Chrome 57 made the PIN unlock feature available for all Chromebooks.
So, you’re probably wondering what exactly it does and how to turn it on.
It’s nothing new.
It’s already been in beta for a while now and is old news for many Chrome OS followers.
However, for the typical Chromebook user, this feature is an exciting addition to the list of unique and awesome things Chromebooks can do.
Last updated: 1/24/20. This guide has been updated for accuracy.
Unlock your Chromebook with a code just like a smartphone
It does exactly what the name sounds like- unlocks your Chromebook a with a personal code.
You set it up. You enter it in. You log in. No surprises there. Smartphones have the feature built-in. Now your laptop does too.
Let’s find out how to enable it. Believe it or not, it’s actually pretty tucked away within the menus. Like, deep within the menus.
When I updated to Chrome 57, checking it out was the first thing I wanted to mess around with. I had a hard time finding out exactly where it is.
The logic flow to get there through navigational menus is quite confusing because of the wording.
And it’s placed in a section you wouldn’t really expect the first time you update and go exploring for it.
But that’s OK. It’s always a journey. And I don’t mind a bit- being the Chrome geek wannabe I am.
The first place I looked was the Smart Lock subsection in the Settings menu. After all, you’d think having both locking methods in the same place would make sense.
They’re both accessibility features to access your Chromebook in one way or another.
That yielded no results. So now I’m on a mission. Now it gets interesting. Check this part out.
Enabling the unlock feature
Okay, so I thought maybe I’ll try a search from the Launcher.
I hit the Finder key (magnifying glass where “Caps Lock” is on a traditional keyboard), punch in a bunch of variations: “pin,” “unlock,” and even “unlock pin” to no avail. I even searched for the obvious.
So what’s going on? I double check my version of Chrome OS and it indeed stated 57.
I dig around more and voila.
Guess where I found it?
In the “People” subsection.
Specifically, in the “Manage screen lock” text link.
If you think about, tucking it under “People” makes sense. It’s your personal lock code and you’d use it yourself.
But if you’re looking for this option in the first place, it’s not where you’d expect it to be. And hiding it within a text link makes it that much more obscure.
So I clicked on the text link and I was prompted to type in my Google Account password.
This is a good security measure against others trying to mess with your Chromebook’s settings if you happen to step away from your laptop.
You’d think it’d be easier to find. Looking back, it makes sense.
But when you’re looking for the first time, it’s all wrong. It can definitely cause some confusion, so if you’re reading this, you just saved yourself some time.
Using a PIN is one way you can quickly login without having to mess with a password.
Setting it all up
I punch in my password and then I was greeted with a dialog box for setting the login method.
You can choose from either “Password only” or “PIN or password.” I chose the latter and then click on the “Set up PIN” link. I also saw that there’s the option to require your PIN when you wake your Chromebook up from sleep mode.
This is a definite yes, unless you keep your laptop at home and don’t have any snoopers around. It defaults to disabled, so I go ahead and enable it. I don’t see why you wouldn’t want this option enabled if you’re already going through the steps to set up a code on your device.
If you’re a paranoid person (like me), you’d probably want your laptop to prompt for a code every wake cycle, no?
After all, if you have your laptop in a room with many other people, you’d probably want that extra security to lock it down.
After I clicked on “Set up PIN,” a keypad digit selector shows up. There’s only one requirement for setting a secure code for your Chromebook:
- It must be at least 6 digits
So I key it in once, and then twice for security. The screen disappears and it drops me back to the previous menu. Instead of the same text, it changes to give you an option to change it. Nice.
Also, if you ever forget both your password AND your PIN, you can still restore your Chromebook without a password.
PIN set and done
And that was it.
I excitedly close the lid, wait for the lights to turn to sleep mode, and flip it back open. It prompts for my personal code along with the optional password. It works.
Why would you use this?
To add another layer of extra security for your laptop.
Although I can see that most people probably don’t need this since it just wastes more time getting logged in, others could use it.
Perhaps there are other people that snoop on your laptop.
Or maybe you oftentimes leave it in the presence of no do-gooders. Whatever the reason, having the option to set a personal layer of protection is awesome.
Perhaps there are other people that snoop on your laptop. Or maybe you oftentimes leave it in the presence of no do-gooders.
Whatever the reason, having the option to set a personal layer of protection is awesome.
Having it toggle-able is the real idea here. The developers understood that not everyone needs a function like this, so making it optional was the best way to implement it.