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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.
By
March 29, 2022

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 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. 

QUICK ANSWER

To enable developer mode on a Chromebook, press and hold the Esc + Refresh + power button at once. When the Chrome OS is missing or damaged message shows up, press and hold Ctrl + D simultaneously. Press Enter if asked to turn OS verification off.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

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. 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 stored on your device. Enabling Developer Mode wipes your login information and any locally stored data, which cannot be restored.

  • Press and hold the Esc key, refresh key, and the power button simultaneously.
  • 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.
  • Some Chromebooks may require you to turn OS verification off. Press Enter (if required).
  • Wait for the device to restart and go through the Chromebook setup process.
  • 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.
  • 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 back up your data once again, as disabling Developer Mode also erases everything from your Chrome OS device.

  • Press the spacebar when the screen that says OS verification is off shows up.
  • This will perform a factory data reset and wipe the laptop clean.
  • Go through the Chromebook setup process again.

Also read: How to reset a Chromebook

Drawbacks of enabling Developer mode

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 time you switch on the device.

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

FAQs

Q: Is developer mode safe on a Chromebook?
A: Developer mode requires you to turn off OS verification in most cases, making it an unsafe option. You should only turn it on if you’re sure of what you’re doing.

Q: How do I install an APK file without developer mode on a Chromebook?
A: To install an APK without developer mode, you can install Linux on your Chromebook, set up ADB, and tap on the Build number in the About device section in your Android preferences.

Q: How do you enable developer mode on a school Chromebook?
A: Enabling developer mode on a school Chromebook is tougher. You’ll have to disassemble the Chromebook, disconnect the battery from the motherboard, and press the power button for 30 seconds. Then you need to follow the method we have explained in this tutorial. Even then, you’re likely to be met with a software lock that won’t let you bypass the administrative restrictions.