Use Caret Browsing in Chrome for Enhanced Text Selection and Navigation

Do you need to frequently copy text from web pages or need a precise web page navigation tool for longer reads? If so, you can go for the caret browsing feature, using which you can make text selection more precisely.

What is Caret Browsing?

Caret browsing is a keyboard navigation technique where a text cursor is used to navigate through the web page like you use in MS Word or any text editor.

The other navigation that we generally use is called tabbed navigation, where we control text cursor with ‘Tab’ key to move around focusable elements like hyperlinks and form controls. We also have spatial navigation, where we use arrow keys to move the cursor as we do in games.

caret browsing chrome

Caret navigation is a finer document browsing tool as compared to tabbed and spatial navigation, but it is bit slower.If you are a voracious web reader or a keyboard junkie, then use caret browsing for greater control on text.

Caret browsing is available in-built with Firefox and IE/Edge. You can switch caret mode ON/OFF by using the default shortcut, F7 key.

Google chrome doesn’t provide it as an in-built keyboard navigation, but you can install this extension for caret functionality. It has been developed by the same team in Google, which has already developed extensions for increasing Chrome Accessibility.

How to use caret browsing?

1. Enable caret browsing mode with the shortcut F7 key. (Same to disable it)

2. Click on the text where you want the text cursor.

3. Use arrow keys to navigate through the text.

4. For fit skipping words use Ctrl (Cmd for macOS) and arrow keys.

5. To use a link, focus on the hyperlink and press enter.

6. To exit a focused control (like a text box or a list box), Press Esc followed by the left or right arrow.

You can also use Chrome’s keyboard shortcut to enhance caret browsing experience.

Extension provides and easy way for keyboard navigation, but if you want to go without an extension, you can still use caret browsing using this shortcut:

> Press Ctrl+Shift+J to enter the console tab
> Paste the following code in the console tab and press enter

document.body.contentEditable=true

Now you get a cursor and can even edit the contents of the whole page. The edits are temporary till the page is refreshed. But be cautious – printing or taking screenshots of the modified web document falls under forgery as it appears from the official source. Use this method if you don’t want to use caret browsing frequently, else better to install the extension.

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Filed under Google Chrome Tricks. Posted by Abhishek and last updated on August 25, 2015.

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