So, you need to change owners on your Chromebook.
Did you make a new Google Account? Or buy a used Chromebook? Or you have multiple accounts and you need to swap them?
In this tutorial, we’ll cover the process of how to do the following:
- Setting a new owner account on Chrome OS
- Assigning an administrator to your Chromebook
- Changing the default account on Chrome OS
- Adding or removing users
- Common errors when managing accounts
- How to change your profile name
- And more
By the end of this page, you should have everything you need to know to be a Chromebook account master.
Sound good? Let’s get your accounts in order!
How to change the owner account on a Chromebook
Okay, so let’s get one thing out of the way- you can’t change the admin user on a Chromebook without completely resetting your device.
There can only be one “owner” on a Chromebook at any time.
And to change it, you need to completely reset your Chromebook by doing a Powerwash.
Is this inconvenient? Sure.
I don’t think that Chromebooks were made to be shared between people and are solely geared for single users.
There’s always the option of adding another account or using it as a Guest, but there can only be one primary account as the administrator of your Chromebook.
Chrome OS was built this way probably because these laptops were made to be simple, fast, and secure.
They’re not exactly devices you want to be passed around between different users around the school or workplace. And they’re not equipped with that much onboard memory either.
The most basic models have only 16GB of SSD storage, so once you add two or more accounts on there, it’ll quickly fill up the minuscule SSD.
So now that you know this- you can go ahead and wipe your device to change the owner and set the admin privileges to a different account. Again, this is the only way to change the owner on a Chromebook.
There’s no way to assign a new administrator or owner account without going through the setup process again.
The FIRST account you add AUTOMATICALLY becomes the primary account on your Chromebook.
How to check which account is the owner account
You can easily check for the admin account by using a few different functions not available to regular accounts.
Only the Chromebook’s owner can do a few different things like changing the time zone, modifying sign-in permissions, changing the WiFi settings.
If you’re still not sure, here’s another way to find the Chromebook owner account:
- Sign in to your Google Account if you haven’t already.
- Launch the Chrome Browser.
- Type “chrome://settings” in the address bar and hit Enter. You can also just click on the Chrome Menu > Settings.
- Find the section labeled “People” and then find “Manage other people” and click on it.
You’ll then see either of the following:
- If you see “These settings may only be modified by the owner,” this means that the account you’re using is NOT the owner account.
- If you see “These settings are controlled by enterprise policy,” this means that the Chromebook is enrolled under a school or work network.
But if you don’t see either of these messages, make sure you’re using the latest version of Chrome.
You can’t really do anything in this case other than to get permission from the admin team.
And lastly, if you’re able to toggle the options if the “Manage other people” section, then the account you’re using IS the Chromebook owner account (admin).
And that’s how you find the Chromebook owner account! Easy right?
If you bought your device used and it’s not letting you change settings because you don’t have access to the Chromebook owner account (or it doesn’t give you admin privileges), it could be because:
- The previous owner’s Google Account is still marked as the Chromebook admin
- The device was previously used in a school or work environment and enrolled, but was never unmanaged (unenrolled)
You can try to unmanage your Chromebook from the network, but you’ll probably have to end up contacting the seller you bought it from to do it for you. Or exchange/refund the device.
Because there’s no real way to do it yourself without getting the admin to do it.
Chrome OS was built to be secure from malware, backdooring, and other things, but sometimes that “bulletproof” securing works against you.
How to make a new owner on a Chromebook
As mentioned, there’s no way to create a new admin or owner account on Chrome OS without wiping the Chromebook, setting it up, and adding a new account.
The first account you add will be the Chromebook owner by default.
This is the only way to change the admin to a new owner:
- Sign in to your Google Account.
- Make backups of everything you want to save, as Powerwashing will erase EVERYTHING and revert it back to default settings (this means your saved media and files in your Downloads folder, custom folders, backgrounds, Chromebook settings, and all other Google Accounts on your Chromebook).
- You can save the stuff you want to an SD card (you may have to format it), flash drive, or external media.
- Erase your device.
- Restart your Chromebook and begin the setup process.
- The account you add to your laptop will now be the new owner of the Chromebook.
- This doesn’t erase your data stored on Google’s servers, like Gmail and Drive.
Congrats. You just assigned a new admin to your device. Easy peezy.
Any additional accounts you add will now be “regular” or Guest accounts.
Only this new account is considered to be the admin account.
Note that if you’re using an enrolled Chromebook, you won’t be able to do a Powerwash as settings will prevent you from doing so. There’s no way around this.
