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How to enable Developer mode on a Chromebook in just a few minutes

Developer Mode unlocks your Chromebook's full capacity, but it comes with its downsides.
November 5, 2021
Google Pixelbook Go Review rear profile
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Chrome OS devices are getting more powerful and capable, allowing for a pretty good, albeit simple, PC experience. If you want to go beyond the basic capabilities of your Chromebook, though, you’ll have to enable Chrome OS Developer Mode. This post will explain exactly how to do it and what to look out for when you’re at it.

Here: What is a Chromebook and what can it do?

Warning: Remember that enabling Chrome OS Developer Mode opens up your computer to abilities that aren’t officially supported. Make sure to do your research, and keep in mind that unsupported and experimental features can cause problems. The responsibility falls only upon you if something happens to your software or hardware. 

What is Chrome OS Developer Mode, anyway?

Acer Chromebook Spin 713 keyboard closeup
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Chrome OS Developer Mode is similar to gaining root access on your Android device. It gives you more control over your Chromebook and is a great option for those who love tweaking their devices.

Developer Mode isn’t for everyone and has several drawbacks, which we’ll get to later on. But if you want to gain root access to the Chrome OS’s file system to do things like sideload Android apps or install an additional OS, among many other things, enabling Developer Mode is the way to go.

How to enable Chromebook Developer Mode

Acer Chromebook Spin 713 Chrome OS developer mode
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

First, make sure you back up and save any important files you have stored on your device. Enabling Developer Mode wipes your login info and any locally stored data, which cannot be restored.

How to enable Developer Mode:

  1. Turn on your Chromebook.
  2. Press and hold the Esc key, refresh key, and the power button at the same time.
  3. When the “Chrome OS is missing or damaged. Please insert a recovery USB stick or SD Card.” message shows up, press and hold the Ctrl and D keys simultaneously.
  4. Some Chromebooks may require you to turn OS verification off. Press Enter (if required).
  5. Wait for the device to restart and go through the Chromebook setup process.
  6. You will get an odd screen saying that OS verification is off. Keep in mind this screen will happen every single time you boot up.
  7. Press Ctrl and D to restart successfully.

Also: The best Chromebooks you can buy

How to disable Chrome OS Developer mode

Lenovo Chromebook Duet running Chrome OS
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

As easy as it is to enable Chromebook Developer Mode, it is even simpler to disable it. But remember to backup your data once again, as disabling Developer Mode also erases everything from your Chrome OS device.

How to disable Developer Mode:

  1. Turn on your Chromebook or reboot it if it’s already on.
  2. When the screen that says “OS verification is off” shows up, press the spacebar.
  3. This will technically perform a factory data reset and wipe the laptop clean.
  4. Go through the Chromebook setup process again.

That’s all there is to it!

Also read: How to reset a Chromebook

Drawbacks of enabling Developer mode

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 side profie 2
David Imel / Android Authority

There are a lot of advantages to enabling Developer Mode on your Chromebook. It gives you access to the developer shell, allows you to install a standard Linux desktop environment, and is something you will need to enable if you are a Chrome OS developer.

Developer Mode is certainly not for the average user, and some technical know-how is needed to take full advantage of this mode. It also has a few disadvantages that you need to be wary of — check them out below.

  • Google doesn’t support Developer mode, so you may be at risk of voiding your device’s warranty.
  • All the security features are disabled when Developer Mode is turned on.
  • You lose your data when enabling or disabling Developer Mode. As you can see from the steps required to disable it, an accidental press of the spacebar at the wrong time is all you need to lose all your data once again. Making continuous backups if you’re working on something important is recommended.
  • Chromebooks boot up extremely fast, which is a feature you will lose when Developer mode is enabled. You’ll have to see that warning screen every single time you switch on the device.

Read next: The best Chromebook deals you can get right now

You’ll likely have plenty of other questions. Don’t worry; we’re here to help. Here are some resources to make life with your new Chromebook easier.