May 21, 2024

How to disable Chrome’s obnoxious Ctrl-Shift-Q shortcut


All right, Android fans: Today’s tip is for you. Well, kind of. It’s actually related to Chrome for Windows. But if you carry an Android phone and also use a Windows computer — whether at work or at home — there’s a decent chance you use Chrome on the desktop, too.

I do — and I’ve lost count of the number of the times I’ve accidentally closed all my active Chrome tabs because I hit Ctrl-Shift-Q by mistake. Ctrl-Shift-Q, if you aren’t familiar, is a native Chrome shortcut that closes every tab and window you have open without warning. It’s infuriatingly close to Ctrl-Shift-Tab, a shortcut that shifts your focus back to the previous tab in your current window. That’s what I’m typically trying to do when I hit “Q” instead of “Tab” by mistake.

Man, is that annoying. And I’m not the only one who’s been bamboozled by how easy it is to activate that nuclear option.

Multiple threads in the public Chromium issue-tracker talk about the problems of having a keyboard command that closes everything you’re working on so swiftly. According to one, which dates back to 2010 and is now marked as “closed,” the Chrome development team at some point decided against the idea of implementing any sort of confirmation or warning into the shortcut.

Instead, the focus is apparently now on tweaking the shortcut so you’d have to hold Ctrl-Shift-Q for a certain amount of time before the fatal tab-closing commences — thus making the command less likely to be activated by mistake. A still-active thread discussing that possibility has been around for nearly four years, though, and has yet to be resolved.

As one Chromium team member put it back in February of 2016:

This is marked [high priority], but it’s been open for three years. … Almost no one is defending the current behavior, but we’ve been in stalemate because no one’s made a decision about if and how we should address this.

Right. So there you have it.

We could debate all day whether there’s any real reason to even have a shortcut that closes all of your Chrome tabs in one fell swoop (seriously, does anyone actually use this thing intentionally?) — but for now, at least, the reality is that it’s there. And it’s all too easy to hit by mistake.

The good news, though, is while Google itself may not be scrambling to implement a fix, there are some relatively simple steps you can take to keep yourself from Ctrl-Shift-Q’ing your brains out.

All you’ve gotta do is:

  1. Type chrome:extensions into your browser’s address bar. This will pull up the Chrome Extensions page.
  2. Scroll all the way down to the very bottom of the page and click the link labeled “Keyboard shortcuts.”
  3. Pick an extension, any extension — then click the box alongside it. (Don’t have any available extensions in your list? (Really?!) Go install something simple and innocuous like the Save to Google Drive extension, then go back to step 1 and start again.)
  4. When the box is active and ready for input, it’ll turn a different color and say “Type a shortcut.” Make sure you see that text before proceeding to the next step; otherwise, you’ll inadvertently activate the blasted Ctrl-Shift-Q command and cause all your tabs to close in the midst of this.
  5. Once you’re sure the box is active, press Ctrl-Shift-Q on your keyboard, then click “OK” at the bottom of the screen.

That’s it! What you’ve effectively just done is overridden Chrome’s native Ctrl-Shift-Q shortcut with a custom Ctrl-Shift-Q shortcut of your own. So the next time your fingers accidentally hit that dreaded key combo, all that’ll happen is that the extension you picked will open. No tossed-away tabs, no cursing, no furious desk-pounding.

It’s definitely more of a workaround than a proper fix, but it’s the best we’ve got for now — and all it takes is one accidental complete-tab-shutdown to know that it’s much better than the alternative.

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