As a consumer in the age of the iPhone, I encounter frustrating user interfaces on a daily basis, whether it is with said iPhone, a poorly designed doorhandle, or otherwise. Often, with little tweaks, these could be remedied. Expect this to be a regular feature, as there is always more assclownery about.

Google Chrome

The Ctrl+K shortcut

Background: Chrome has brilliantly mixed the search bar with the URL bar. Using small, custom keywords, I can quickly point my browser precisely where I need to. For example, if I type “wiki cow,” I’ll soon be reading about domesticated ungulates.

Problem: Let’s say I’m done looking at cows, and want to look up sheep instead. I could press Ctrl+T, open a new tab, then type “wiki sheep.” However, if I don’t want to open a new tab, I need to get a cursor in the URL bar. I could take my hands off the keyboard and click. Chrome, however, has a shortcut: Ctrl+K. Ctrl+K automatically clears the URL bar, and sticks the cursor there so the user can navigate. However, Chrome also sticks a question mark in there.



Ctrl+K is brilliant! I love being able to quickly bounce around the nets without a mouse. Ctrl+K lets me do so… but not without deleting the mysterious question mark that jumps in my way for no apparent reason. Who the hell put that in there in the first place?

The Fix: It’s beyond my reach to modify Chrome code, but I can’t imagine it would be a difficult fix on their end.

Irritation Level: 3 of 5

Extra point for the problem being so obvious and basic.


  1. Ishmaeel says:

    July 30th, 2009 at 10:00 pm (#)

    My guess is that their initial design was “type shit to go to, and type ?shit to search for shit on google.” Then they decided that a url and a search keyword is essentially the same shit, merged and streamlined the functionality and left the ctrl-k query mark behind like the proverbial Macaulay Culkin.

    Solution? Train yourself to use Ctrl-D. Now that Opera and Firefox have caved too; it is the cross-browser shortcut to focus and select the url box.

  2. Ishmaeel says:

    July 30th, 2009 at 10:03 pm (#)

    …by which I mean Alt-D, of course.

  3. trond says:

    July 31st, 2009 at 4:28 am (#)

    It's probably because CTRL-K is the normal search key combo on Firefox. You're looking for CTRL-L, which takes you to the location bar, highlights the current URL, and lets you type in a new one. Or, as someone else said, ALT-D

    I actually kinda like that they have the two different key combos, despite using only a single text entry box.

  4. Lewix says:

    August 2nd, 2009 at 9:28 pm (#)

    Putting a question mark before something in the address box searches it in Google instead of going to the address (if you type “?”, you'll get a google search page, not the home page). So the ctrl + k (or ctrl + e) will mimik the other browser's search box function : by putting a question mark.
    Otherwise ctrl + l or alt + d is what you actually seem to want to do…

  5. Fildip says:

    August 16th, 2009 at 8:59 am (#)

    tried F6 ?

  6. Richie Arnold says:

    September 10th, 2010 at 1:33 pm (#)

    Solution: Ctrl+L

  7. Buy domain India says:

    October 28th, 2011 at 12:55 pm (#)

    How you have got it? I will try…

  8. Unca Alby says:

    December 10th, 2010 at 9:55 pm (#)

    I played around with, and you can just ignore it. The behavior is the same whether or not that question mark is in there.

  9. David Droddy says:

    October 26th, 2011 at 4:34 pm (#)

    F6 dude. sheesh!

  10. Alexander Ewering says:

    December 11th, 2011 at 1:00 pm (#)

    Try CTRL-L??

  11. joomla developers says:

    December 13th, 2011 at 1:23 pm (#)

    Yes, well written article. I could find out some useful information on your blog guys. This is really useful for everyone. I love this post. Thanks for sharing it.

  12. Anon says:

    January 9th, 2014 at 8:21 am (#)

    Try Ctrl+L 😛

  13. Felix Volpe says:

    January 10th, 2014 at 10:27 am (#)

    You could basically do the same thing withouth the question mark by pressing f6 at any time =)

  14. My name says:

    March 14th, 2014 at 4:23 am (#)

    Irritation level 3 of 5 for something that is just completely misunderstood on your part…

  15. Arnob says:

    April 26th, 2014 at 8:56 am (#)


  16. The observer says:

    August 19th, 2014 at 7:46 am (#)

    Yknow do something like cmd: ctrl + k then type “wiki sheep” it will search wiki sheep instead of ?wiki sheep

  17. Rexan says:

    February 24th, 2015 at 9:50 pm (#)

    Ditto Anon and Richie Arnold.

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