How do you delete an administrator on a Chromebook?
Chrome OS doesn’t allow you to remove or delete an admin account without completely erasing the machine.
You can’t delete the admin owner account, as it’s assigned by default when you first start up your Chromebook.
In other words, you can’t delete the permanent account unless you do a Powerwash to wipe off all existing accounts stored on the laptop.
Just like trying to change the owner’s account, you need to do a Powerwash to wipe your device. Then you add a new account.
This account will automatically be the primary account on your Chromebook.
How to change the default account to an admin account
This isn’t possible once you’ve created an account- unless the account you first added while doing the Chrome OS setup happened to already be the admin account.
But then, you wouldn’t be reading this, right?
Once the system assigns an admin account, that’s permanent. You can’t “pass the torch” to another account, nor can you change your most used “default” account to become the admin account.
You’ll have to erase the device, complete the Chromebook setup process again, and assign a new account to be the owner/admin.
There’s a way to “switch” the admin privileges to another account. You can’t delegate the owner of the device without starting over from scratch!
Other account management FAQs
Here are some other common FAQs about adding, removing, and delegating account roles on a Chromebook.
It’s pretty simple as Chrome OS doesn’t allow for much flexibility. You either are an admin, or you’re not. There’s no switching, delegating, or swapping privileges. No sir.
How do I change the owner on an Acer, HP, Dell, or Samsung Chromebook?
Whether you have an Acer, HP, Dell, Samsung, or any other brand, the process to change the owner of the Chromebook remains the same.
It doesn’t matter who made your device- Chrome OS (the actual software) remains the same across all manufacturers.
Therefore, the process of switching the primary admin account is the same as well.
You need to reset the device and add a new account.
Then the first account you create is the “admin” account by default. This will be the primary, default user for the device.
What’s the “Setting enforced by admin” message?
The “This setting is enforced by your administrator” message seems like it was a reported bug that has been resolved.
It was said to happen on personal Chromebooks even after a Powerwash.
The user submitted a bug report and said it was resolved.
My Chromebook has an admin already, how do I fix it?
If your Chromebook happens to be admin locked, there’s really no way you can get around this.
This is usually frequent on stolen or lost Chromebooks, as they’re registered to a school or work network. If you bought this device from someone, you should contact the seller and get an exchange/refund.
Even if you were to reset it and do a Powerwash, it’s likely to just deactivate again after it connects online. And you need a WiFi connection anyway to even add a Google Account, so it’s a roadblock.
You may see a display message with contact details of the admin show up when you power it up.
How do you change your name on a Chromebook?
You can change your name using your Google Account.
The name is pulled directly from the name you entered on there, so to change it, simply head on over to your online account settings and modify the first and last name.
After you do this, it’ll pull the newly updated name directly to your Chromebook.
Help- I can’t remove a user!
If you want to remove an account, you can do so at the login page where you sign in to your Google Account.
- Log out of your account if you’re currently logged in (you can hit “CTRL + SHIFT + Q” to quickly logout)
- Find the profile you want to delete from your Chromebook, and click on the down arrow next to it for additional options.
- Then click on “Remove this user” and confirm the action.
- This will wipe the account from your device.
If you have too many accounts, this should help you clean it up! Perfect for when friends and family use your Chromebook and you don’t want to save their account on your device.
And if you don’t see the option “Remove this user,” it’s probably because you’re not the administrator of the Chromebook.
There can only be a single admin account that has the ability to remove other accounts. This is also the case if you’re using borrowed work or school Chromebook.
Only the admin can remove accounts from the device.
One of my accounts disappeared by itself!
Chrome OS will automatically delete the least used account when the device runs low on available storage space.
The Google Account is removed from the Chromebook, but everything else is left intact.
This means you won’t lose any synched files, emails, Drive storage, etc.
The only data that’s erased are settings specific to that account on the Chromebook- such as:
- Wallpaper settings
- Files, pictures, video, and other media in the Downloads folder
- Any other data saved in custom folders tied to that account
You can always re-add the account that was removed automatically by Chrome OS.
Note that once the Chromebook user is deleted, the files no longer can be recovered.
This is why you need to make regular backups and save your data often!
Did you get your accounts squared away?
By now, you should know everything you need to know about adding, removing, and changing users on your Chromebook.
Account management on Chrome OS is simple and straightforward- most things either work or they don’t. There’s really no “adjusting” the settings.
If you have any questions, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP!
Or if you found this page useful, let me know also =].
Consider telling a friend! It’s the most you could do!
Thanks for reading.