Two Acer Chromebooks on an orange background

(Image credit: Acer)

Google just released a new version of ChromeOS which comes laden with some impressive improvements, including the ability to implement custom keyboard shortcuts and to do the same with your mouse buttons.

ChromeOS M123 delivers these new powers, and more besides, but the ability to actually define your own keyboard shortcuts will be the most welcome feature for owners of the best Chromebooks.

If you’re familiar with working a certain way with a particular shortcut, you can now change over to that – and as Google points out (via The Verge), you can also change shortcuts to, say, make it easier to trigger them using just one hand (stretch that thumb and finger).

Similarly, any of your mouse buttons can be redefined to trigger various functions outside of basic clicking, like taking a screenshot. That’s going to be really handy for those who have a mouse with plenty of side buttons.

With the latest update for ChromeOS, tethering is now a thing, allowing the Chromebook to share its cellular connection with other devices. There’s now a switch in Network Settings to turn on the Hotspot, which is all you need to do before searching for and finding the network on your other device(s).

Finally, ChromeOS 123 has new voices for its text-to-speech functionality – reading out text aloud – that are more natural sounding. These work offline and Google notes that they are available in 31 different languages.

Analysis: Some handy additions, with the odd catch

The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed on a white desk.

(Image credit: Future)

There are some very useful goodies here, particularly for those newer to ChromeOS who are maybe more accustomed to using a Mac or Windows PC

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Those users will have the shortcuts from those desktop operating systems ingrained in their muscle memory, no doubt, and so getting used to a whole new way of working might be an uphill struggle. Luckily, there’s no need to relearn anything now, as you can simply switch the default ChromeOS shortcuts to whatever you’re used to.

The tethering feature could be pretty handy as well, although there is a slight catch here. Right now, the only network supported is T-Mobile in the US, so unless you have your phone with that provider, then you’re out of luck. 

However, Google says it is “working to add other networks in future releases” and we’d imagine it won’t be too long before support is expanded. If you’re not seeing the update yet, fear not – Google says it’s going to be “progressively rolling out over the coming days”, so you should see it soon if your Chromebook supports it.

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel – ‘I Know What You Did Last Supper’ – was published by Hachette UK in 2013).

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