How to Customize the App Launcher on Your Chromebook Device

Key Takeaways:

  • The app launcher on Chromebooks can be customized to make your favorite apps and websites easily accessible
  • You can pin apps to the shelf, create folders, and reorder apps in the launcher to personalize your experience
  • Chrome flags allow you to enable additional customization options and productivity features for the launcher

As a long-time Chromebook user and tech enthusiast, I’ve spent countless hours optimizing my device to boost my productivity. One of the most impactful customizations I’ve made is tailoring the app launcher to my needs. The app launcher, also known as the shelf, is the central hub for accessing your installed apps and frequently visited websites on your Chromebook. By taking a few minutes to customize it, you can significantly streamline your workflow and make your Chromebook feel more personalized.

Pin Apps to the Shelf

The first step in customizing your app launcher is pinning your most-used apps to the shelf. This allows you to access them with a single click, saving you time and effort. To pin an app, follow these steps:

  1. Open the app launcher by clicking the circle icon in the bottom-left corner of your screen or pressing the “Search” or “Launcher” key on your keyboard.
  2. Locate the app you want to pin.
  3. Right-click on the app icon and select “Pin to shelf.”[1]

You can also pin websites to the shelf for quick access:

  1. Open the website in Chrome.
  2. Click the three-dot menu in the top-right corner of the browser.
  3. Select “More tools” > “Create shortcut.”
  4. Choose a name for the shortcut and click “Create.”
  5. Right-click the newly created shortcut in the app launcher and select “Pin to shelf.”[1]

Create App Folders

If you have numerous apps installed, organizing them into folders can help declutter your launcher and make it easier to find what you need. To create a folder:

  1. Open the app launcher.
  2. Click and drag an app icon onto another app icon.
  3. Release the mouse button to create a folder containing both apps.
  4. Click on the newly created folder to open it, then click “Unnamed Folder” to give it a name.[6]

Repeat this process to add more apps to the folder or create additional folders as needed.

Reorder Apps and Folders

Once you’ve pinned your favorite apps and created folders, you may want to arrange them in a way that makes sense to you. To move an app or folder:

  1. Open the app launcher.
  2. Click and drag the app or folder icon to its new position.
  3. Release the mouse button to drop it in place.[1]

You can also sort your apps automatically by right-clicking in the launcher and selecting “Sort by” > “Name” or “Color.”[3]

Enable the New Productivity Launcher

With the release of Chrome OS 100, Google introduced a new productivity launcher that offers improved organization and search capabilities. To enable this feature:

  1. Open Chrome and type “chrome://flags” into the address bar.
  2. Search for “productivity launcher.”
  3. Click the dropdown menu next to “Productivity experiment: App Launcher” and select “Enabled.”
  4. Click “Restart” to apply the changes.[7]

The new productivity launcher features a more compact design, the ability to search for apps and web results directly from the launcher, and integration with Google Assistant.[18]

Customize the Shelf Position and Behavior

In addition to customizing the contents of your shelf, you can also change its position and behavior:

  1. Right-click on an empty area of the shelf.
  2. Hover over “Shelf position” and select “Left,” “Bottom,” or “Right” to change its location on your screen.
  3. To automatically hide the shelf when not in use, select “Autohide shelf.” To disable this feature, uncheck “Autohide shelf.”[1]

Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Chromebooks offer numerous keyboard shortcuts to help you navigate your device more efficiently. Some useful shortcuts for managing the app launcher include:

  • Press the “Search” or “Launcher” key to open the app launcher.[3]
  • Press “Shift + Alt + L” to highlight the app launcher button, then use the arrow keys or “Tab” to navigate through your pinned apps and folders.[3]
  • Press “Enter” to open the selected app or folder.[3]

Take some time to explore and memorize the shortcuts that are most relevant to your workflow.


Customizing your Chromebook’s app launcher is a simple but effective way to boost your productivity and make your device feel more personalized. By pinning your favorite apps, creating folders, and enabling the new productivity launcher, you can streamline your workflow and access your most-used tools with ease. Experiment with different layouts and settings to find what works best for you, and don’t forget to take advantage of keyboard shortcuts to navigate even more efficiently.

As you can see, with just a few tweaks and customizations, you can transform your Chromebook’s app launcher into a powerful and intuitive tool that helps you stay organized and focused on your tasks. So go ahead and give these tips a try – your productivity will thank you!