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How to put Windows on Chromebook devices

We actually don't recommend it, but we'll help if you must!
By
April 27, 2022

Chromebooks are simple, convenient, portable, and often very affordable. These make for great computers, and app 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 software 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.

More: What is a Chromebook, and what can it do?

How to put Windows on Chromebook devices

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 may 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 if anything happens to your Chromebook.

Can you install Windows on a Chromebook?

Google Pixelbook Go Review front view open
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Installing Windows on Chromebook devices is possible, but it is no easy feat. Chromebooks were not made to run Windows, and if you really want a full desktop OS, they are more compatible with Linux.

We suggest that if you want to use Windows, it’s better to get a Windows computer. With that said, we also understand there are some awesome Chromebooks, and Chrome OS has some amazing benefits. If you must go with a Chromebook and install Windows on it to take care of some tasks, we’re here to help.

More: Chromebook vs laptop

You might not need to install Windows on Chromebook devices

Chromebook downloading Google Play music 2

Chromebooks used to be very limited, but their software and app availability is growing heavily thanks to the support for non-Chrome OS 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 well over three million apps in the Google Play Store, and while Chrome OS devices can’t take advantage of every app in there, the most important ones support Chromebooks.

Chromebooks that support Android apps have the Google Play Store. 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, when you 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.

More: The best Android apps for Chromebooks

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. Popular ones include LibreOffice, Audacity, GIMP, Steam, VLC, and Firefox. If all the apps you need come in Linux variations, you are in luck. 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.

Here: All the Chromebooks that support Android and Linux apps

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 for free? Web apps have become very powerful, and you can even edit photos and videos 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 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.

How to use Chrome Remote Desktop

  • Make sure you are signed in to the same Google account on both computers.
  • Open Chrome on your Windows computer.
  • Install the Chrome Remote Desktop extension.
  • After installation, open the Chrome Remote Desktop web app.
  • On your Windows PC, Click + Generate Code under the Share this screen tab in the Chrome Remote Desktop web app. 
  • On the web app on your Chromebook, enter the access code generated on your Windows PC and press Connect under the Connect to another computer section.
  • You can go to Options > Disconnect to finish the session. Or close the window.

Read: These are the five best remote desktop apps

Run Windows apps on Chromebooks using CrossOver

Crossover - Windows on Chromebook

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 a software that can run full Windows apps on Mac, Linux, and Chromebook devices. It sounds like the perfect solution, but there are a couple of caveats.

Related: The best cheap laptops you can buy

Not all Chromebooks can use it; only Intel-based laptops can take advantage of CrossOver. You’ll also need 550MB of storage and at least 2GB of RAM. Furthermore, not all applications are supported, but many great ones are. You can check out the developer’s compatibility page to see if your Windows apps will work. You might also benefit from using this software in macOS or Linux, as those platforms are also supported.

Consider using a cloud computing service

Shadow Cloud gaming service
Shadow Tech

There’s one other way to get Windows on Chromebook computers. You’ve probably heard of cloud gaming. Services like Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now, and Amazon Luna aim to offer high-level gaming through the cloud. Think of these as the Netflix of gaming.

Shadow Tech is different; this company offers a Windows machine in the cloud. While gaming is the main focus, it isn’t restricted to it. You get a remote PC you can access from any supported device (Windows, macOS, Android, Android TV, iOS, tvOS, and Linux). Chromebooks can use the Android app.

Subscriptions cost $29.99 per month. It’s not cheap, but you’ll get a mighty Windows computer capable of high-level gaming in return. You can also do other intensive tasks, like editing and other processes.

How to install Windows on Chromebook laptops

Windows logo

Have you exhausted all other possibilities and still want to install Windows on a Chromebook? Please keep in mind this requires heavy tinkering, the use of third-party drivers, and even opening up your computer. There is a chance you can damage your device and/or void your warranty. Anything that happens is on you, so be careful.

Requirements

  • The Chromebook you want to install Windows on.
  • A secondary Windows computer.
  • A 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 then press Enter to enable Developer Mode.
  • Press Ctrl + D to boot Chrome OS.
  • Press Ctrl + Alt + T to open up a terminal.
  • 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.
  • Type Y to confirm.
  • Type U to install UEFI firmware

Download Windows on Chromebook devices using a USB flash drive

  • Open a browser on your Windows computer.
  • Go to Microsoft’s website to download your Chromebook Windows 10 installation software.
  • 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 a 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 click Next.
  • Click 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 click 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 on a hacked computer. 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. Go to his website by pressing the button below and selecting your model. This site will provide all necessary drivers and tell you if any components don’t work yet.