Chromebooks are simple, convenient, portable, and often very affordable. These make for great computers, and software availability has evolved enough that another computer OS may not be necessary for many. But there’s no denying Windows has its advantages, especially in app availability. Sadly, many games and programs still haven’t made it to Chrome OS. If you are wondering how to run Windows on Chromebook devices you have come to the right place.
Editor’s warning: Some of these methods for using Windows on Chromebook devices require a high level of tinkering with the software/hardware in your computer. There’s a chance you can damage your device and/or void your manufacturer warranty. Proceed with these methods only if you feel confident about your technical knowledge and research. No one but you will be responsible shall anything happen to your Chromebook in the process.
Can you install Windows on a Chromebook?
Installing Windows on Chromebook devices is possible, but it is no easy feat. Chromebooks were simply not made to run Windows, and if you really want a full desktop OS they are more compatible with Linux.
Our suggestion is that if you really want to use Windows it’s better to get a Windows computer. With that said, we also understand there are some really outstanding Chromebooks available and Chrome OS has some amazing benefits. If you must go with a Chromebook and need to install Windows on it to take care of some tasks, we’re here to help.
Also: Chromebook vs laptop
You might not need to install Windows on Chromebook devices!
Chromebooks used to be very limited, but their software and app availability is growing heavily thanks to the addition of support for other apps.
Chromebooks can run Android apps
While not all Chromebooks support Android apps, most modern ones do. It’s only older versions that lucked out of this feature.
If your Chrome OS laptop has access to the Google Play Store, you have a huge portfolio of apps at your disposal. There are nearly 3 million apps in the Google Play Store, and while Chrome OS devices can’t take advantage of every app in there, most important ones support Chromebooks.
Chromebooks that support Android apps have the Google Play Store. Simply open it and search for any Android apps you may want. Even higher-end apps like Adobe Lightroom, some forms of Photoshop, AutoCAD, and others are available. Not to mention Android games, for when need to take a break from all that productivity. Check out the link below for other great Android apps you could use on your Chromebook.
Some Chromebooks can also run Linux apps
For true desktop-level productivity you should check if your Chromebook can run Linux apps. This allows you to install desktop apps as long as they are available for Linux operating systems. Some popular ones include LibreOffice, Audacity, GIMP, Steam, VLC, and Firefox. If all the apps you need come in Linux variations, you are in luck! Simply learn how to install Linux apps on Chromebooks and you are set.
The list of Chrome OS devices that support Linux apps is more limited, but it continues to grow. You can check if your computer makes the cut in the list linked below.
Some apps have great web versions
Some people buy Windows laptops to use Microsoft Office apps like Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc. Did you know these are available online? And for free! Web apps have become very powerful and you can even edit photos and video using Chrome.
Run Windows on Chromebook devices using Chrome Remote Desktop
The most user-friendly way to run Windows on Chromebook devices is probably through the Chrome Remote Desktop tool. This essentially allows you to control a computer from another device or mobile device. It’s a remote desktop app, but it runs on the Chrome browser, making it easier to set up.
The downside is that, well… you need to have a Windows computer aside from your Chromebook. This might defeat the purpose, because if you have a Windows machine you might as well use it instead. But this is a great tool if, for example, you have a desktop at home and want to use Windows through your Chromebook when on-the-go.
- Make sure you are signed into the same Google account on both computers.
- Open Chrome on your Windows computer.
- Go to Google’s remote desktop website.
- Under “Set up Remote Access”, select Download.
- Follow the installation instructions.
- Open Chrome on your Chromebook.
- Go to Google’s remote desktop website.
- Click Access and select the computer you want to access.
- Enter the PIN if you have one.
- Select the arrow to connect.
- You are in!
- You can go to Options > Disconnect to finish the session.
Run Windows apps on Chromebooks using CrossOver
This method won’t help you run full Windows on Chromebook devices, but it doesn’t require tinkering and might be a better option. CrossOver is an Android app that can run full Windows apps. Sounds like the perfect solution, but there are a couple caveats.
Not all Chromebooks can use it; only Intel-based laptops can take advantage of CrossOver. Also, because this app is in beta, some things might not work perfectly.
- Open the Google Play Store on your Chromebook.
- Download and Install CrossOver.
- Open CrossOver and allow all permissions.
- Download the installation file of the Windows app you want to install. Leave it in your Downloads folder.
- Launch CrossOver.
- Search or browse the app you want to use.
- Let the installation process run.
- You can now launch the Windows app on your Chromebook.
Related: The best cheap laptops you can buy
How to install Windows on Chromebook laptops
You have exhausted all other possibilities and still want to install Windows on a Chromebook? Let’s get started. But please keep in mind this requires heavy tinkering, the use of third-party drivers, and literally opening up your laptop. There is a chance you can damage your device and/or void your warranty. Anything that happens is on you, so be careful.
- The Chromebook you want to install Windows on.
- A secondary Windows computer.
- Tools for disassembling your Chromebook.
- USB flash drive.
- A USB keyboard and mouse
Getting the Chromebook ready:
- Turn the Chromebook off.
- Open the back and remove the Write Protect Screw. It’s different in every Chromebook, so do some research to find out where you can find it.
- Press Esc + Refresh + Power to enter Recovery Mode.
- Hit Ctrl + D and press Enter to enable Developer Mode.
- Press Ctrl + D to boot Chrome OS.
- Open a tab and press Ctrl + Alt + T.
- Type in “shell” and press Enter.
- Paste this: cd ~; curl -L -O https://mrchromebox.tech/uefi-flash.sh && sudo bash uefi-flash.sh
- Press Enter.
- Select Full coreboot Firmware from the options.
Download Windows on Chromebook devices using a USB flash drive:
- Open a browser on your Windows computer.
- Go to Microsoft’s website to download the software for your Chromebook Windows 10 installation.
- Insert the USB flash drive.
- Open the file you downloaded and hit Accept.
- Select Create Installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC.
- Pick Next.
- Choose Use the recommended options for this PC and press Next.
- Pick USB flash drive and hit Next.
- Wait for the process to conclude and click on Finish.
How to install Windows on Chromebook laptop using a USB flash drive:
- Take the Chrome OS Windows USB flash drive and insert it into the Chromebook.
- Your Chromebook might boot directly from the USB device. If it doesn’t, press Esc as soon as the Chromebook boots. Find your USB device and select it.
- Connect your USB keyboard and mouse to the Chromebook.
- Select your language and region are correct and hit Next.
- Hit Install now.
- When asked about the product key, select I don’t have a product key.
- Select the version of Windows you want to install. Preferably Windows 10 Home or Pro.
- Select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).
- Delete all partitions listed, ignore warnings, and hit Next.
- Let Windows install and reboot.
- Remove the USB drive if asked to do so.
- Set up Windows and skip connecting to a network.
Install drivers for Windows on Chromebook:
All Chromebooks have different hardware and drivers, so we can’t give you the drivers you need to make everything work. In addition, many official drivers won’t work, as they weren’t made to work in a hacked computer like this. This means you might need to find third party drivers to make everything work.
While we can’t help you much here, we know where you can get everything. Developer CoolStar has developed a guide for installing Windows on Chromebook devices. Just go to his website by pressing the button below and select your model. This site will provide all necessary drivers and tell you if there are any components that don’t work yet.