Developer Mode Chromebook.

How to Enable Developer Mode on Chromebook – Everything You Need to Know (2020)

Enabling Developer Mode on your Chromebook might have you running circles in your head.

You may have heard that Developer Mode deletes all your data or that it voids the warranty of your Chromebook.

Fear not.

This guide will answer all those questions you may have (and then some!).

And it’ll teach you how to enable it so you can do things like install Linux or run Play Store apps.

You need to enable it because Chrome OS by itself doesn’t let you install third-party software on it.

Last updated: 1/1/20. 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!

Does it delete all my stuff? Does it void my warranty?

Enabling Developer Mode will void Chromebook warranty.
It may void the warranty of your laptop. But then again, it may be worth it.

Firstly, let’s answer all these common questions and get them out of the way.

Developer Mode erases your Chromebook

Switching to it does indeed delete all your local data.

When you enable it, it basically forces the Chromebook to delete your personal files you have saved on your local disk.

It’ll basically perform a Powerwash on itself.

This means you’ll have to back up all your data to an external hard drive. Be sure to do this before proceeding because once you start, there’s no going back.

(Don’t have an external hard drive? Check out some of the best backup storage devices that are compatible with Chromebooks.)

You can use the free cloud storage provided by Google on Google Drive to easily save most (if not all) of it.

Or if you have some other cloud service (like Dropbox or Amazon S3), you can easily stash your stuff there as well.

There have many comments from readers (as you can see on this page) regarding possible workarounds to avoid deleting all your data.

Unfortunately, that’s how Chrome OS is wired. If you want to turn on Dev Mode, it wipes your system completely.

The bad part is that you have to back up everything. The good part is that if you screw up, you can just reset your device over and over since you have nothing important on it.

Plus, your Chromebook will probably run much faster since it’ll be like new.

It also semi-voids your Chromebook’s warranty

Enabling it also kinda voids the warranty. But not exactly.

If you break your machine, Google will offer no support for the matter.

This is clearly stated in the many warning prompts you’ll see when going through the process of enabling it.

If you should break or screw up your machine, make sure you disable it before attempting to send it in for repairs (though, this probably will be useless since they can check if the laptop was put into that mode).

The basic warranty doesn’t cover any damages due to you playing with the machine with it enabled.

This mode is intended for power-users, hardcore Chromium fans, 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.

It’s easy to restore it to the original settings if you screw up

But then again, with a simple Powerwash, you can restore it back to factory settings. This basically makes it like new again as if it was never used before.

Google just doesn’t provide support for the product when you’re in Dev Mode. But when you’re out of it, you get support. Dev Mode just enables a lot of features that are currently in “beta,” so not everything will work properly. This is why they can’t provide support.

But when you Powerwash it, it’ll revert back to the original settings. Most retail stores will also gladly take it back in the event you need to return it as well. With a Powerwash, it’s pretty much impossible to tell if it was ever used (not that you should abuse it).

In fact, if you do decide to return or exchange a Chromebook in general,  you should definitely Powerwash it to clean it up and delete everything tied to your personal data to protect yourself. They’ll probably appreciate it as well since the device will be like new.

If you ever break something, just check out this guide on how to Powerwash your Chromebook.

You shouldn’t be scared to play around

Don’t be afraid to experiment though.

But then again, it’s pretty hard to destroy your laptop. Chrome OS has a lot of built-in features that make it possible to self-repair and go back to factory settings in just a few clicks.

You shouldn’t be that worried about switching modes unless you’re planning to do something drastic.

In other words, stop worrying. I haven’t heard of anyone permanently screwing up their laptop by turning it on.

Chromebooks are very easy to restore back factory settings if you screw one up.

And to be honest, it’s quite fun playing around with it enabled. You can get new updates that are in beta, install third-party software, and even see a whole bunch of techy jargon code that you probably won’t understand. If you break something, just restore it.

As long as you back up all your stuff, you’ll be fine.

