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How to Turn Off the Touchscreen on ChromeOS in 4 Steps, with Photos

Chromebook 2022

How to Turn Off the Touchscreen on ChromeOS in 4 Steps, with Photos

Accidental touches on a touchscreen can be frustrating, especially if yours is malfunctioning or you have small children who don’t yet know how to keep their hands to themselves. ChromeOS doesn’t make turning touch inputs off easy, but you can do it if you desire. Here’s how you can turn off the touchscreen on your ChromeOS machine.

Step 1: Open the Flags Menu

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Google Chrome’s flags menu can be accessed by typing “chrome://flags” into the address bar.

For starters, you’ll need to open the Flags menu. Like most menus in ChromeOS, the easiest way to access the Flags menu is to open Google Chrome. Then, you want to type “chrome://flags” into the search bar and hit the Enter key, which will open the dialog in a separate window.

Step 2: Enable Debugging Keyboard Shortcuts

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Enabling Debugging Keyboard Shortcuts on ChromeOS gives you access to additional keyboard inputs.

You can find this option by searching “keyboard” or “debugging keyboard” in the search bar. Then, just use the drop-down menu on the right to enable it.

Step 3: Restart Your Chromebook

This step is relatively straightforward. You need to restart your ChromeOS machine for the debugging shortcuts to enable.

Step 4: Disable the Touchscreen

Disable touchscreen ChromeOS
The search key is just above the shift key on the left-hand side of your Chromebook keyboard.

You can now disable the computer’s touchscreen by pressing Shift + Search + T. If you need to re-enable the touchscreen on ChromeOS, you can repeat the hotkey combination.

What Is a ChromeOS Flag?

Google is constantly working on new features for the Chrome browser and OS. Many of them become available as optional flags you can enable through the flag menu before their full release as permanent features. One of the most popular features in Chrome, picture-in-picture video players, was initially released as a Chrome flag to collect usage data before becoming a permanent fixture in Chrome and Chromium-based browsers.

Other Chrome flags include debugging tools. These optional tools and features are helpful for developers who need to test their applications and extensions against the existing Chrome browser and OS elements. Debugging tools allow you to turn existing features on and off to ascertain which ones conflict with your project, if any.

Simply put, Chrome flags allow you to enable tools and features not included in the de facto build of the browser or OS. These features can help Google perfect new elements before rolling them out or aid you in developing your own extensions and applications that interact with the Chrome browser or OS.

Since ChromeOS can only block touch input on your screen through a debugging shortcut, you’ll need to enable the ability to use debugging keyboard shortcuts in the flags menu before you can turn it off. There’s no other way to turn off the touchscreen on ChromeOS.

Are There Risks to Using Chrome Flags?

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Google Chrome can be modified to use experimental features through the flags menu.

Chrome flags aren’t a risk-free venture. As with any incomplete feature, you can experience several problems when using flags. Since these new elements haven’t been tested extensively — being rolled out as a flag is part of Google’s testing process — they can conflict with existing features and applications. Flags can even present a security risk in severe cases, depending on which aspects of the Chrome browser and OS they interact with.

Some people should avoid using Chrome flags, such as those handling sensitive data for any entity. Government employees should also avoid using flags. While significant security risks from flags are rare, people handling such sensitive information should take additional precautions. Unfortunately, that means that you won’t be able to turn off your touchscreen on ChromeOS. 

What Are Command-Line Chrome Flags?

Running flags from the command line gives you more options than the chrome://flags menu. You can only access some Chrome features and tools from a computer’s terminal. However, this requires you to know more about the flags you want to enable.

What Happens When Flags Conflict?

Flags can conflict with each other. These features aren’t fully tested, and there may be unresolved conflicts, especially when two concurrent elements are both flags. Using multiple features that aren’t complete and haven’t been tested against all the existing aspects of the Chrome browser or OS is bound to cause conflicts.

Several things can happen when you have conflicting flags enabled. Firstly, your flags may not work correctly. You might experience unintended or buggy behavior from the flags you enable if you have multiple. You may even have flags that refuse to work altogether because of other enabled flags.

In severe cases, you may experience crashes in the Chrome browser or the whole OS when you have conflicts in your enabled flags. Crashes may be minor, intermittent, or even fatal. Conflicts can render the entire machine unusable until you powerwash it to disable all the flags.

If you suspect you’re experiencing a flag conflict, you can check which flags you’re using by going to “chrome://version” and checking the command line section.

Additionally, you may find that flags available in the flags menu may override command-line implementations. If you’ve enabled a flag in the command line, but it isn’t working the way you expect, check the chrome://flags menu to see if it can be enabled there. If it’s still set to disabled in that menu, you may be able to get it working by setting it in the flags menu.

What Are the Most Useful Chrome Flags?

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Chromebooks can utilize many flags to improve productivity and user experience.

Available Chrome flags change all the time. Previous flags get rolled out as permanent features or sent back to development. Some even get scrapped entirely. So, it’s hard to pin down an evergreen list of helpful Chrome flags. However, here are some that have made waves in recent computer news. Turning off your touchscreen isn’t the only thing you can do with flags.

Secure DNS Lookups

This flag aims to improve user privacy by sending DNS lookup requests through an HTTPS connection rather than an HTTP one. HTTPS connections encrypt the data moving between your computer and the server, making it harder to intercept and access. 

Without this flag enabled, Chrome will send your DNS lookup requests using an unencrypted connection, which is more susceptible to interception and theft.

Reader Mode

If you find website elements and article images distracting, you can use Chrome’s Reader Mode flag to strip pages of unnecessary aspects. Using Reader Mode will leave your web pages with just the necessary elements, leaving you with mostly, if not only, text.

Tab Groups

If you often have hundreds of tabs open, you can use the Tab Groups flag to improve your experience overall. This flag is relatively straightforward. It allows you to group tabs into little folders you can access instead of working with them individually.

Parallel Downloads

Waiting for downloads to finish is terrible. So, enable parallel downloads! Downloading a file requires the computer and server to complete several different tasks. Traditionally, these tasks happen one at a time. However, parallel downloading allows the tasks to run concurrently, which lowers your overall download speed. This flag can increase your resource usage, though. So, be careful not to overload your computer with it!

Wrap-Up

Chrome flags are experimental features in Google Chrome that you can enable manually. You can turn off the touchscreen on ChromeOS semi-permanently via the debugging keyboard shortcuts flag. First, enable the flag, then press Shift + Search + T. You can turn it back on any time you like using this same shortcut.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Chrome flags?

Chrome flags are experimental and otherwise non-default features in Google Chrome that users can enable manually.

Can you turn off the touchscreen on a Chromebook?

Yes, the touchscreen on your Chromebook can be turned off semi-permanently.

How do I turn off the touchscreen on my Chromebook?

First, you need to enable the debugging keyboard shortcuts flag. Then press Shift + Search + T to turn off the touchscreen.

How do I turn the touchscreen back on after turning it off?

Repeat the Shift + Search + T shortcut with debugging keyboard shortcuts turned on to turn the touchscreen back on.

What other Chrome flags are there?

Chrome flags change all the time as new flags are added and previous flags are rolled out as permanent features.

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