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.
This guide will answer all those questions you may have.
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: 8/27/17. 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.
Does it delete all my stuff? Does it void my warranty?
Firstly, let’s answer all these common questions and get them out of the way.
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.
However, 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.
Enabling it also kinda voids the warranty. 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.
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. This allows you to install operating systems like Linux and get access to updates that aren’t released yet, just to name a few.
Enable Developer Mode
- Boot your Chromebook into Recovery Mode by holding “Esc + Refresh” (4th key on the top row) keys, and then pressing the Power button.
- You’ll then be promoted with a scary warning- “Chrome OS is missing or damaged.” This will occur regardless of what you do.
- Press “Ctrl + D.” This is basically another fail-safe. Google’s way of making sure you really know what you’re doing.
- 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.
- Press “Ctrl + D,” or just wait for the beeping to stop and your Chromebook will reboot itself.
- 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 it.
- 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 may 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, 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”, then press Enter to open a bash shell.
Doing so will let you use “sudo” which is needed to execute many commands.
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.