(Don’t know how to back up your stuff? I wrote a complete guide about that.)

Still here? OK.

Let’s keep moving.

Why would you want to enable it?

You’ll want to enable it to grant yourself root access so you have the necessary admin privileges to do anything you want on your device.

It’s kind of like “Run as administrator” on Windows (if you’re familiar with it).

This allows you to install kernels like Linux, install popular programs like Steam, play games like Minecraft, Hearthstone, Roblox, RuneScape, and even World of Warcraft, and also get access to Chrome updates that aren’t released yet, just to name a few.

There are a ton of goodies just waiting to be discovered!

Enable Developer Mode

  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 that’ll take over your screen. Read it and accept the consequences. 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 that states- “To turn OS Verification OFF, press ENTER.” Go ahead and do it. You may hear beeping during this step.
  5. Press “CTRL+ D” again, or just wait for the beeping to stop and your Chromebook will reboot itself.
  6. It’ll take about 15-20 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 it.
  7. You’re now in Developer Mode!

Congrats! So now that you’ve officially “hacked” your Chromebook, you can do some nifty things that you couldn’t before- like change your browser and even download media players!

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 the Chrome OS debugging features

You may see an option to enable debugging features. This is optional, but may be useful when you’re trying to fix something down the line.

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, or don’t even know what they do, you don’t have to enable them.

Now you can do things you couldn’t normally do with full reign.

Access the command line

For starters, you can access the root shell by pressing “CTRL + ALT + T” to open a new command terminal window.

In this window, type “shell”, and then press Enter to open a bash shell.

Doing so will let you use “sudo” which is needed to execute many commands.

You’re now in Dev Mode!

This is pretty much all you need to do. You’re now officially in Dev Mode.

It’s now enabled and you can begin installing Linux or doing whatever you plan to do.

Getting errors?

Here are a few of the most common errors you may encounter- and their solutions!

If you get an error that reads:

  • “ERROR: unknown command: sudo”

It means you didn’t type “shell” first. Try typing that in before you start using “sudo.”

  • ERROR: unknown command: shell”

It’s likely because you’re not in Developer Mode.

Chrome OS has a tendency to revert back out of Dev Mode quite often. This happens when you reboot your device or wake it up from hibernate mode.

A warning will pop up on the screen that offers you the option to either stay in Dev Mode or revert back to the normal mode. This is a security measure built into Chrome OS.

If you don’t press the right keyboard combination on the screen to keep your Chromebook in Dev Mode, it’ll automatically revert back to the normal mode. It also works on a timer- if you do nothing, it’ll also automatically switch out of Developer Mode.

When you see the warning come up, you want to keep “OS Verification” off. This is important because if you don’t, you’ll have to start over from the first step again.

  • “Chrome OS is missing or damaged”

Don’t worry too much about this.

This is normal to the process and if you get this error, you can safely ignore it if it lets you proceed with the guide.

You should see this error show up regardless during the process.

If you don’t, it means something went wrong and you may have to restart.

Done playing? Ready to disable it?

When you’re doing playing around and you want to disable Developer Mode, just reboot it.

You’ll get warning screens all over again when it boots up. Just press the spacebar and your Chromebook will reset to factory settings.

This will delete everything you’ve done while it was enabled and switch back to the default mode. It’ll be like turning on your laptop for the first time again.

When it’s done restarting, 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. (But you backed them up, right?)

Well, there you have it. Easy and straightforward. If you have any issues, leave a comment and I’ll look into it.

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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VdM
GUEST
VdM

Okay so i take the first step: Esc+refresh+power button
And then it takes my to a screen and asks me to put in a recovery drive(sd card, etc.)
What do i do?

O and is it a problem to put it in developer mode when it is still being managed by an administrator?
Or will that be removed after i put it in dev mode?

