Enable the developer mode on your Chromebook

By | 04/07/2016


Enabling the developer mode on your brand new Chromebook laptop might have you running circles in your head. You may have heard “the developer mode erases your machine” or “developer mode voids the warranty of your Chromebook!”

Fear not, for this easy guide will answer those questions, and teach you how to use it.

Last updated: 3/9/17. This guide will constantly be updated so you get the newest and most accurate information so you can do your stuff without a hitch. If you find any errors, please let me know in the comments and I’ll fix them.

File deletion and voiding the warranty

Firstly, let’s answer those questions. The developer mode indeed erases your machine. When you enable it, it basically forces the Chromebook to delete your accounts and all personal files. However, if you use the free cloud storage provided by Google, or if you have your stuff stored on some cloud service, you can easily recover it.

Enabling the developer mode also kinda voids the warranty. If you break your machine, Google offers no support. This mode is intended for power-users or people who know what they’re doing. If you’re just a regular user and you want to install something that requires root access, consider the pros and cons of doing so. If you should break your machine, make sure you disable the developer mode before attempting to send it in for repairs. The warranty doesn’t cover issues due to you playing with the machine in developer mode.

Still here? OK. Let’s keep moving.

Why enable developer mode?

You’ll want to enable the developer mode to grant yourself root access to install operating systems like Linux and programs like Crouton, just to name a few.

How to enable developer mode on your Chromebook

  1. Boot your Chromebook into Recovery mode by holding “Esc + Refresh” (4th key on the top row) keys, and then pressing the Power button.
  2. You’ll then be promoted with a scary warning- “Chrome OS is missing or damaged.” This will occur regardless of what you do.
  3. Press “Ctrl + D.” This is basically another fail-safe. Google’s way of making sure you really know what you’re doing.
  4. On the next screen you’ll see another message- “To turn OS Verification OFF, press ENTER.” Go ahead and do it. You may hear beeping during this step.
  5. Press “Ctrl + D,” or just wait for the beeping to stop and your Chromebook will reboot itself.
  6. It’ll take about 15 minutes for it to boot into developer mode. You’ll see the status of the boot. You only have to go through this process during your first boot after enabling developer mode.
  7. You’re now in developer mode. Congrats.

So now that you’ve officially hacked your Chromebook, you can do some nifty things. But at the same time, there are plenty of risks. For one, Chrome OS usually verifies the core files during boot. Now it won’t do that anymore. The security that you previously had is now gone, so be extra careful what you do.

Enable debugging features

You’ll see an option to enable debugging features. If you do this, you get some benefits such as booting from a USB drive, accessing your Chromebook remotely via SSH, and other useful features. But if you don’t need all the extra functionality, you don’t have to enable it.

Now you can do things you couldn’t normally do with full reign. For starters, you can access any root shell by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T to open a new command terminal window. In this window, type “shell”, then press Enter to open a bash shell. Doing so will let you use “sudo.”

How to disable developer mode

When you’re doing playing and you want to disable developer mode, just reboot it. You’ll get warning screens all over again, and just press the spacebar and your Chromebook will reset to factory settings and delete all your files. When it’s done, you’ll have to log into your Google account again on that familiar splash page. You’ll be back at where you started- minus your files you started with.

Easy enough?

About Andy Z.

Andy is a casual-hardcore Chrome OS fan and contributes to the site regularly. He likes computers, tech, sports cars, videogames, and of course, Chromebooks. Thinker. Introvert. Geek. You can find him on Twitter (@platytech), or send him an email (platy@platypusplatypus.com).

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