and daily user of a WiFi Chrome Pixel, lack of caps lock and delete keys have not caused one ounce of trouble for me. Peddle your troll bait elsewhere.

Additionally, far from being a disappointment, the Pixel does exactly the opposite of what you claim; it proves to me that Google can make world-class hardware that rivals or bests Apple’s! I have owned both a Macbook Air and a Macbook Pro Retina, and my Pixel is the nicest combination of hardware I have seen in any laptop, bar none.

Google’s challenge is not in proving they can do hardware, but in selling the overall concept that Chrome OS represents to consumers. Having just attended two sessions at Google I/O on packaged apps, I am convinced that they have a strong shot. It is a battle which will be won or lost in software and overall user experience, not in the pruning of two vestigial keys.

Ian Ray
May 18th, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Nvm, ctrl-backspace is delete previous word.

Ian Ray
May 18th, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Alt-backspace is like Fn-Delete on MacBook to do forward delete.

Btw, MacBook delete key is “backspace.”

May 18th, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Seriously? What in the world are you talking about?

Kenny Strawn
May 18th, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Ever tried holding down Alt while poking Backspace? Lololol

May 18th, 2013 at 10:48 pm

you know you can access delete key via keyboard shortcut, don’t you?

Mike R
May 18th, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Del=Shift+Backspace. Lame article.

May 19th, 2013 at 1:03 am

Last time I checked you just hit alt+Backspace and hey presto…

May 19th, 2013 at 1:42 am

Are you serious? No Delete key is your only valid argument to say that Google fails at hardware? That’s being very short sighted isn’t it? (I guess having the highest resolution display in the market doesn’t count as “hardware”…did you even notice that it’s a touchscreen?)

Just so you know, if you use ALT+Backspace this functions the same way as the Delete key. These are two big buttons instead of one small key as seen on devices of companies that, in your opinion, do get hardware.

For me it actually makes it easier, because I don’t have to look down to my keyboard to see where the exact location of the small Delete key is.

Finally, try pressing CTRL-ALT-?, this will bring up beautiful overlay of all the shortcuts that exist on a Chromebook.

May 19th, 2013 at 4:08 am

Alt+Backspace = Delete

Sebastiaan Franken
May 19th, 2013 at 5:04 am

Have you even used a chromebook for more than fifteen seconds? You get used to the fact there is not delete key very very fast with such a nicely trimmed and good working OS.

And labeling something a “disappointment” based on the lack of ONE key? That’s pretty rash and harsh don’t you think? It’s like saying no to a really nice car just because it doesn’t come with an automatic gearbox, only stickshift: lame and shortsighted.

May 19th, 2013 at 5:34 am

“The chromebook actually does have delete functionality, just like on a mac, press ctrl+backspace”

May 19th, 2013 at 6:04 am

You Sir, are an idiot.

Sam Glover
May 19th, 2013 at 6:07 am

MacBooks don’t have delete keys, either, and it doesn’t seem to be hurting sales.

On a MacBook, you just use fn+Backspace. On a Chromebook, Alt+Backspace does the trick.

The lack of a delete key (and Home and End keys) was always a complaint for me on low-end Windows laptops, MacBooks, and Chromebooks, too, but once I get used to mashing the key combos, I find I don’t even notice.

Dave Sparks
May 19th, 2013 at 6:27 am

Apple keyboards haven’t had delete keys for a long time, if they ever had them at all. Seems a strange complaint in that light.

May 19th, 2013 at 6:56 am

Did you know that you can press ALT+backspace to do a forward delete on a Chromebook?

May 19th, 2013 at 8:21 am

It absolutely does have caps lock and delete.
Alt+Backspace = Delete
Alt+Search = Caps Lock

James Kissel
May 19th, 2013 at 10:03 am

ALT + Backspace

Hint: Ctrl + Alt + ?

May 19th, 2013 at 10:18 am

It is my understanding that this terrible design flaw is commonplace on all Apple product keyboards?

May 19th, 2013 at 11:00 am

Your entire argument is about an obsolete key that really isn’t needed anymore? You got backspace, and backspace+Ctrl if you really want to mimic the delete key. But I know, this article is probably just click bait.

Kindly stop publishing posts, Mr. Livingston.

May 19th, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Really. Alt-Backspace works as DELETE on all chromebooks. Easy.
Contrl-Alt-? shows key mappings in case you forget.

May 19th, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Google did this right. It even got the name correct. The sole error-correct key on my Macbook Pro (my beloved Macbook Pro) is called delete, but it is what PC users would conventionally call a backspace key. “Del” functionality comes from Fn-delete.
So Google has copied Apple’s efficiency in saving keys and provided an equal approach to adding the functionality of the omitted physical button. But Google have given this one key the conventionally correct name.

May 21st, 2013 at 12:54 am

This article is retardation on a grand scale.

Paul Lynch
July 12th, 2013 at 8:14 am

The alt-backspace is a great find. Does anyone know where there is a complete list of key combinations?


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