AnotherBrother
GUEST
AnotherBrother

When i turn off my laptop it takes me back to regular chrome. And when I ctrl refresh power it system repair.. how do I keep it as Linux and do I have to start over?

chromebook noob
GUEST
chromebook noob

Awesome guide, Andy. It was easy to follow and fun to read. I am using an administrated chromebook, with the hopes of signing into a personal account, entering developer mode, running linux, running steam, and then playing some games, because this is the only device I have at the moment, while my other computer is getting fixed. Do you reckon this is a good idea? I’m pretty desperate for some gaming. All my friends have PCs and I’m stuck with an administrated chromebook. I also want to do all this stuff while staying under the radar, if you know what… Read more >>

gamer
GUEST
gamer

I did everything correct multiple times over and over but it kept putting me back to official build

girly
GUEST
girly

when i do the first step nothing happens, help me please

Celina
GUEST
Celina

when i do the first step nothing happens

swag
GUEST
swag

Normally me pc is windows I transformed to chromium but I want to go back to windows again somebody helps my keyboard is a window pc/

Emmet
GUEST
Emmet

My laptop says that “chrome OS isn’t working” and “please insert a SD card or Flash drive” what do I do?

Tommy
GUEST
Tommy

I either did nothing or pressed Ctrl + d

Bryant
GUEST
Bryant

my Chromebook said developer mode is disabled and it also wouldn’t let me keep Os verification off. what do i need to do

chromebook noob
GUEST
chromebook noob

Control+D when that pops up. Then you want to hit enter. Then control+D again. Hope this helps!

Jo
GUEST
Jo

I am on dell laptop and this didnt work because theirs no refresh .-.

swag
GUEST
swag

me too

swag
GUEST
swag

halp us please

egg
GUEST
egg

go to settings, then chrome os, then change it from official build, to developer mode (not beta)

Billc
GUEST
Billc

If my chromebox has reached “end of life” and I go into developer mode. Will I still be able to reset it (like a powerwash) ?

Jek
GUEST
Jek

I need help. It says something about how my Chrome OS is missing/damaged? Please tell me what this means.

gamer
GUEST
gamer

it means that ur chromebook will be wiped just press ctrl+d if you see that

Amelia
GUEST
Amelia

Hey, I have a lenovo chromebook S330. and attempting to do whatever I need to to download steam to regain the ability to play the over 30 games that I had downloaded on my previous laptop. it’s in dev mode/channel and none of the codes are working. Anything you can do to help?

chromebook noob
GUEST
chromebook noob

Did you go into shell before trying to run these codes?

Naomi P.
GUEST
Naomi P.

I’ve tried esc+reload+power button, although it only resets it and doesn’t give me the notification, it only automatically resets my chromebook. Any alternatives?

CJ
GUEST
CJ

Success! Used a Samsung unsupported xe-303 with Chromebook Recovery Utility to make an image as the imageburner is no longer available. Only issue was getting the app to find the usb prior to download. Wiggling it got it to be found. After dl I removed usb then ran the install. Before it started it warned of not using the blue usb port. Installation took about 5 minutes. Works! Thanks for the guide.

Hopeful Chromebook User
GUEST
Hopeful Chromebook User

Hi Andy, Quick problem I am hoping you can help me with regards to Developer Mode. I am currently living in China and thus cannot access Google servers without the use of a VPN. This means that I cannot access the Playstore as well. While I do have a VPN app installed via the Playstore from before arriving in China, a recent change in how the government handles the Internet has rendered the version of my VPN app useless, and I cannot update it without accessing the Playstore which I cannot access without a working VPN. Thus, I see developer… Read more >>

Zoom
GUEST
Zoom

I got the message saying OS is missing or damaged. I didn’t know how to proceed to the guide, so I just followed googles instruction and “recovered” the laptop. However, it still displays the message… how should I proceed?

sean
GUEST
sean

make a OS backup on a usb stick or sd card. system recovery app to make it

KADIN DUNN
GUEST
KADIN DUNN

hello!

Timothy0921
GUEST
Timothy0921

Andy, First; thanks for the great guides! Now, my problem… I’m trying to enter Dev mode on a Samsung Series 5 (XE500C21). I slide the hardware switch forward, press the power button, and it goes through the process of transitioning to Developer Mode. It takes a bit over 5 minutes, to run through the –“Preparing system for Developer Mode. This may take a while. Do not turn your computer off until it has restarted”– screen, after which, it reboots into the –“Chrome OS verification is turned off”– screen, with the ASCII image, where it sits. And sits… and SITS, doing… Read more >>

Timothy0921
GUEST
Timothy0921

Andy…? Any thoughts on my issue?

Sherry Sisk
GUEST
Sherry Sisk

When I try to turn on developer mode it keeps saying the device owner has disabled developer mode and takes me back to the sign in screen. Do you know what I should do to bypass this?

Ugh I hate this
GUEST
Ugh I hate this

Ok as soon as I hit ctrl alt T it takes me to the chronos thing and I type shell and then nothing happens I’ve tried this entire thing over and over again for like 7 hours straight and am I playing Minecraft NOPE!
PLEASE HELP ME!!!!

Person
GUEST
Person

Ok so every time I try to turn on dev mode it shuts of then up pops the warning and whenever I try to hit ctrl d then it just sits there and literally does nothing I have done this stupid procedure literally 30 times plz HELP!!!

Fabio
GUEST
Fabio

I tried to do all you said and now I can’t get out of the chrome OS missing or damaged! Screen. I tried restart several times and it is still showing this message. What do I do?

help me plz
GUEST
help me plz

when i do the esc+refresh+power it shuts off, not give a warning

CJ
GUEST
CJ

same

kkkkkkkkkkkllllll
GUEST
kkkkkkkkkkkllllll

hm

yeet
GUEST
yeet

can you put a different drive in the Chromebook

Davin
GUEST
Davin

I keep clicking Enable debugging features and it’s not letting me it says “Something went wrong” with a big red X above it

Ixiaul
GUEST
Ixiaul

Hi there. First of all, thank you for this and your other guides. I successfully – and rather easily – entered Dev Mode and installed Linux. When I switched back to ChromeOS to update Linux (typing into the command line), I can’t get back into Dev Mode. Nothing but the power button responds after hitting Esc + Refresh, then the power button. When I hit the power button on the screen that says Chrome OS is missing blah, blah (first scary warning screen) the Chromebook turns off. When I turn it back on, it’s moved back to the next warning… Read more >>

Ixiaul
GUEST
Ixiaul

Nevermind. Somehow got it working. Maybe I hit a wrong button. Once again, thank you for these wonderful guides.

L
GUEST
L

Did you end up signing in to get this to work? I’m stuck on the same step and once I try and type in “ctrl +alt+t” it doesn’t do anything

L
GUEST
L

Also, do I sign into chrome ?

GG
GUEST
GG

I’m having the same issue. I went through all the scary steps, I got to it asking me to debug (which I decided not to do) but I ended back to asking me to log into my wifi and now log into google.

Elliander Eldridge
GUEST
Elliander Eldridge

So… is there any way to stay in dev mode permanently? I’d prefer to be able to switch back and forth between Chrome and Linux, and not have Linux disappear on me.

I want to install development tools within Linux, and unfortunately I can’t use the VM that is available on the Samsung Chromebook Plus because I bought the higher powered Pro instead.

Kaleb
GUEST
Kaleb

Just a question, is developer mode safe if this is a Chromebook owned by the school?

Rhynian
GUEST
Rhynian

Ok, did all of that plus extra. Now I’m stuck at: Loading extra module: /usr/share/crosh/dev.d/50-crosh.sh Welcome to crosh, the Chrome OS developer shell. If you got here by mistake, don’t panic! Just close this tab and carry on. Type ‘help’ for a list of commands. If you want to customize the look/behavior, you can use the options page. Load it by using Ctrl+Shift+P keyboard shortcut. crosh>shell chronos@localhost / $ WTF (Btw this is such a total dos ripoff it makes my inner nerd cornfuzzled to the point of not knowing wether or not to laugh like a donkey or rip… Read more >>

J.J
GUEST
J.J

Hi Andy!i did the steps as you told but i still cannot be able to play Roblox.That’s one problem that im struggling. It is also that in want my original account back. For example i want to disable Dev mode now,but when i do the exact steps, it doesn’t let me 🙁 Please help

Axel
GUEST
Axel

Hi!
I got a school chromebook that’s owned by the school but would like to have dev mode. Is it a bad idea and could it screw up my computer?

Tarik
GUEST
Tarik

Hey Andy. Attempting to enable Developer Mode on my Acer Chromebook 13 brought me to the “Preparing system for Developer Mode…” screen, and that’s as far as I’ve got.

The top left of the screen displays the following message:
/sbin/clobber-state: 164 /sbin/clobber-state: pv: Input/output error

I’ve let it run for an hour + now but still no luck; the wheel just keeps spinning. Any ideas?

Dan
GUEST
Dan

I have an Acer CB 13 also, and I somehow got past this issue. Here’s what I remember doing. Hope it helps! 🙂 On the screen with the input/output error, I did the ESC, refresh and power combination again. I was then brought to the screen saying how the OS verification had been turned off, with a “press enter to continue” request. I then however pressed the power button as, what I can recall, it didn’t register me pressing any other relevant button. I was then brought to a screen stating that a powerwash process had begun. After said process… Read more >>

Blank
GUEST
Blank

I have a school Chromebook. how would doing this effect the applications downloaded? I know that they carry over if you log in using the same gmail on a different computer, but would that change?

Reaper_53
GUEST
Reaper_53

I haven’t actually tried to do this yet but it seems really in depth and i just want to thank you.

Swaggycooldragom
GUEST
Swaggycooldragom

If I enable developer mode will it wipe my Google drive even if I go back to chrome os?

Chromebook OS official maker.
GUEST
Chromebook OS official maker.

This isnt working

bob
GUEST
bob

mot worhing still what to do i need to play roblox

jack
GUEST
jack

so if I want to play runescape i have to be in dev mode the whole time which means i can get viruses?

John
GUEST
John

cause my enrollment is school how do i get the school enrollment off and the chromebook is a lenovo chromebook

John
GUEST
John

hey when you power-wash the computer and the enrollment how you change the enrollment from a different email to your personal email so your admin

MissyHorse2
GUEST
MissyHorse2

Hey umm I searched up how to get roblox on Chromebook OS and its showing me the results of some other game I don’t even know about.

Also, I searched up some stuff and it told me here is the guide and there wasn’t anything there.

I hope you’ll fix this before I unsubscribe.

l33k
GUEST
l33k

If I go on Dev mode, if i refund my laptop, will walmart employees allow me to?

Arjya
GUEST
Arjya

Hi, I have a question: So, if i turn on dev mode, and forgot, how will know if dev mode is on or not?

Jazmine
GUEST
Jazmine

Honestly freaked out, if I break this it won’t be great but i need steam and it’ll be fine… right?

anonymous
GUEST
anonymous

Sorry about the name, I can’t give it out. There’s is what I think is a flaw where I cannot get to the “scary” screen, so could you be more specific on how to get to the screen. It may be the latest chromebook, it looks and acts a little differently than the older versions. By the way, I have a touchscreen. And, is the top right lock symbol button the power button. I have one on the right that has a key symbol that I think used to be the power button, and the lock symbol was in the… Read more >>

Blake
GUEST
Blake

When I did the first step I saw a page that requested an sd card or USB to be inserted how do I get around that.

blue
GUEST
blue

if you get linux, are you going 2 b stuck in developer mode for as long as you want to keep the linux? Is there a way to leave developer mode but still keep all the stuff you did?

me
GUEST
me

how does this give me linux

Liam
GUEST
Liam

How exactly do i store my files